A Guide to Growing Carrots

This fresh, vibrant crop makes a colorful and delicious addition to soups, salads and other homemade dishes.
Finger Carrots Require Deeper Finer Soil

Finger Carrots Require Deeper Finer Soil

Finger carrots are a sweet and tender favorite that packs a delicious taste whether eaten raw, canned, or pickled. Plant in sun or partial shade in the spring through summer. Deeper, finer soil is required to produce unforked roots.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Finger carrots are a sweet and tender favorite that packs a delicious taste whether eaten raw, canned, or pickled. Plant in sun or partial shade in the spring through summer. Deeper, finer soil is required to produce unforked roots.

In a large plot you can grow enough carrots to last for months, but even in small spaces you can produce a good crop, especially of the smaller varieties. Alternatively, try growing some with unusual shapes and colors.

How to Grow

Sowing early and main crop varieties will provide you with carrots from summer until winter if you have the space. Carrots prefer a dry site with light, fertile soil that has not been manured in the last 12 months. Make sure there are no stones or clods of soil because this will produce forked or misshapen roots.

Sow early varieties in early spring under cloches or garden fabric, and main crops in the open in mid-spring; sow seed in succession throughout the growing season. For a late crop, sow an early variety in midsummer. Sow at a depth of 1/2-3/4 inches about 1 inch apart, and thin plants to 4 inches apart as they grow. Allow 12 inches between rows. Thinning releases scent from the foliage, which attracts carrot fly. Try thinning in the evening to reduce the effect. Weed around the seedlings regularly by hand. Full-sized carrots are ready for harvesting after 12–16 weeks, depending on the variety. Baby carrots are ready in 8–10 weeks.

Watch Out for These Pests

Carrot flies lay eggs near young plants, which hatch into maggots that burrow into the roots. Fine netting prevents the female carrot flies from laying eggs near your crop. The netting only has to be 2 feet high since the flies stay close to the ground. Leave it in place all season. Avoid disturbing the plants during the day since this can attract the flies. 

Root aphids can also attack carrot roots, sucking sap and causing plants to wilt in warm weather. There are no suitable insecticides, so it is important to regularly water the plants, and rotate crops annually.

Types of Carrot Plants Available

  • Rounded carrots: These plants produce short roots and are ideal for growing in containers or in gardens where the soil is thin and stony. Varieties include ‘Atlas’, ‘Early French Frame’, ‘Parmex’ and ‘Rondo’.
  • Finger carrots: These crops require deeper, finer soil to produce long, unforked roots, although they can be grown as baby carrots where soil is shallow. Varieties include ‘Adelaide’ F1, ‘Fall King 2’, ‘Flyaway’ F1, ‘Maestro’, ‘Mignon’, ‘Nantes 3 Tiptop’, ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘Resistafly’.
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