Tips for Growing Carrots in Pots
Growing Container Carrots
Container grown carrots are a great option for both gardeners short on space or beginners alike. In fact, beginner or not, growing carrots in containers is a lot easier than growing carrots in the ground or in a raised bed. A container garden approach to growing carrots means gardeners avoid common issues such as pests, poor soil or garden weeds.
So, if you’re looking for a simple method for growing carrots and you’re not looking to harvest huge amounts (a yield greater than 40 carrots) then continue reading these tips for growing carrots in pots…
What is the Best Container to Grow Carrots?
When choosing the best container, depth is the most important factor to consider. Carrots can be grown in most container shapes ranging between 6 to 15 inches in depth.
Check the specific depth requirements according to the variety of carrots you’re growing.
Most carrot varieties require a minimum container depth of 12 inches, with 1.5 to 2 cm of spacing available between seedlings and the container edge. Good spacing and depth will allow carrots to grow well and fully develop.
If you’re recycling (or ‘repurposing’) a pot or container to grow carrots, make sure it provides plenty of drainage by drilling holes into the bottom. Growing mediums without efficient drainage will cause carrots to rot from the waterlogged soil.
How to Choose the Right Variety of Carrots
Perfectly shaped cone-like carrots are not a guarantee when growing your own. However, choosing a suitable variety, especially when growing in containers, should give you a good chance for a great harvest.
Shorter varieties, such as Chantaney, Oxheart and Round carrots are ideal for container growing. Oxheart varieties have roots only 2 to 3 inches long at maturity.
Round carrots such as Parmex or Rondo are perfect for gardeners trying to avoid funny shaped carrots.
- Chantaney carrots are the best choice, with ‘red cored’ varieties being a popular cultivar. They have the classic carrot characteristics, broad fat shoulders with a tapered triangular yet blunt tip. Growing between 4 to 5 inches, their short length is perfect for growing in container gardens. Ideally planted in spring, Chantaney carrots are best suited to containers between 12 to 15 inches in depth.
What is the Best Soil to Grow Carrots in?
- Carrots grow easily in loose lightweight soil, with good drainage and free from twigs, stones or any other hard bits. Soil or compost that is not smooth, but rather, has obstructions such as stones, will cause carrots to grow either hard, oddly shaped or with 2 or 3 legs. It’s best to buy a good quality potting soil to use in your containers, or alternatively make your own. Make sure the soil’s pH is between 6 to 7.
How to Plant Carrot Seeds in Containers
- 1. Add soil or compost to the chosen container and lightly water to create moisture.
- 2. Create planting holes, 1.5cm deep with spacing 1.5cm apart from other holes and the edge of your container.
- 3. Sow your carrot seeds thinly, filling each hole with 3 carrot seeds. Then, cover with soil and water again sparingly.
- 4. If you are growing Chantaney carrots, seedlings should appear after 14 to 21 days. Otherwise, check the sprouting time for the carrot variety you are growing.
- 5. As the seedlings develop and the plant grows, keep the soil well-watered and moist to prevent the roots from splitting and to maximise growth. However, do not soak or make the soil soggy.
What to feed your carrots
When your seedlings reach an inch tall with their first set of true leaves, we recommend feeding them with Deep Rooter. Deep Rooter stimulates root growth, which in this case happens to be the vegetable itself. Longer roots means a stronger plant.
Wait a week before adding a fertiliser as to not overload the plant. SeaFeed Xtra is a fertiliser that contains essential plant ingredients that will improve the general health of the plants.
Seafeed Xtra and Deep Rooter should then be used weekly on separate days.
Ground grown carrots may be subject to pests like carrot fly or plant diseases such as powdery mildew or root rot. However, carrots grown in pots benefit from container growing protection.
Advice for growing carrots in pots or containers. From the most suitable carrots, the ideal soil condition, which containers to use and more…
How to Grow Carrots in Containers
Take a look at the seven steps for growing carrots in containers.
Start to Finish
Whether you grow traditional orange carrots, or raise a rainbow of purple, red, white and red varieties, these crunchy, colorful veggies are fun to raise and good for you. Carrots need deep, loose soil, and when they aren’t happy in the garden, their roots become stunted, twisted or forked.
Photo by: Shutterstock/Lukas Gojda
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Find an Area to Grow
Find an area in your garden, patio, porch that will receive at least six or more hours of full sunlight. Even if it is cloudy, it will receive the UV light the carrots will need to grow sufficiently.
Research which variety of carrots that you would like to grow. It is best to stick to radish-shaped, ball, mini or Chanteray when growing in containers as their taproot is not as long as other varieties. Some preferred varieties include: ‘Romeo’, ‘Paris Market’, ‘Babette’ or ‘Hercules’. However, there are tons of different varieties to pick from and it is always fun to look through seed catalogs in the winter months to plan for spring planting. There are several seed companies that send catalog, try these for starters: Botanical Interests, Renee’s Seeds, Annie’s Annuals, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. There are many, many more just look for free seed catalogs online.
Get Planting Materials
Get all that is needed to start planting – containers, potting soil, gloves, trowel, seeds, etc. When planting carrot seeds it is ideal to plant in rows or broadcast them across a larger area (more like a grouping than row). When shopping for your containers, try finding those that are wider and shorter. Since most of the varieties will not reach more than five inches long, a container that is twice that would work fine. You want to have as much surface area as possible. When buying potting soil, every gardener has their own preference, but it is best to buy the soil that is mixed for container use. I prefer to not have any additives such as fertilizer when going vegetables because growing organically is preferred and controlling the amount of application is important.
Prep the Soil
Carrot are a cool season crop and are generally planted in the spring when soil temperatures have reached about 50 degrees F. Buying a soil thermometer is the best way to ensure the correct temperature and can easily be purchased at your local garden center. Once the soil temp has reach 50 and weeks away from your last frost date, it is time to plant your carrots seeds. Take your containers and fill them with potting soil. Fill the containers to about 3 inches from the top with soil. Take your carrot seeds and sprinkle them all over the top of the soil making sure to cover each square inch of the container. Then take a handful of soil and likely sprinkle the soil over the seeds. Once completed, use a watering can on a light setting to water in the seeds. Well the seeds are germinating it is important to water them every 1 to 3 days depending on the weather outdoors – watering less if rainy and more if hot. The soil should be kept moist at all times but not soggy. If planting more than one container with carrots, repeat the same process.
Time to Thin
Once the carrots have emerged and sprouted, it is time to thin. Typically, most carrots need about 1 to 2 inches of spacing in between, but it is best to keep your seed packet to determine what is best for that variety. Thinning is important so that each carrot can receive adequate nutrients and moisture; not competing with others in the container. This will ensure that your carrots are full of flavor and look delicious when harvested. If thinning is not for you, it can always be bypassed by purchasing seed tape or pelleted seed that is already spaced eliminating this step. Those carrots that are thinned can be used in cooking applications such as roasting or a great topper for a fresh salad.
Feed the Carrots
Every three weeks, feed your carrots with an organic foliar liquid fertilizer. This will help your carrots to receive the proper nutrition that they need. In some areas, carrot rust fly can be a problem. To provide damage, either buy a row cover or construct a small, plastic covering to prevent the fly from laying eggs. This must be done when the seeds are planted to avoid any issues.
After about 2-1/2 to 3 months, your carrots should be ready to harvest. Again keeping your seed packet is a great way to know when to harvest. Adding a reminder to your online calendar or phone is wonderful. To know if your veggies are ready, pull a couple ‘test’ carrots to see if they are the right size and shape. Then all there is to do is enjoy!
Get tips on how to grow carrots in containers from the experts at DIY Network.