Growing Carrots in Containers

Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables to buy from the supermarket. However, they can also be a relatively tricky vegetable to grow at home in your own garden, particularly, if you are growing them in containers. So what is the best way to do this?

To successfully grow carrots in containers the most important thing is the make sure that the carrots have plenty of moisture and sufficient depth in the container to grow the particular variety of carrots that you have chosen. Carrots are very healthy so you should grow them too in your garden or allotment plot. Typically, in most cases your need a depth of approximately 30 cm at least unless it is a variety with a very short taproot.

What is the best time to plant carrot seeds in containers

Carrot plants are a frost hardy vegetable that can be grown throughout the year, however, there are definitely certain periods of the year where it is significantly easier to grow the carrots. This occurs primarily because if you plant in weather that is too cold the growth rates are incredibly slow. However, if you plant in weather that is extremely hot you will also encounter problems due to the nature of the way that the carrot seeds germinate which is discussed later in the article.

As a result of this the ideal time to plant carrots is either in early spring or mid autumn. However, the precise timing will depend upon your specific climatic conditions and also whether you are growing are carrots in containers indoors, within a greenhouse or outdoors. In cases where you are growing the carrot seeds indoors, the ideal time to plant the carrot seeds is around 4-6 weeks prior to the last frost.

In autumn the ideal time to plant seeds is just as the weather is beginning to cool down and you are no longer getting those really hot summer days. Again the precise timing will depend upon whether you are growing seedlings indoors or Outdoors. If you are growing them indoors you can typically plant them earlier in the season when the weather is still relatively warm and get a reasonable germination rate.

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At this point it is important to note that the reality is that carrot seeds can be grown almost any time of the year, however, the times that we recommend a based on what is easiest to get successful germination with the main issue being constant moisture.

Preparing the containers for growing carrots

When growing carrots in containers the first thing initially is to select the particular container that you are going to grow the plants in. As mentioned earlier in the article it is important to ensure that whatever container you choose has sufficient depth to allow the carrots to grow, generally this should be around 30 cm deep.

The second critical thing to do when preparing your container is to fill it with a suitable growing medium. However, it is important to note that it is common for the degree of forking of carrots to increase in cases where the soil is nutrient rich. To reduce the chances of having this problem it is best to add compost in a 1 to 1 mixture with potting mixture or even garden soil which will reduce the nutrient levels.

When placing the soil into the container be sure to firm it down to avoid it settling later on which will expose the top of your carrots which can causing them to turn green.

How to plant carrot seeds into a container

When sowing carrot seeds into a container it is important to ensure that the soil is moist and the carrot seeds are sown thinly on the surface of the growing medium to reduce the amount of thinning you will need to do later on.

The easiest way to do this is to run a shallow farrow along the surface of the soil with your finger that is approximately 1 to 2 cm deep. The furrow should be spaced approximately 15 cm apart to allow space for the carrots to develop properly.

The seeds should then be covered over with soil and watered in well, as the trick to getting carrot seeds to germinate is ensuring that they remain constantly moist. Many gardeners have difficulty with this because they are unable to maintain moisture consistently enough to allow germination to occur which is why growing carrot seeds outdoors in the height of summer can be challenging.

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If you are experiencing problems the other method that is often used is sowing carrot seeds onto moist paper towels and leaving them in sealed containers to germinate. If you sow the carrots in lines you can then cut the paper up and lay it at the base of the furrow and cover it over with soils. Ideally, this should be done as soon as you see signs of sprouting of the carrot seeds.

After carrots as they grow 

Typically, most gardeners that grow carrots, at least for the first time, tend to sow the seeds too thickly. This means, as the seedlings appear and start to develop taproots, it will be necessary to thin them regularly. To do this is a good idea to remove every second of seedling which will provide space for the remaining seedlings to be grown on.

In cases where the carrots are still extremely small it is possible to transplant them into another container and allow them to grow on. However, if the carrots are more developed it is possible to take small and regular harvests of baby carrots as your first harvests.

The other key considerations when looking after carrots is to ensure that the watering of the plants is consistent and the containers are kept weed free. This is important as inconsistent watering will result in the carrots splitting down the sides which will reduce the quality of the harvest you receive at the end of the season.

Additionally, it is also a good idea to mulch around carrots, using straw, as the carrots mature.  The reason this is recommended is that the tops of the carrots can often be exposed to light resulting in them turning green which reduces the quality of the carrot.

However, it is important to note that carrots with green tops can still be eaten by removing the section of the character that has turn green. 

Harvesting and storing carrots

One of the biggest advantages of growing carrots at home is that they do store extremely well with little effort. Many gardeners will simply leave the carrots in the ground and pick them as required for their meals even in cases when the weather has become extremel. 

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The only time it is really necessary to remove carrots from the ground during winter is in locations where the ground is going to freeze solid. This is problematic because because it’s can become extremely hard to remove the carrots and you will often break the tap root in the process.

In these cases carrots can be stored in a cool dark location such as a garage. To avoid them becoming soft store carrots in damp sand which will simulate the carrots being left in the ground. When stored like this carrots can last several months.

However, it is important to note that the carrots can only be stored in the ground until the end of winter, just before the weather starts to warm up for the following spring. This is a problem is because the carrots quickly run to seed in warmer weather which will cause the roots to become hard and inedible. 

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