How to Grow Carrots from Seed to Harvest
You want to grow carrots in your garden or on your balcony? Great!
Although growing carrots at home is not too difficult, there are still many things to consider in order to optimize your yields and also to make your growing experience as enjoyable as possible.
In this article, I show you everything you need to know about growing carrots from seed to harvest in a step-by-step approach.
Moreover, I share some additional tips and tricks at the end of this article. Without further ado, let’s get started! 😉
Table of Contents
Carrot Plant Profile
|Size (Height, Spread)||8 to 10 inches tall and 3 to 5 inches wide.|
|Climate||Carrots grow best in moderate climates with temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Carrots grow best in half-shady environments.|
|Soil Requirements||Carrots grow best in rather neutral soil with a pH of 6.5 – 7.|
|Country of Origin||Iran.|
|Perennial?||No, carrots are grown as annuals.|
|When should you start to grow?||You can start to grow carrots after you expect the last spring frost.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||One carrot per plant.|
|Time from Seed to Harvest||60 to 80 days to grow carrots from seed to harvest.|
|Pests & Diseases||Wireworms, Weevils, Aster Yellows, Black Root Rot, Leaf Bright, Cavity Spot, Common Scab.|
|What to do with it?||You can make delicious salads or stir-fry meals out of your carrots.|
What Types and Varieties of Carrots can you grow?
You might be surprised how many different carrot varieties you can actually grow.
Below, you find a list of the most popular carrot varieties to grow.
- Solar Yellow
- Lunar White
- White Satin
- Deep Purple
- Little Fingers
- Parisian Heirloom
While I really enjoy growing the Deep Purple carrot variety right now due to the exotic color of the fruits, I would recommend you to try growing different carrot varieties in order to figure out which ones you want to continue to grow in the future.
Moreover, growing multiple varieties of carrots can also be quite a lot of fun and you will be surprised by how many different colors and shapes carrots can actually have.
Hence, just play a little bit with the different varieties if you are currently not sure which one is your favorite yet.
When should you start to grow your Carrots?
Depending on the climatic zone you live in, you can start as early as mid of March or as late as the end of Mai.
Since carrots don’t take too long to grow from seed to harvest, you are rather flexible when to start with your growing project.
However, I would not recommend you to start after the end of Mai since you might run out of time otherwise.
How long does it take to grow Carrots from Seed to Harvest?
Most carrot varieties need between 60 and 80 days to grow them from seed to harvest.
While this range is valid for the average grower, there are still many factors that influence the overall growing time.
For instance, if you live in a climatic zone that is perfect to grow carrots, you will often be on the lower end of this range.
In contrast, if you live in a climatic zone which is rather unfavorable to grow carrots, it might take significantly longer to grow your carrots from seed to harvest.
Moreover, how long it takes to grow your carrots also depends on the soil conditions and also on your overall skill level.
If you have never grown carrots before, you will likely make some mistakes which may prolong your growing time.
However, a longer growing time is not necessarily a bad thing.
In fact, I love growing plants and therefore, I am really happy if I can watch my carrot plants as long as possible.
Growing is not only about the yield, it is about loving the process.
Hence, don’t be discouraged if it takes a little bit longer to grow your carrots from seed to harvest.
Just enjoy the experience!
What is the best Climate to grow Carrots?
Carrots grow best in moderate climatic zones with decent amounts of sun.
However, they don’t like the tropics at all. Moreover, carrots also don’t like if it is too cold outside.
Thus, as long as you live in a rather moderate climatic zone where humidity levels are not too high and temperatures in summer and early fall also don’t drop below the freezing mark, you will be just fine to grow carrots in a proper manner.
What Temperatures do Carrots like?
Carrots grow best at temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, thanks to the progress seed companies made over the past decades, carrot varieties have become quite resistant to different temperatures and even though you might not be able to provide your carrot plants with those optimal temperatures, you will likely still be able to achieve respectable carrot yields.
Therefore, don’t be intimidated if you don’t live in the perfect temperature zone for growing carrots.
Chances are that you will just be fine as long as the weather in your region is not too extreme.
What do you need to grow Carrots?
Before you can actually start growing carrots, you have to get some equipment.
I provide you with a list of what to get below. You might even already have some equipment at home.
However, make sure to get the things that are still missing so that you can make your carrot growing experience as enjoyable as possible.
- Carrot seeds
- Growing bed (to grow your carrot seedlings)
- Flower pots (alternatively, you can grow your carrots in your garden and don’t need pots)
- Fertilizer (I recommend natural fertilizer or making your own fertilizer; I show you how to easily make your own fertilizer later on in this article)
- Potting soil
- Garden lime (optional)
- Slug fence (if you plant your carrots in your garden instead of using a pot)
- Garden shovel
- Watering can
- pH test kit (to determine the acidity level of your soil)
- Motivation and excitement for gardening 😉
What Yield can you expect when growing Carrots at Home?
Each carrot seedling will typically yield just one carrot. However, even though this might not seem to be much, it is still decent since you will not need too much space for each carrot plant.
In fact, you can grow many carrots on a rather confined space and therefore, you can still grow decent numbers of carrots in your garden or in a pot if you know what you are doing.
What to plant with Carrots?
You want to know what you should grow with carrots? Make sure to check out my article in which I show you the best and worst carrot companion plants.
Why should you grow your own Carrots?
To make things clear: Growing carrots has nothing to do with saving money.
In fact, you will be much better off by just buying your carrots in your local grocery store in this regard.
However, as I mentioned before, growing carrots is not only about the yield. It’s about the process itself.
I personally love to watch things grow and I really enjoy seeing the progress of my carrot plants throughout the year. Thus, for me, it is not about the end result at all.
Therefore, even though growing carrots in your garden will not make too much sense from a financial standpoint, it can still greatly improve your overall quality of life.
Moreover, growing your own carrots can also significantly lower your stress level.
In fact, if you work in a demanding job for long hours every day, chances are that you need some activity to unplug and to rest.
While some people like jogging or going to the gym, growing your own plants can be another great way to deal with stress.
In fact, growing your own plants can give you a feeling of peace and inner confidence.
Therefore, growing your own plants is much more than supplying yourself with healthy organic food.
It can rather help you for various parts of life in general.
If you want to learn even more about whether growing carrots is worth it to you or not, you should also have a look at the pros and cons of growing carrots at home.
Growing Carrots: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Carrot Plants
I hope I convinced you about the many positive effects of growing your own carrots. If so, we can now get into further detail.
The first main thing we have to figure out is the optimal location for your carrot plants.
There are several questions we have to answer in this regard.
Do Carrots like Sun?
While carrots like some sun, it is not too good for them to get excessive exposure to sun.
In fact, if carrots get full sun throughout the day, chances are that there will be plenty of foliage but also that the yield at the end will be rather limited.
Thus, make sure that you choose a spot in your garden or on your balcony where your carrots get a few hours of sun each day, but that they also get some shadow in order to balance foliage and fruit production in a healthy manner.
What are the Soil Requirements of Carrots?
Carrots don’t like if the soil is too acidic. Thus, if you want to grow carrots in your garden, you may want to mix the soil from your garden with potting soil and garden lime from the store in order to make the soil more alkaline.
If you are not sure about the pH value of the soil in your garden, you can use a test kit that you get from the internet or from your local garden store.
For growing carrots, the optimal pH value should be around 6.
How much Space do Carrots need?
Carrots don’t need much space. In fact, each carrot plants only needs around 5 inches of space in every direction in order to grow in a healthy manner.
Thus, if you have a big garden, you can potentially grow hundreds of carrots.
Since carrot plants don’t need too much space, they are also perfectly suitable for people living in homes with smaller gardens or also for people who only have a balcony at home.
Should you plant Carrots in a Pot or in the Garden?
Both options have advantages as well as weaknesses. While growing your carrots in a pot gives you more flexibility since you can change the location of your pot later on in the year, it may also limit the number of carrots you can grow.
In fact, if you want to grow a large number of carrots, you would need multiple big pots and it would indeed be much easier just to plant your carrots in your garden.
Thus, while planting carrots in pots can be a great alternative for people who don’t have a garden and still want to grow their own carrots on their balcony, I would still recommend you to grow your carrots in your garden if you have one since it will just make your life much easier if you want to grow carrots in large numbers.
2. Plant Carrot Seeds
In the previous chapter, you learned a lot about the optimal site for your carrot plants. Now it is time to go into the actual seeding process.
Should you buy Carrot Seeds or Seedlings?
While it can make sense to use seedlings for growing some vegetables, it does not make sense in case of carrots at all.
In fact, there are not too many garden stores that actually offer you carrot seedlings, and that for a good reason.
It is just far easier to grow carrots from scratch than having to drive to the garden center and getting carrot seedlings.
Moreover, if you go for carrot seedlings, you will also miss an important part of the actual growth process.
Growing your carrots from seed to harvest is crucial so that you understand how nature actually works and it is also much more fun compared to just buying carrot seedlings from the store.
Hence, I definitely recommend you to grow your carrots from seed instead of using seedlings from the garden center.
Should you buy Carrot Seeds or produce Seeds by yourself?
If you grow carrots for the first time, you will simply have no choice other than to get your seeds from your garden store or through the internet.
Carrot seeds can only be harvested from carrot flowers.
However, if you haven’t grown carrots before, you will also have no carrot flowers from which you can get your carrot seeds.
Therefore, for the first carrot growing year, just get your seeds from a seed company.
For the next years, you can just get your seeds from your carrot flowers and you no longer have to rely on seed companies.
How to plant Carrot Seeds
Now that you got your carrot seeds, it is time to start with the actual planting process. In order to grow your seedlings, you first need to fill your growing bed with potting soil.
Make sure to leave a few inches of space in the vertical when filling your growing bed.
After you are done, just place the carrot seeds on the soil surface.
You should leave around 3 inches between each seed so that your carrot seedlings can develop in a healthy manner.
After you finished placing your seeds, just cover them with an additional layer of potting soil of around one inch in height.
In the last step, just water your seeds and you are good to go.
Make sure to place your growing bed at a bright and warm spot inside your four walls in order to give your seeds the optimal conditions to germinate.
How long does it take to see the first Carrot Seedlings?
Your first seedlings will usually become visible to you within the first two weeks after you planted your seeds in your growing bed.
However, please note that it can also take a while until all seedlings will reach the soil surface.
Hence, don’t get worried if it takes a little bit longer than expected.
Always remember that growing your own plants is a hobby that requires time and that is also meant to slow down your hectic life a little bit.
Please also make sure that you plant enough seeds. Many beginners make the mistake to just plant as many seeds as they want to get seedlings. However, this is a big mistake.
What I mean by that: Not all seeds will turn into seedlings. Many seeds will just rot and will never turn into seedlings.
Hence, make sure that you grow many more seeds than you actually want to get seedlings.
A good ratio for growing seeds to seedlings is around 3:1.
That means that if you want to get 10 seedlings you should plant around 30 seeds to be relatively sure to reach this goal.
If you really get too many seedlings, you can just give them away to your friends who will often be quite thankful that you saved them some effort.
How to protect your Carrot Seedlings indoors
As long as you keep your carrot seedlings inside your home, there will not be too many dangers waiting for them.
In fact, if you don’t have pets, you can just let them grow in the growing bed and you will be good to go.
However, in case you have pets, make sure that you place your growing bed at a location that is not reachable for your pets in order to protect your seedlings from greedy attackers 😉.
When should you transplant your Carrot Seedlings?
While some people will transplant their carrot seedlings multiple times, I am not a big fan of that at all.
In fact, transplanting involves stress for your plants and I usually only transplant my carrot seedlings one time when it is time to get them outdoors.
There are basically two conditions that have to be met before I want to transplant my carrot seedlings.
The first one is about height. In fact, if your carrot seedlings are not big enough, they will be quite vulnerable to various outside conditions and may die off sooner or later.
Hence, I would suggest you wait until your carrot seedlings reach a minimum height of 3 inches.
Once this criterion is met, you also have to make sure that the outside temperature is warm enough.
Warm enough means that temperatures should no longer drop below the freezing point since your seedlings will still be quite vulnerable to the cold.
If both criteria are met, you are ready to transplant your carrot seedlings to your garden or to a pot outdoors. In order to transplant your carrots to your garden, you first have to prepare your site.
You have to dig many small holes of about 5 inches in length and width and mix the soil from your garden with potting soil and a little bit of garden lime.
After you are done, just place one seedling at each spot and you are good to go.
If you want to grow your carrots in a pot, just fill your pot with potting soil and add a bit of garden lime and place your seedlings into your pot.
And here you go. You successfully transplanted your seedlings, congratulations!
What kind of Protection do Carrot Seedlings need outdoor?
Once you transplanted your seedlings outdoors, they will no longer enjoy the safe environment they had inside your home.
Thus, it is now time to think about some additional protection measures.
The most common and also quite effective way to protect your carrot seedlings is to just use slug fences.
Those fences are not only ideal to protect your carrot plants from snails, they will often also deter many other potential attackers.
Thus, I would recommend using slug fences for protecting your seedlings instead of using any chemical alternatives in order to protect our environment.
3. The Carrot Growth Process
Once you protected your carrot seedlings, the hardest part of your growth process will actually lie behind you.
Your carrot plants will become more resistant over the next weeks and will also become less vulnerable to outside influences.
However, even though you have already done the majority of the work required to grow your own carrots at home, you still have to consider some aspects which I show you in the following.
Should you prune your Carrot Plants?
No, pruning your carrot plants is not necessary at all. In fact, you will do much more harm than good by pruning carrot plants since you will take away some of the power from your plants.
Instead of pruning your carrots, just let them grow and let nature develop according to thousands of years of evolution or even millions of years of evolution.
In fact, in my opinion, when you grow your carrot plants, you should not interfere too much with natural processes and just let nature do its work.
Nature knows what it’s doing, often way better than we as humans might think 😉.
Do you have to pollinate your Carrot Plants by Hand?
No, you don’t have to pollinate your carrots. However, if you want to harvest carrot seeds to grow your own carrots in future years, make sure that you watch your carrot flowers carefully and to win the seeds when it is time to do so.
If you are not sure when exactly it will be time to harvest carrot seeds, you can just cut one flower of your carrot plant and see if there are already seeds in it. If yes, you can just store those seeds.
If not, you can just wait a little bit longer and then try to harvest seeds from your other carrot plants.
Over time, you will get a pretty good feeling regarding when it will actually be time to harvest carrot seeds.
However, please note that this step is just optional. If you want to continue to buy your carrot seeds from seed companies, you don’t have to bother with this step at all.
How to stake your Carrot Plants
In contrast to many other plants, there is no need to stake your carrot plants at all. Since they will stay rather small and compact, carrot plants do not need to be staked and stabilized.
In fact, they will get quite robust to outside influences and you can just let them grow instead of stabilizing them through different possible measures.
4. The Carrot Harvest
After you carried out all the steps from this article in a proper manner, you should be able to harvest the fruits of your efforts a few months after you started your carrot growing project.
When should you harvest your Carrots?
It will be pretty easy to spot when it is time to harvest your carrots. In fact, you can pick your carrots when they are around half an inch in diameter.
You can see the diameter of your carrots since the upper end of your carrots will be visible above the ground.
Hence, when your carrots reached this diameter size, they are usually ready to harvest.
Of course, don’t harvest all of your carrots at once. Just pick one carrot, harvest it and taste it. If it tastes well, you can also harvest your other carrots.
If they taste like they need some additional time, just give your carrots a few more days and see how they progressed.
How to store your Carrots?
Storing your carrots is pretty simple. Just put them into a box and place that box in a dry, cool and dark spot in your home.
However, please note that while you will often be able to store your carrots for a few weeks or even months, they are still best right after you harvested them.
Consequently, don’t wait too long until you finally eat your carrots to get the maximum of taste and healthy nutrients out of them.
What should you do with your Carrots?
You can use your carrots in a quite versatile manner. In fact, you can just use them for a nice stew, make a tasty salad or also just eat them just as they are.
Thus, whatever you prefer, just go for it. You can even create your own carrot dishes and share them via social media and with your family and friends if you want to.
Carrot Plant Care Tips
While you already know about 90% of what you need to grow your carrots in an optimal manner, I give you some general additional information in the following to further optimize your growing experience.
How often should you irrigate Carrots?
You should irrigate your carrots on a regular basis. Especially in hot summers, it will often be necessary to irrigate your carrots on a daily basis, especially if you plant them in pots.
You should also rather water your carrots too much than too little since excessive water will vanish into the groundwater or into your planter anyways.
If you are not sure whether your plants need water or not, you can just have a look at their leaves.
If the leaves hang and it is not yet time to harvest your carrots, it is often a sign that your carrots need water.
Of course, you can also just dig a small hole next to your carrot and feel with your finger whether the soil is still wet or not.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Carrot Plants?
The best time of the day to water your plants usually is in the early morning. However, don’t take this concept too seriously.
In fact, from my experience, it will not matter too much whether you irrigate your plants in the morning or in the evening.
Just make sure that you water your carrots on a regular basis and also to give them water whenever they look like they urgently need it.
How often should you fertilize your Carrot Plants?
If you used the soil mix I mentioned earlier, you will be good to go and there will be no need for additional fertilizer most of the time.
In fact, using fertilizer can do much more harm than good if you use too much of it.
Hence, if you still want to use fertilizer, make sure that you just use pretty confined amounts of it in order not to harm your carrots.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Carrot Plants?
If you decide that you want to use additional fertilizer due to various reasons, you should rely on natural instead of chemical fertilizer to protect our environment and also your soil in the long run.
It is also quite simple to make your own natural fertilizer. You just need to collect some stinging nettles, fill a bucket with water and put them in there.
After a few days, just remove the plant material and you have a great natural fertilizer which you can use on a regular basis for your carrot plants.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Carrots?
You can not only use the stinging nettle liquid for fertilizing purposes, you can even use it as natural pesticide.
In fact, if you spray this liquid onto your carrot plants, most pests will no longer want to attack your carrots since they don’t like the taste of this liquid at all.
Thus, your stinging nettle liquid will also make chemical pesticides obsolete.
To also avoid the use of herbicides, just remove unwanted weeds by hand and you are good to go.
If you want to get even more information on carrot pests, also make sure to check out my article where I show you exactly how to control carrot pests and diseases.
What’s left to say?
You finally made it to the end, congratulations! Honestly, I am quite honored if you made it to this point.
I know it was a pretty long grower’s guide, but it had to be that long in order to give you all the information that is necessary to grow your carrots from seed to harvest in a successful manner.
If you liked this article, feel free to share it via social media and also with your family and friends.
Moreover, make sure to also check out my growing carrot FAQs if you want to get even more information on how to grow carrots at home in a proper manner.
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.