Carrots can be a little bit tricky, but there are a few tricks you can do to when it is time for planting carrot seeds.
Fresh carrots straight from the vegetable garden are one of the most fun things to enjoy. Pulling the top of the carrot up through the soil and seeing those carrot plants is so rewarding. As a mom of lots of littles, carrots are one of the plants that I suggest letting the little fingers do most the work as they can get overly excited while planting, but thinning them out isn’t a big deal. When it comes time to harvest, that same little finger that put them into the ground will have the best time pulling it out of the ground.
When is it time for planting carrot seeds?
In order to get a carrot crop, there are just a few things you should know first.
- Carrot seeds need at least 40 degree F to germinate. This means that if it is very early spring, make sure the temperatures are warm enough.
- Carrots won’t germinate over 80 degrees F. Hot weather is not good, as carrots are a cool season crop.
What does this mean? Carrots are a bit picky on temperature. They can handle a little bit of frost, so carrots are one of the first plants that home gardeners will plant in their garden, about 2-3 weeks before the average last frost date. Just make sure the soil temperatures are in the ideal range, and you can get a continuous supply of tender carrots for a good while. Carrots are one of the few vegetable plants that won’t be started inside, but require direct sowing.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my full disclosure here.
Supplies Needed for Homegrown Carrots
- Seeds: Heirloom seeds are preferred but any carrot seeds will work
- Untreated wood board
Location for Planting Carrot Seeds
Choose a spot in your garden for a carrot bed that has full sunlight, good drainage, and loose soil. We do the no-till gardening method, so I like to just remove the mulch from the soil surface and use my hands to do a bit of mixing. If you prefer, a garden fork would be a good tool to use here to aerate the soil. Carrots will grow in less than ideal soil conditions, however you won’t harvest “pretty” carrots like you see in a grocery store. If you do not use no-till garden method, make sure to remove all the weeds from the garden. Carrots are great to plant next to tomatoes.
Planting Carrot Seeds
Water the soil before planting. Moist soil is a good starting point.
The easiest way to get started is to grab an untreated wood board and use the side of it to make a carrot row.
Carrot seeds are tiny, making them difficult to plant one by one. This is okay because you can thin them out later if they are too thick.
Sow carrot seed by dropping onto the soil. In a perfect row of carrots, the seeds should be planted about every inch and a half. Check the seed packet though because some carrot varieties will need up to 2-3 inches.
Lightly press on carrot seed with finger. Don’t push too hard, just enough that the carrot seed won’t blow away in the wind. If carrot seeds are planted too deep, they won’t have enough energy to sprout through the soil surface.
Place the same untreated wood board you used to make the row and cover the carrot seeds up. This is a trick that I have used for many years and it makes great germination rates. By placing the board on top of the tiny seeds, it helps prevent them from blowing away or being washed out by any rain. The boards don’t have to be fancy. I just find pieces of scrap wood to use.
About a week after planting, you will want to start checking for any sprouts every day. Once the carrot seeds have sprouted, remove the board. Typically, you will probably start to see the sprouting 10-14 days after planting.
Once you have carrot seedlings going, you will need to make sure they have constant moisture. Water carrots at least once a week if not receiving rain. Carrots need about an inch of water a week.
When the carrot tops get to about 1 inch, thin out the carrot row. Depending on the variety, it will be around 1.5-3 inches apart. Snip the carrot greens with scissors and use the green tops in salads or smoothies. I like to start out by thinning them to about every one inch apart and then a bit later, thin them again by harvesting baby carrots so they will then be about 3 inches apart.
Mulch can be spread lightly on top of the garden soil surrounding the carrots at this point.
Tips for Planting Carrot Seeds
- Tomatoes are a great companion plant for carrots, so plant a carrot row in between tomato rows.
- For a continuous harvest, I like to plant another row of carrots as soon as I remove the wood board from one row.
- Too much nitrogen in soil will cause carrots to have a poor flavor.
- Do not plant carrots next to dill.
- For a fall harvest, sow seeds in mid- to late summer—starting about 10 weeks before your average first frost.
- Planting radishes with carrots is a smart way to remember where the carrot seeds were planted. Radishes are quick-growing root vegetables. Harvest radishes and it will be about the same time that the carrots are starting to grow.
Diseases from Planting Carrot Seeds
Carrot fly is a common carrot pest that will ruin your carrot roots. Some symptoms of carrot fly are the carrot leaves turning rusty red or even scarlet red with some yellowing. Rusty-brown tunnels will be seen under the outer skin of roots. To help prevent carrot fly, plant carrots next to onions, rosemary, or marigold.
Alternatively, using a row cover is a good way to prevent any disease carrying pests into your carrot bed.
Technically, yes you can just scatter carrot seeds. In fact, I do this every year when planting carrot seeds. It’s fun to see random carrots pop up throughout the garden.
No, you do not need to soak carrot seeds before planting. Just water the area that the carrot seeds will be sowed before planting. However, if you wanted, you can place carrot seeds in a cup of warm water for about an hour before planting.
Other Gardening Posts You Might Like:
- How & When to Plant Marigold Seeds for Your Vegetable Garden
- How to Germinate Pepper Seeds
- How to Plan a Family Garden for a Year’s Supply of Food