Carrots Garden Guide

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Carrot Care At A Glance

  • Cool season, biennial plants are grown as annuals for spring or fall crops.
  • Most carrots prefer loose, well-drained, organically rich soils.
  • Carrot seeds can be raw, pelleted, or as seed tape. Each has individual planting rules.
  • Maintain proper planting depth with consistent moisture, proper spacing, and nutrition.

Planting Instructions

Follow seeding instructions similar to other root crops.

  • Carrot seeds can germinate in cool soils but germinate faster with warmer soil temperatures.
  • Sow when soils have warmed to at least 60°F, for germination in 7-14 days.
  • For optimal germination, tiny, pelleted, or taped carrot seeds require good seed-to-soil contact.
  • Ensure soil is loose and well-cultivated with ample amounts of organic matter that retains moisture.
  • For raw seeds, sow 1/4 inch deep, 1-2 inches apart in rows about 12 inches apart, and water gently but thoroughly.
  • Once seedlings emerge and have 2-3 sets of true leaves, thin to 1-2 inches apart.
  • For pelleted seeds, sow 1/4 in. deep, 2 inches apart, and thin as needed after emergence.
  • For seed tape, cut to the desired length, lay tape in 1/2 in. deep furrow, and cover with 1/4 inch of media, then water gently but thoroughly. Seeds are spaced properly in the tape, and little or no thinning is necessary.
  • Covering tiny carrot seeds with cheesecloth or burlap helps to hold seeds in place and avoid washouts from heavy rain or watering.

Seed germination problems

  • Most commonly caused by lack of moisture.
  • Soil temperature is too low for the expected number of days for germination.
  • Seeds are sown too deep.
  • Seeds physically dislodged seeds from rain or heavy watering.

Types & Varieties

  • Amsterdam / Baby or Bunching: Small, slender finger-shaped carrots. Excellent for eating raw. Generally fast maturing.
  • Nantes: Larger than Amsterdam types, popular summer crop with good storage capacity. They perform well in heavier soils. Nantes have conical shapes but are short with rounded blunt tips and thinner foliage. Shorter storage.
  • Chantenay: Medium-sized roots with conical shape, typically with broad shoulders and rounded tips and vigorous growing foliage. Good storage capacity and is often used for processing.
  • Danvers: Medium-sized carrots with strong shoulders and tapering to a point. Danvers are shorter than Imperator types but longer than Chantenay. Deep soil cultivation is recommended. Strong foliage and tolerant of heavy soils. Carrots that store well and are used for fresh eating or cooking and canning.
  • Imperator: Vigorous foliage, forming long, slender, sugary-flavored carrots. Prefer deep, loose soils, cultivate to 10-12 inches for full development. Often used for juicing due to its high sugar content.


  • Adhere to proper bed prep and deep cultivation for the best results.
  • Like other root vegetables, carrots are strong feeders, but high-nitrogen soils yield big tops with little to no roots. Utilize organic fertilizer with 3-5-3 or 5-3-3 formula at a pre-planting rate of 2-3 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.
  • Proper thinning depends on variety sizes (See above descriptions)
    • Baby carrots should be thinned to 3 seedlings per inch.
    • One to two per inch for small carrots.
    • One seedling per 1-2 inches for larger carrot types.
  • For late summer sowing for fall crops, sow seeds deeper (1/2 to 3/4 inches) to adjust for warmer, dryer soils.
  • Carrots are slow to develop and resent competition from weeds. Hand weed frequently after thinning.
  • Prevent green shoulders by top-dressing tops with adjacent soil or fresh compost.
  • Twisted misshaped roots can be from inadequate thinning.
  • Forked or misshaped roots are usually due to rocky, compacted soils.
    • Cultivate deeper.
    • Remove rocks or plants in raised beds.
    • Add ample amendments to improve drainage and soil composition.
  • In some regions, forked or misshapen carrot roots are caused by root-knot nematodes.
    • Consult with your county ag extension service to find out if nematodes are present.
  • Placing a board over the row or area planted will also aid in germination, but it must be removed as soon as the seedlings emerge, as the young seedlings need the light to grow. If you use a board, you must check for seedlings every day, especially after the first week.