Since carrots are root vegetables, many people are surprised to learn they grow easily in containers and raised beds. But, I assure you, they do!
If you lack garden space or simply don’t have a garden, it doesn’t mean fresh carrots are out of your reach. Soon, you’ll be enjoying gorgeous, crunchy, delicious carrots no matter how much garden space you have.
Discovering how to grow carrots in containers is an immensely satisfying and rewarding gardening adventure. Whether you’re new to vegetable gardening, or an old pro, you’ll find this carrot-growing method simple, efficient, and hugely productive.
All you need is the correct container, some carrot seeds, potting soil, and a wee bit of time.
Which Carrots Are Best For Containers?
Short carrot types are best, like Oxheart, Adelaide, Chantaney, Trevor, and Danvers. Plus, these are great beginner choices.
Round carrots, like Paris Market, are perfect because they are small and you don’t have to worry about misshapen roots.
There are so many carrot varieties; it can be quite overwhelming! Have some fun and plant carrots of different colours and shapes; just be conscious of the root size and make sure your container is deep enough.
The Six Simple Steps To Growing Carrots in Containers
Step #1 – Choose a container
Carrots will grow in many containers, including buckets, planters, plastic totes, and grow bags. The key is to pick one that is deep enough for the carrot’s roots to extend fully.
Carrots range in size, but the ideal container is between 12-18″ deep (30-45cm).
Take a look around; you may have something of suitable size already. If you can repurpose a container, do that. Just make sure to give it a thorough cleaning first.
If you’re growing carrots in buckets or containers that don’t have drainage holes, you’ll need to create some.
Drilling holes is the easiest method, but you can also heat a nail or screw and press it through the plastic to make holes. Don’t skip this step – a container without drainage holes leads to soggy soil and root rot.
Step #2 – Pick a location
You want to pick the location before planting because once that container is filled with soil, it’s going to be heavy! Believe me; you do not want to try dragging a big container filled with soil all around the yard.
- Full sun, at least 4-6 hours per day.
- Easy access to water. Carting water out to wherever the container is located several times a week will not be fun! Make sure it is easy to access with a garden hose or other irrigation system.
One of the great things about growing carrots in containers is that they can be placed almost anywhere.
Do you have some space on the deck or balcony or a sunny spot along the walkway or entryway? All of these are great, as long as there’s sun.
Step #3 – Fill the container with the right soil
Okay, now that you’ve got your container and space set-up, it’s time to talk about soil. Do not go and dig dirt from the yard! It is too dense for container growing, plus it may bring diseases to your plants.
The ideal soil is:
- Loose – any hard soil clumps, rocks, or stones will cause deformed roots.
- Well-draining – soggy soil causes root rot.
Choose a high-quality potting compost, organic if possible. Fill the container up to 1-inch (3cm) from the top, and then use your hands to loosen up any clumps.
Step #4 – Sow the seeds
Start carrot seeds in the spring, from March-May. Just make sure there is no more danger of frost.
You can plant a new container every two weeks for a continuous harvest of carrots. We highly recommend this!
Here’s how to sow the carrot seeds into the container:
- Wet the soil thoroughly before planting. Watering beforehand is better than afterward. When you water after planting, the seeds get lost in the mix.
- Make ¼” deep holes (6mm) spaced 2” (6cm) apart.
- Place two seeds in each hole. If both end up sprouting, we’ll thin them out later.
- Tap soil gently into the holes and pat the tops.
- And, now it’s time to wait. Carrots take a long time to germinate, usually between 10-24 days. Don’t worry; they’ll show up!
- Water the soil every other day as you wait so it is consistently moist without being soggy. This is super important because if the soil dries out, the fragile seedlings will struggle to break through the surface crust.
Step # 5 – Tend the seedlings
Taking care of these carrot babies is the easiest. Just keep the soil well-watered, moist, but not soggy. Uneven watering or insufficient watering leads to split roots, poor growth, and very oddly shaped carrots.
When the baby seedlings reach 2″ (5cm), thin them so there is one strong seedling every 2″ (5cm).
Use scissors to cut the extra ones at the base. Don’t yank them out of the ground since this disturbs the roots of the ones you’re keeping.
Add the cut carrot sprouts to a green salad or sandwich – yummy! Whatever you do, don’t leave the thinned seedlings in the garden; carrot flies love the smell and will rush to your crop.
If you notice any roots are pushing up out of the ground, mound soil around them. Roots exposed to sunlight turn green and taste bitter.
Step #6 – Harvest carrots!
In 2.5-3 months, the carrots are ready to harvest. Pull up one to check its size and shape. You can actually harvest carrots at any time; young roots and greens are tender and delicious.
I like to pull some while they’re super young and leave others to mature fully. It’s up to you; there’s no wrong way.
FAQS – Your Carrot Growing Questions Answered!
Do I Need To Fertilize My Carrots?
No, but you can if you want. Fertilize lightly, with a fertilizer high in phosphorous (which promotes root growth) and low in nitrogen (which encourages leaf growth).
Why Are My Carrots So Thin?
Either they were spaced too closely, or they didn’t get enough water. Don’t forget, carrots need to be thinned when they’re young and watered consistently throughout the growing season.
What Happens If You Leave Carrots In The Ground Too Long?
Carrots left in the ground too long get woody and lose their flavour. This doesn’t mean you need to harvest them all as soon as they mature.
But, they should be pulled up within a month or so for the best flavour and texture.
Do Carrots Suffer From Pests or Disease?
Yes, unfortunately! The worst is the carrot rust fly. This pesty fly appears in May and lays its eggs at the base of your carrot plants.
When the eggs hatch, the maggots go straight to work, eating holes through your carrots. You can’t see the larvae, but affected carrot plants show small, stunted leaves with a reddish “rusty” tint.
Once the damage is done, there is no reversing it. Dig up the infected roots to prevent the larvae from developing into another set of carrot flies. The best defence against these pests is to prepare for them.
Lay insect-proof mesh over the seedlings, burying the edges 5cm deep. This prevents the adult flies from getting in and laying their eggs.
Aphids are another common pest. Fortunately, these are much easier to combat. Spray carrot leaves with a solution of 1-litre water mixed with a few squirts of natural dish soap. Reapply every 2-3 days for 2 weeks.
And there you have it! A complete step by step guide on growing carrots in your backyard, even if you don’t have a ton of space. You’ll have your very own delicious, crunchy carrots in no time!