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How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Carrots

How to Grow Carrots
Carrots ready for harvest

Carrots are among the easiest garden vegetables to grow—and the most bountiful–given the right conditions.

Grow carrots in the cool time of the year—spring and autumn. Plant carrots in loose, compost-rich soil free of pebbles, stones, or other obstructions.

Carrots Quick Growing Tips

  • Sow carrots in the garden 2 to 3 weeks before the average last frost date in spring for harvest before the onset of summer heat.
  • Sow carrots again in mid to late summer as late as 12 weeks before the first fall frost for autumn harvest.
  • In cool summer regions, sow succession crops from spring to autumn every 2 to 3 weeks until about 12 weeks before the date of the average first frost.
  • Where summers are hot and winters are mild, grow carrots in autumn, winter, and early spring.
  • Carrots require from 50 to 80 days to reach maturity; baby carrots can be harvested in about 30 days.
Carrots in planting bed
How to Grow Carrots: Sow carrots in the garden 2 weeks before the last frost in spring. Succession crops can be planted every 3 weeks until 12 weeks before the first frost in fall.

Where to Plant Carrots

  • Grow carrots in full sun; carrots will grow slowly in partial shade.
  • Plant carrots in deep, loose, well-worked, and well-drained soil. Add several inches of aged compost or commercial organic planting mix to the planting beds before planting. Turn the soil to 12 inches (30cm) or more.
  • Remove clods, rocks, and solid objects from planting beds before sowing seed; carrots will split, fork, and become malformed if their roots grow into obstructions.
  • Work rock phosphate or wood ashes into the soil before planting to ensure fertility
  • Carrots prefer a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8.
  • Planting in raised or mounded beds are ideal for growing carrots.

Carrot Planting Time

  • Carrots are a cool-weather crop best grown in spring, early summer, and autumn.
  • Carrots require a soil temperature of about 45°to 85F° (7-29C°) to germinate; germination will be slow in cold soil.
  • Carrots grow best at an average temperature of 60° to 65° (15-18C°).
  • Where temperatures stay cool, sow carrots in the garden 2 to 3 weeks for succession crops.
  • It is not worth the effort to grow carrots in very warm soil or weather; success will be limited and flavor will be compromised. Carrots are most flavorful grown in cool weather and soil.
  • Where summers are hot and winters are mild grow carrots from autumn to early spring.
Sowing carrot seeds
Sow carrot seed ¼ to ½ inch deep about 1 inch apart;
** Note: Shallow depth of field

Planting and Spacing Carrots

  • Sow carrot seed ¼ to ½ inch deep about 1 inch (2.5cm) apart; in warm, dry weather sow carrot seed deeper than ½ inch.
  • Germination will occur in 14 to 21 days; keep the seedbed just moist until germination.
  • Soil crusting will slow germination. To prevent crusting cover the seed with vermiculite or peat moss instead of garden soil.
  • Soak the seed in warm water overnight or for several hours before sowing; this will speed germination.
  • Thin carrots to about 4 inches (10cm) apart in all directions in wide beds; space plants about 3 inches (7.6cm) apart in rows.
  • Overplanting seed will require extensive thinning.
  • Space rows 12 to 24 inches (30-61cm) apart.
  • Wide row planting of carrots gives a good yield from a small area.
  • Plant 30 carrots per household member.

More tips: Carrot Seed Starting Tips.

Quick sprouting carrot seeds: How to Pre-Sprout Carrot Seeds.

Carrot Companion Plants

  • Plant carrots with chives, onions, leeks, tomatoes, peas, and rosemary.
  • Avoid planting carrots with dill.

Watering and Feeding Carrots

  • Keep carrots evenly moist to ensure quick growth.
  • Do not allow the soil to dry out. Reduce watering as roots approach maturity; too much moisture at the end of the growing time will cause roots to crack.
  • Add aged compost to planting before sowing and again as a side dressing at midseason.
  • Before planting, spread wood ash over planting beds to provide extra potassium for root growth.
Carrots in rows
Thin carrots to grow 4 inches apart in all directions.

Caring for Carrots

  • Thinning carrots is very important. Thin carrots in two stages: (1) when seedlings are about 2 inches tall, thin plants to stand 2 inches apart in rows; snip off weak plants at the crown; do not disturb the roots of plants that remain; (2) at midseason, thin again; pull up some baby carrots leaving equal space between carrots that will remain to grow on to full size.
  • Keep planting beds well weeded. Shallow cultivation is necessary to avoid damaging carrot roots. Carrots cannot compete with weeds.
  • Mulch carrot beds to keep soil temperature and moisture even. Even moisture throughout the growing season is important for quick root growth.
  • Mulch with aged compost across the tops of carrots to prevent green shoulders—that is chlorophyll discoloration of root shoulders–which will leave a bitter taste.

Growing tips: Growing Carrots for Flavor.

Container Growing Carrots

  • Standard and large carrot varieties are not a good choice for containers, but short or finger varieties will grow easily in containers.
  • Half-long varieties can be grown in deep containers.
  • Plant carrots in wide rows in square or rectangular containers, or in concentric circles in a round container.

Carrot Pests

  • Carrots have no serious insect pest problems. Occasionally aphids, carrot rust flies, carrot weevils, and cutworms can pose a problem.
  • Aphids, carrot rust flies, and carrot weevils can be excluded by using a floating row cover as a barrier.

Carrot Diseases

  • Carrots have no serious disease problems. Leaf blight and root-knot nematodes may occasionally attack carrots.

When problems occur: Carrot Growing Problems: Troubleshooting.

Carrots at harvest time
Carrots can be harvested any time after they are large enough to use.

Harvesting Carrots

  • Carrots can be harvested any time after they are large enough to use.
  • Mature carrots will be ready for harvest 50 to 80 days after sowing depending upon the variety.
  • Baby carrots can be harvested in 30 to 40 days.
  • Lift one or two carrots to check the size and flavor when you are ready to harvest.
  • Regular main crop carrots are usually ready for lifting when they are ¾ to 1-inch (2.5cm) thick three-quarter inch thick.
  • Lift carrots gently by hand where the soil is loose. Where the soil is heavy, loosen the soil with a spading fork and then lift the roots gently so that they don’t break. Pull carrots when the soil is moist. Do not disturb the roots of carrots that remain in the soil.
  • The last of your crops should be harvested before the ground freezes.
  • Where temperatures reach freezing but the ground does not freeze, cover unharvested carrots with a thick mulch to prolong the harvest for a month or more.
  • Where temperatures do not drop below 20°F (-6.7°C), carrots can be left in the ground through the winter as long as they are under heavy mulch.

More harvest tips: How to Harvest and Store Carrots.

Storing Carrots

  • Carrots can be left in the ground until ready to use as long as the ground does not freeze.
  • Carrots will keep in the refrigerator or root cellar for 1 to 3 months at about 40°F (4.4°C).
  • Blanched carrots will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Carrot varieties are many
Wild carrots and hybrid varieties can be white, purple, yellow, and red–as well as orange.

Carrot Varieties to Grow

  • Short (2 to 4 inches): ‘Minipak’ (60-65 days); ‘Tiny Sweet’ (60-65 days).
  • Half-long (5 to 6 inches): ‘Danvers Half-long’ (75 days); ‘Gold King’ (70 days); ‘Royal Chantenay’ (70 days).
  • Cylindrical (6 to 7 inches): ‘Nantes Coreless’ (68 days); ‘Royal Cross Hybrid’ (70 days); ‘Tuchon Pioneer’ (75 days).
  • Standard (7 to 9 inches): ‘Gold Pak’ (75 days); ‘Imperator’ (75 days); ‘Spartan Bonus’ (77 days); ‘Tendersweet’ (75 days).
  • Multicolored carrots: not all carrots are orange; wild carrots and hybrid varieties can be white, purple, yellow, and red–as well as orange. Seed growers offer multicolor blends.

About Carrots

  • Carrots are hardy biennials grown as annuals.
  • A rosette of finely divided fernlike leaves grows from a swollen fleshy taproot which can vary in size, shape, and color.
  • Depending upon variety, carrots can be tapered and cylindrical, short and fat, round, or finger-sized.
  • Some carrots grow to 10 inches (25cm) long; others are much shorter.
  • Carrots are usually orange, but colors can vary from red to yellow to purple.
  • Shorter varieties are a good choice for heavy soil; long types require loose, loamy soil.
  • Botanical name: Daucus carota
  • Origin: Europe, Asia

More tips: How to Grow Carrots Any Time of the Year in 5 Steps.


Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.


Comments are closed.
  1. Thank you for such good advices. I’m working in an NGO where I assist our foster parents and I m also having food garden where I tasked to plant vegetables for our dropping centers. So this knowledge I’m getting here help’s me alot

  2. Thanks a lot for this tips. I’m now to get into the carrot farming.
    You have equipped me for the job. But I want to ask this question. I’m to grow them in a soilless media will it be good to use this mixture, sawdust, rice hucks and poultry waste? I’m growing in Ghana.

    • Consult with an agronomist at a nearby university or government agency in regards to your planting mix. Soilless growing mediums commonly include peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and sand; to these small amounts of fertilizer are added. Soilless mixes are commonly sterile and disease free.
      Poultry waste may be problematic depending on how it is delivered to the growing plants. You will also want to ensure that the ratio of ingredients is right for your crop.

        • Carrots prefer well-worked loamy soil; they will likely struggle in clay soil. Amend the soil the best you can. Grow short-rooted varieties such as ‘Little Fingers’; they will be small, short, and thick and may be able to grow in mostly clay soil.

  3. Am so much impressed and highly motivated to go into carrot farming after reading your educative,inovative and understable article on carrot Plantation.
    Thank you for given me this great platform.

    • Carrots are edible as soon as they are big enough to eat. You can likely harvest now. Uncover a few to decide if you can harvest. Yes, you can remove the brown leaves. Trim them is you suspect they are diseased.

  4. Hi, the weather in California is getting cold in the middle of November, around 28-32 degrees F. Should I harvest carrots before 32 degree F?

  5. Here’s a tip you guys can try if you are struggling to grow carrots. When sowing seed, place a piece of shade cloth over the top. This will keep the soil moist for longer and prevents crusting. After 3 weeks you can remove the shade cloth once the seeds have germinated. Also, be sure not to sow too deeply, a light covering of soil is plenty. This technique works great for parsnips, beets, and onions too (or any other crop you wish to direct seed).

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