Learning how to grow carrots is easy and rewarding. This versatile addition to the garden is wonderful fresh in so many dishes. One of my family favorites is an easy carrot cake recipe that calls for three heaping cups of grated carrots. If you have more than you can eat fresh, your carrots can be preserved in a wide variety of ways. You can root cellar them. You can blanch and freeze them. You can pressure can them. You can make them into soup and pressure can that. You can pickle and water bath can them. They are also one of the best freeze dried foods.
Learning how to grow carrots from seed is easy, and they do best when directly seeded in the ground. I like to get my seed from Seed Savers Exchange because they offer some unique options and their seed has always grown well in my soil. You can grow different colored carrots for a beautiful display on your table. My stepsons seem more inclined to try “funny colored” carrots than they would a normal orange carrot, so that’s a bonus! There are also different shapes of carrots, from long skinny ones to short and squat. Finally, some are spicier and some are sweeter, so read the descriptions and pick what you think your family would enjoy.
How to Grow Carrots with Seed Mats
When you get your seed packets, you will see that carrot seeds are tiny. Several years ago, while researching how to grow carrots, I discovered the method of creating seed mats. It is an easy way to plant perfectly spaced rows with hardly any waste (no thinning means no wasted seed). Because you prepare the seed mats inside, at a table or countertop instead of stooped over in the garden, it also saves your back.
To begin, determine the space you have available for your carrots. I usually work in rows about a foot wide since that’s the width of a paper towel or napkin. Inside, on a table or countertop, lay out a long sheet of paper towels or napkins the length of your row. Cheaper and thinner paper is better for your towels because you really want them to decompose in the soil.
Use a ruler to mark your seed spacing to match the suggested final spacing of your carrots. I usually place mine two inches apart, which puts about 16 seeds to a napkin. Put a piece of paper or something under the napkin because the marker will bleed through. Once you have your spacing marked, use a bottle of water-soluble glue (like Elmer’s school glue) to dab a small dot on each mark. Use your finger or a toothpick to drop one seed on each glue dot. In the corner of the napkin, write what the seeds are so you’ll remember when it’s time to plant. Leave the mats lay until dry then store until you are ready to plant. This makes for a nice project in late winter when you’re aching to get out into the garden but it’s still too cold. Make your seed mats so you’re ready to plant as soon as the weather breaks.
You can plant carrots very early in the spring, as soon as the soil can be worked or in the fall for a late harvest or early spring harvest, depending on your climate.
When you’re ready to plant your seed mats, prepare the soil by loosening it deeply. For any root vegetable, it’s important to work the soil deeply so that they can grow freely without hitting obstructions. I like to use my handy Garden Weasel to work the carrot plot. Once loosened, rake some soil off to the side, smooth out what is left, and lay down your seed mats.
Use the soil you raked off to the side to cover the mats so that they are completely hidden and buried. Be sure to label the rows so you know what is growing where and when you planted them. To have carrots continuously, consider planting a section every few weeks in early spring.
Water your mats well and keep them moist until the seeds germinate. It may take them a bit longer than usual to germinate, as the glue has to dissolve before they can grow. Soon you’ll see your feathery carrot greens springing up in perfectly spaced rows.
You’ll know your carrots are ready to harvest when their little heads begin to push up out of the ground. The temptation is to grab ahold of the greens and pull, but it is advisable to use a spade to loosen the soil around the carrot first. That way you don’t end up with a handful of greens and your carrot still in the ground!
So now you know how to grow carrots just in time for a fall planting. What will you learn about growing next? Maybe you’ve always wondered how do blueberries grow or blackberries or asparagus … you’ve definitely found the right resource for growing tips and know-how. Enjoy!
Do you have any tips for how to grow carrots? If so, join the conversation below.