Growing Tips: Carrots

Quick Reference:

Plant seed 1/8 inch deep spaced 3/4 to 1 inch apart. Germination: 12 to 18 days. Space between plants in the garden after thinning, 2 inches. Shallow planting provides warmer soil for better germination but soil MUST be kept moist at all times until seedlings emerge.

When and where to plant:

Carrots are very hardy and can be planted in Alaska as soon as the ground can be prepared and has warmed in the spring. Choose a warm, sunny garden location. Carrots grow faster in the warmer soil of a raised bed or mound and grow best in a loose, sandy loam tilled to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. To plant seed make a slight indent in the soil down the row and sprinkle seed down the indent. Because the seed germinates slowly it is best to place a radish seed every few inches down the indent to mark the row. Cover seed lightly with no more than 1/8 inch fine soil, firm soil over seed, water well for good seed-soil contact and keep moist until seedlings emerge. Since carrot seed germinates very slowly in cold soils plant the seed shallow to take advantage of the warmer surface. This makes the seed very vulnerable to drying out so it is recommended that the newly planted row be covered with clear plastic securing all four edges with soil to conserve moisture and help warm the soil. Check the row daily to make sure soil under the plastic remains moist at all times. Holes may be punched in the plastic to allow water to pass through and moisten the soil below. The plastic MUST be removed immediately when carrot seedlings begin to emerge.

Care:

Thinning is very important, because the seed is small it is usually planted too thick. When plants are 2 inches tall, thin leaving one plant every 2 inches. Deformed carrots usually mean the soil was not tilled deep enough or seedlings were not thinned adequately. Keep soil moist, weed free and apply plant food every 4 weeks.

Harvest:

Delicious fresh when young, begin pulling when the roots develop color and are finger size.