How to Grow Carrots in Containers
Carrots of any type or colour are a great seed to get you or the kids started in gardening. They require little skill, minimal care and minimal effort. You’re almost guaranteed a delicious harvest in the late summer.
There are many odd colours of carrot seed, such as Purple Haze carrots that you’ll very rarely see fresh grown in the stores. If you shop at farmers markets or organic markets you may see some purple carrots but that’s about it, all the other odd coloured ones you’ll have to grow yourself.
Seed types such Kaleidoscope mix are great and very interesting. It’s a mixture of white, yellow and orange carrot seeds in one package.
Before planting, mix the purple carrot seeds and Kaleidoscope mix carrot seeds in your seeder of choice and then start planting!
Doing it this way makes it a super fun way to grow and then pick, especially for kids because you never know which colour is going to pop up next!
There are so many different, delicious and beautiful types of carrot that you can grow, that the choices are almost endless. You can use the harvest on a summer veggie platter and create a gorgeous rainbow and amaze your guests.
Types of Carrot
There are many varieties of carrots, all with different sizes and characteristics meant to suit a multitude of growing conditions and needs.
The main types are shown in the image below: Imperator, Chantenay and Nantes.
- Purple Dragon carrots are thicker and a bit stumpy with a thick purple ring, like Nantes
- Purple Haze is longer and slimmer with a thinner purple ring, like Imperator
I prefer Purple Haze because they are slimmer and have a softer texture. Also, when you pick them young, they’re so sweet and delicious.
This is a great way to introduce kids to gardening and might even make carrots more interesting for them to eat.
Carrots prefer a looser, lighter soil with some perlite mixed in. This makes it easier for the roots to grow long and straight down.
For a small number of tubs or containers then I recommend buying good quality bagged potting soil for containers from your local garden center.
If the soil is dense, the carrots will struggle to grow through it. They will be shorter, more stumpy and sometimes growing in odd directions with two or three legs.
If they run into a rock or are grown in rocky soil then the carrots sprouts will grow around them and become crooked and bent in crazy ways.
Type of Container
All varieties of carrots will be happy growing in any container that is more than 12″ deep. I recommend 18″or 24″deep. Using a raised bed is great too.
These methods offer plenty of room for them to grow and also you will likely be harvesting them early anyway and getting delicious, sweet young carrots.
Carrots are usually 60 to 75 days to harvest depending on variety. They prefer the cooler weather of spring and early fall to be planted.
You can plant successive crops every couple of weeks in the spring and late summer as long as you have enough time before things freeze.
Carrot seeds are very tiny and hard to manage. Once sprinkled on the soil they can be hard to see so it becomes difficult to know when you’ve planted the right amount. It’s very easy to over plant a carrot container.
If you over plant a container you’ll know it when the sprouts come up. If this happens, let them grow a bit and see just how many come up.
Then you’ll need to carefully cut out some of the small sprouts with scissors to leave room for the larger ones to grow.
Use sharp scissors or fine pruners to cut them off at ground level. The root will die and feed the soil while allowing the stronger seedlings room to grow.
Don’t pull them out! There is high risk of damaging or pulling out neighbouring sprouts and killing them too. It’s best to just snip them off.
Why? It’ll save you a lot of wasted seeds.
There are inexpensive little gadgets called “seeders” that you can buy easily right here that will help you sprinkle a controlled amount of seeds.
The one to the right is effective by using a succession of small holes for sprinkling through different sizes of seeds.
There are more sophisticated seeders as well such as this one: the Tenax Precision Air Suction Seeder will allow you to completely control how many seeds are applied to the soil.
They are really a big help to prevent over seeding, choose the one you like the best.
Planting the Seeds
One package of seeds will go quite far and will be enough for 2 large 18″ containers. Even I can’t resist putting more seeds than that in two containers.
Once they’re planted and covered with a thin layer of soil, use a gentle sprinkler to water them. Doing this ensures you don’t turn up the soil and disturb the seeds. Use a watering can with small holes or a hand sprinkler with a soft spray.
Days to Sprout
They don’t need tons of water but if there is no rain, water them enough so that the surface doesn’t dry and form crust.
It’s good to keep the top few inches of soil moist. Then if the outside temperature is right, then you should see sprouts popping up in 14 – 17 days.
It’s important to note that the seeds will lie dormant or stop growing right where they are if the temperature dips or isn’t yet high enough to meet their ideal growing temperature. The optimum temperature for them is 16° – 18° C which is 61° – 64° F.
They will resume growing as though nothing happened when the temperature rises into this range.
Keep them lightly watered but not too wet while they grow. Then 60 – 75 days from planting you’ll be able to start to picking the size carrots you can use for dinner and snacking on. It’s really hard to wait that long!
Enjoy Eating Them
Select the largest greens and then gently pull them up and wash off the soil. You won’t even have to peel them, they′ll have a deliciously irresistible, earthy flavour.
They also cook faster than store bought carrots, so watch them closely if you add them in to dinner.
This should be enough instructions to get you going when you want to learn how to grow carrots in containers or raised beds.
Please leave a comment below if you need additional help getting your delicious carrot garden started.