How to Care for Carrots
Give your carrots the care they need by following the advice of our experts
Welcome to Homegrown/Homemade, a video series from FineGardening.com. We’ll be following a gardener (Fine Gardening executive editor Danielle Sherry) and a cook (Sarah Breckenridge) as they plant, maintain, harvest, store, and prepare garden vegetables. If you’re new to vegetable gardening, you’ll find these videos very helpful. In this video, the topic is carrots.
Episode 2: How to Care for Carrots
Sarah and Danielle interplanted the carrot bed with radishes, which grow faster than carrots and start to crowd them. Once this happens, it’s time to start pulling the radishes, largest first (both the radishes themselves and their leaves are delicious at this stage, so use them in salads or cooking). If the carrots are still too close together, snip some of the tops to open up the spacing. Dispose of the carrot tops so as not to attract carrot perfume fly. Carrots need about an inch of space all around to develop properly.
Carrots can be tricky to grow. If your carrots are deformed or stunted, there are three probable causes: rocky soil, not enough space between plants, and not enough water. Carrots are thirsty plants and need frequent, regular water, especially when the seedlings are small.
As for spacing, seedlings should be about 1 inch apart to develop properly. You can achieve this spacing by thinning, or you can sow the seed thinly. Carrot seeds are small and difficult to space individually. Mixing the seed with sand before planting will reduce the need for thinning. Another clever trick is to mix the carrot seed with radish seed. The radishes grow much faster than the carrots, so you get two crops in the same space. It’s instant succession planting.
How do you know when your carrots are ready to harvest? There are several things to look for. Carrots should be ready to harvest two to three months after planting. The tops should be thick, bright green, and about 8 to 10 in. long. Check at the base of the stem; the carrots should look thick, though, if you’ve planted them closely, some may be smaller than others. Harvest with a digging fork to loosen the carrots from the soil to prevent breakage.