I admit when I first started growing carrots in containers they were terrible. When I saw the green stems my eyes lit up but when I pulled them up my heart sank. Oh no, minuscule carrots that deteriorated to nothing after I had cleaned and peeled them.
However, over the years and through a lot of trial and error, I started producing better carrots. Growing carrots in containers is a good place to start so please read on to find out everything you need to know about growing great carrots in containers. An ideal project for the beginner or novice and baby carrots are fast-growing!
What you will need
You will need the following equipment:
- Container Suitable for growing carrots
- Carrot seeds
- Watering Can
- Multipurpose Compost
- General Fertilizer
Best Soil For Carrots
I live in a clay soil area, this is great for certain veg like potatoes and courgettes but terrible for carrots. The best option if your not sure about your soil type is to grow them in compost. Carrots in containers will do well in compost but will do even better if you mix in the sand at a ratio of 50 : 50 this will provide a lighter soil with less risk of the roots splitting and becoming misshapen. I plan to do an experiment with this and I will record the results.
Best Containers For Carrots
There are lots of options here but what you want is a container that is at least 1ft / 12″ deep. The deeper the better because the carrot root tip will go deep. I have had great success growing carrots in buckets.
As well as deep containers a steep side rather than angled or tapered is ideal. Personally I use the fabric potato bags or raised beds. You can grow baby carrots or finger carrots in containers.
These 10 gallon containers are perfect for growing carrots, the depth is important as well as the ability to easily move around if needed.
What Are The Best Carrot Varieties For Containers
The best varieties for growing in containers or pots are the baby and pencil varieties. Many shorter varieties are suitable:
- Early Nantes
- Chantenay Red Cored
- Paris Market Round
- Amsterdam Forcing
- Carrot Malbec
How To Grow Carrots In Containers?
So you have everything on the equipment list and you are ready to start growing.
When To Grow Carrots In Containers?
You can grow carrots in containers all year round in the right conditions but I am going to assume you are going to grow your carrots outside in pots. The best time to start them off in early spring when the frost has passed. This will give your carrots seeds the right conditions for the seeds to start growing. Warm soil, moisture and the right light conditions are all key.
Preparing your container or pot
Good drainage is key so make sure your container has adequate holes for drainage. It’s worth checking even shop brought containers have holes in as they don’t always have drainage. Resist the urge to poke holes in the bottom always use a power drill.
Next, you want to put some stones or gravel in the bottom of the container or pot to help with drainage. Good drainage is ideal for carrots. If you are going to use a combination of compost and sand now is a good time to mix this in a larger container at a ratio of 50:50. Normal builders sharp sand is best and is cost-effective.
Fill the pot or container with your compost and sand mix. Firm down the compost but not too firm.
Sow The Carrot Seeds
Sprinkle the seeds straight from the packet, your hand or use a seed dispenser. Sow a seed every few cm’s or 1″. Lightly cover with soil but keep at least 1″ from the top of the container to help water retention later.
Water regularly using a light spray to keep the soil moist. The seeds will start to germinate in a few weeks.
The process called thinning out refers to picking the weakest plants so the strongest can survive. If you don’t thin out then the carrots won’t be as big and many plants will compete for precious resources. Carry out this process every few weeks. Look for the seeds that are very close to each other and pinch out the smallest plant.
I feed all my veg with a general all round soluble fertilizer every two weeks. Follow the packet directions and store correctly.
Water every day unless its heavy rain. With containers its important to water more than you need. So use a full large watering can on each dozen plants.
Start to pull up your carrots after around 60 days pull a carrot up and see what you have got. If the carrot isn’t up to scratch then leave for a week and try again. You cannot put carrots back in the soil when you have raised them. They don’t transplant well from container or into the soil.
Using Carrots In The Kitchen
Freshly pulled carrots are a treat. My kids love pulling up the carrots but there is a little more work involved than supermarket carrots before you can use them.
- Cut off the green leaves / stem close to the carrot head. Dont forget this waste can be composted.
- Thoroughly wash the carrots with a spare nail or brush for washing vegetables
- Peel the carrots
- cut off the tops and bottoms
- prepare for eating
My favourite thing to do with carrots is to quarter them and roast in the oven.