Growing Carrots:
How to Grow Carrots Organically

Growing carrots is a relatively easy task, but it requires patience. Carrots need full sun and rich, loose sandy loam soil. They do not transplant well, so you’ll need to sow them directly in your garden a couple of weeks before the last frost of the season.

Growing Carrots: Plant Snapshot (Daucus carota)

Growing Carrots
  • Family: Apiaceae (Carrot family)
  • Annual or Perennial? Annual - Ready to harvest 65 to 70 days after planting.
  • Recommended varieties: Red Cored Chantenay, Oxheart, Nantes Fancy, Sugarsnax 54, Sweetness II
  • Cold tolerance: Hardy - Will survive hard frosts and can be planted 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last 32 degree F (0 degree C) temperature in spring.
  • Required Sun: Full sun (at least 6 hours each day)
  • When planning vegetable crop rotation, group with crops from this family: Aplaceae: parsnip, celery
  • Companion plants (see Companion Planting Charts for more info):
    • Companions: Beans, Cabbage family, Chives, Leeks, Lettuce, Onion family, Peas, Peppers, Radish, Rosemary, Sage, Tomato
    • Avoid: Caraway, Celery, Dill
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Growing Carrots: Planting the Seed

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Carrots grow best in deep, nutrient-rich soil.

Their seeds do not germinate quickly, so it's a good idea to mix some fast-sprouting radish seeds in with the carrots seeds in order to mark the row. The radish seedlings will also help the tiny carrot seedlings emerge by loosening any crusted soil.

When planting carrot seeds, do your best to space them about ½ inch (12.7 mm) apart. Any closer and you’re thinning job will be much more demanding as they grow.

Carrot seeds prefer warm, moist soil. To keep the soil temperature up, gardeners in cooler climates should place plastic mulch over the newly planted carrots until the tops start to peek out. After they do, consider covering your carrots with sawdust, vermiculite or sand in order to protect the new seedlings and help keep the soil moist.

Snapshot: Planting Carrots

  • Planting depth: about 1/2 inch (12.7 mm)
  • Spacing in rows: about 2 to 3 inches (5.08 to 7.62 cm)
  • Germination soil temperature: 45 to 85 degrees F (7.2 to 29.4 degrees C) (the warmer the soil, the faster they will germinate)
  • Days to germination: 6 to 10 days
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Growing Carrots: From Germination to Pre-Harvest

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If you planted your carrot seeds thickly, then you will need to thin them once the plants are about three inches tall. This can be done with a garden rake, but it’s better to be more precise with some floral shears. Leave no less than 2 inches (5 cm) between each plant.

Excessive thinning can attract the carrot root fly, so be sure to place the cuttings in your compost pile.

For ideal taste and growth, try to keep the carrot’s soil temperature below 70 degrees F (21 C).

During your carrots’ growth, remove any garden weeds by hand. Apply mulch as needed to help conserve soil moisture or and grass clippings to maintain lower soil temperatures.

Continue to ensure that carrots get full sun and plenty of moisture.

Snapshot: Growing Carrots

  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 5.5 to 7.0
  • Growing soil temperature: 45 to 85 degrees F (7.2 to 29.4 degrees C) (but ideally between 60 and 70 F / 15.6 and 21 C)
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Growing Carrots: Harvesting Time

Harvest spring carrots before the weather gets too hot, and harvest fall crops before the first freeze. You can determine when your carrots are the size you want by looking at their tops, which should be poking through (or be slightly below) the soil.

Harvest by pulling your carrots out of the ground by hand. Grab the carrot roots directly (not the tops which tend to break off) and yank them from the soil. If you are having problems, you can use a trowel to help pry the carrots from the ground.

Snapshot: Harvesting Carrots

  • Time to harvest: About 65 to 70 days after planting
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Storing Carrots and Freezing Carrots

To store carrots, wash them then cut off their stems down to about 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the root, then place into perforated plastic bags. They’ll keep in the refrigerator for two to four months.

Carrots may also be stored outdoors in a pit and underneath a heavy layer of mulch. Others choose to store their carrot harvest in a cold cellar. If you take this route, layer them in damp sand or sawdust.

To prepare carrots for freezing, remove tops, wash and peel. Small carrots can be left whole, while larger carrots can be cut into thin circles, lengthwise strips or small cubes. Blanch whole carrots for five minutes and blanch lengthwise-cut, diced or sliced carrots for two minutes. Cool, drain, package and freeze.

Carrot seeds are viable for three years.

Snapshot: Storing Carrots & Freezing Carrots

  • Storage temperature: 32 to 40 degrees F (0 to 4.4 degrees C)
  • Humidity: 90 to 95% relative humidity
  • Storage life (unfrozen in above conditions): 2 to 4 months
  • Storage life (frozen): up to 6 months
  • Seed longevity: About 3 years
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Growing Carrots: Pests & Diseases

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Carrots. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.

Pests

  • Aphids
  • Carrot rust fly
  • Cutworms
  • Darkling beetles
  • Flea Beetles
  • Garden symphylans
  • Grasshoppers
  • Nematodes
  • Seedcorn maggot
  • Vegetable weevil
  • Whiteflies
  • Wireworms

Diseases

  • Bacterial soft rot
  • Beet leafhopper transmitted virescense agent
  • Cavity spot
  • Damping off and root dieback
  • Leaf spots
  • Powdery Mildew
  • White mold
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