Growing Carrots in Raised Beds

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This week I have been starting a new crop…I’m planting carrot seeds in one of my garden beds. Last year I attempted to grow carrots in one of those window boxes…I didn’t think it was deep enough to allow a long tapered veggie like carrots to develop, but that wasn’t the case. Carrots come in lots of varieties now. I have always preferred baby carrots because they have a nice, sweet flavor, I like to add cinnamon, butter, etc., to them and toss them in the oven for a nice side dish.

They are more unique than you might think , in fact some of the earliest carrots cultivated (in the Netherlands, according to sources) were purple, not the obligatory orange!

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carrot tops sprouting

Some are white, reddish, yellow, and some are short and stubby, too. If you think you would like a change of pace from the long and tapered, I’d check into those.  All great for cooking, stews, snacking…

Let me show you my seeds. These are heirloom (the best kind to get) that we got from Amazon. We got some radish seeds as well. (hope to get to those soon…) Love that pretty packaging. Anyway, these are called “rainbows” and apparently they will grow in different colors. We shall take that to the test…

What fun to harvest a carrot and not know until it comes out of the ground,  what color it is, right? I don’t think any of them will be pink, however, that picture may not be 100% accurate.

carrot seeds

Carrot seeds are very tiny, you may need something like a pair of tweezers to pick them up, as I will be doing.

I’m also starting the seeds outdoors. Carrots are one of those vegetables that does not transplant well, in which case I wouldn’t recommend it for indoor growing. I planted them in the middle of this bed, using a stick to poke holes about 3″ apart which is minimum. Soil in beds used for carrot plants should be deep. At least a foot. If tilled, even better. We used a rototiller on this bed as well as the others. Soil for carrots needs to be loamy and airy to do well. As a root crop, this is critical.

You can see we have tomato plants nearby, this is one crop that does well with carrots because they create a “succession crop” Tomatoes yield the heaviest during summertime, although fall here is fairly mild and there is still fruits from time to time. But later in the year, the carrots will flourish as they tend to do well in cool climates.

Plant carrot seeds 3″ apart and about an inch deep, notice the grid layout I’ve got here, although it looks crude, I think you get the idea.

how far apart to plant carrot seeds

Another option is to dig a narrow trench for each row of seeds. It should be shallow and not much deeper than an inch. You can then proceed to sprinkle the seeds lightly throughout this trench, then cover back up with soil, and hydrate to water them in. For the foreseable few weeks it is important to keep the soil moist. One trick I learned is from Kevin of Epic Gardening. You should look at their channel sometime if you get a chance. You’ll learn a lot!

Place a 2 by 4 lumber plank on the seeded row and leave for about 10 days.This will keep that row moisturized for the time it usually takes to start to germinate. If the surrounding soil of that row dries out too soon it will be likely to stall out, and you may be more likely to compensate by overwatering accidentally which could wash away the seeds, so use one plank per row, of course, do keep an eye on them. 

carrot tops sprouting

Carrots take about 60 days to reach maturity. Also do not use nitrogen heavy fertilizer as it may provoke side roots in the resulting carrots. It is a good idea to thin them out as they start to grow. There should be at least 1-2″ of space between each carrot give or take and since you can’t see them, obviously you may have to allow for a margin or error. If you prune out the stranglers (they may turn out to be ‘stubby “pseudo-carrots”) but your resulting yield will be much better.

As they continue to develop, You will recognize them by their bushy tops. Hmm wonder why people call a “carrot top” to someone with red-orange hair, but in actuality a carrot top is really green? Weird.

Regardless of how each fruit turns out, the carrots should be harvested when you see bushy tops. If they start showing flowers instead, it is a sign that it’s “bolted”, or gone to seed. Your resulting carrot will probably not have any taste. 

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