How to grow & care for carrot
Carrots are an easy to grow, staple vegetable that’s worth including in your garden. They’ll happily grow in a full sun to part-shaded spot with a free draining soil and you can grow them easily in pots. The trick to straight carrots is a soft and friable soil, free from rocks, lumps and heavy clay. Prepare the bed for planting by forking it over to remove any lumps and adding compost or Scotts Osmocote Compost Premium Soil Improver.
Did you know that not all carrots are orange! Heirloom carrots come in a range of colours including reddish orange, purple and white. You can even find round carrots that are perfect for shallow soil or planting in pots. Carrots are best sowed from seed directly where you want them to grow as transplanting seedlings will often cause funny misshapen carrots.
Carrots can be grown year round throughout Australia, but they taste best when they grow quickly which they’ll do during the warmer months. If your summers are extremely hot and dry though, sow them outside the peak of summer for best results.
Top 5 steps to growing carrots
- Choose a full sun position or a spot protected from the hot afternoon sun during the hottest months.
- Improve the soil before planting by adding compost or Scotts Osmocote Compost Premium Soil Improver and fork it through the top 20-30cm of the soil, breaking up any soil lumps as you go.
- Direct sow carrot seeds into prepared soil, sow them thinly but don’t panic if they are too close together, you can thin them as the seedlings grow. If handling the tiny seeds is tricky, look for Carrot Seed-Tape.
- To have a continual harvest of carrots sow a new patch every 6-8 weeks. Each crop will be ready to harvest 8-12 weeks after planting.
- Slugs and snails are a big problem for young carrot seedlings. Sprinkle Defender Slug & Snail pellets around to keep your crops from attack.
- Carrot seeds or seedlings (but growing from seed is best, look for seed-tape carrot seeds to make sowing them at the right spacing easy)
- Scotts Osmocote Compost Premium Soil Improver
- Scotts Osmocote Plus Organics All Purpose (including Natives) Plant Food & Soil Improver
- If growing in pots, Scotts Osmocote Plus Organics Premium Potting Mix and a suitable pot
- Garden fork
- Defender Slug & Snail pellets
Choose a full sun to part shade spot for your carrots. During the warmest months of the year it’s best to grow carrots in part shade spot with protection from the hot afternoon sun.
Enrich the soil before planting carrots with Scotts Osmocote Compost Premium Soil Improver, dug through the top 20-30cm of soil with a garden fork to make it loose, friable and lump free.
Growing from seeds
Sow carrot seeds directly into the bed or pot you want them to grow in. Lightly sprinkle the seeds into a shallow furrow you’ve made on the soil surface. Don’t worry if the seeds are too densely sown, you can thin them out easily as the seedlings grow. Very lightly cover the carrot seeds with 5mm of soil or potting mix and gently water them in. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate in 1-3 weeks.
Once the carrot seedlings are 5-10cm tall they can be thinned to the recommended spacing (check the instructions on the seed packet, as each variety will be slightly different).
Fertilise with a light sprinkle of Scotts Osmocote Plus Organics All Purpose (including Natives) Plant Food & Soil Improver once the carrots are thinned to their correct spacing. Mulch around your carrot plants to suppress weeds and retain moisture.
Planting in pots
Carrots can easily be grown in medium pots at least 20-30cm deep by the same width. Choose a variety of carrots that doesn’t grow very long if growing in pots - the cute round roots of Carrot ‘Paris Market’ are perfect for pots and they are best harvested when no bigger than a golf ball.
Fill the pot with Scotts Osmocote Plus Organics Premium Potting Mix and either direct sow seeds onto the potting mix surface. Lightly cover with 5mm of potting mix and keep the potting mix moist as the seeds germinate (which could take 1-3 weeks).
Position your pot in a full sun spot, but with some protection from hot afternoon sun during the warmest months.
Fertilise with a light sprinkle of Scotts Performance Natural All Purpose Organic Based Fertiliser on the potting mix surface 6-8 weeks after planting.
Regular watering of carrots is critical in pots, as small pots in particular can dry out quickly in summer - but never let the potting mix become soggy or you’ll rot the carrots. Mulch around carrot plants to suppress weeds and retain moisture.
Depending on the variety of carrot you’ve grown, you’ll be able to begin harvesting from around 8 weeks after planting and most of the crop should be harvested before it’s more than 12-16 weeks old. Leaving carrots in the ground for too long will cause them to split and lose their sweetness.
Pests & Diseases
Slugs and Snails will cause significant damage to carrot seedlings, particularly when they are very small. Protect your carrot crop by setting beer traps (saucers filled with beer) or use Defender Slug & Snail pellets.