Learn How To Grow Carrots In The Garden

How To Grow Carrots – Growing Carrots In The Garden

If you are wondering how to grow carrots (Daucus carota), you should know they grow best in cool temperatures like those that occur in early spring and late fall. The night temperature should be dropping to about 55 F. (13 C.) and the daytime temperatures should be averaging 75 F. (24 C.) for optimum growth. Carrots grow in small gardens and even flower beds, and can accept a little bit of shade as well.

How to Grow Carrots

When you grow carrots, soil surfaces should be cleared of trash, rocks and large pieces of bark. Finer pieces of plant material can be mixed down into the soil for enrichment.

Start out with soil that will help your carrots grow healthy. When you grow carrots, soil should be a sandy, well-drained loam. Heavy soils cause the carrots to mature slowly and the roots will end up unattractive and rough. Remember that when you grow carrots, rocky soil leads to poor quality roots.

Till or dig up the area where carrots will be planted. Make sure the soil is tilled up to soften and aerate the ground to make it easier to grow carrots long and straight. Fertilize the soil with one cup of 10-20-10 for every 10 feet of row you plant. You can use a rake to mix the soil and fertilizer.

Planting Carrots

Plant your carrots in rows that are 1 to 2 feet (30-60 cm.) apart. Seeds should be planted about a ½ inch deep and 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm.) apart.

When growing carrots in the garden, you’ll wait for your carrot plants to appear. When the plants are 4 inches (10 cm.) high, thin the plants to 2 inches (5 cm.) apart. You may find that some of the carrots are actually large enough to eat.

When growing carrots in the garden, make sure to plant, per person, five to ten feet of row to have enough carrots for table use. You will get about one pound of carrots in a one foot row.

You want to keep your carrots free of weeds. This is especially important when they are small. The weeds will take nutrients away from the carrots and will cause poor carrot development.

How Do You Harvest Carrots?

Carrots grow continuously after you plant them. They also don’t take too long to mature. You can start the first crop in mid spring after threat of frost has passed and continue to plant new seeds every two weeks for continuous harvest through the fall.

Harvesting of the carrots can begin when they are finger size. However, you can allow them to stay in the soil until winter if you mulch the garden well.

To check the size of your carrots, gently remove some dirt from the top of the root and check the size of the root. To harvest, gently lift the carrot from the soil.


Carrot fly

Protect your carrots, parsnips and celery crops from damage by carrot fly larvae.

Creamy-yellow larvae hatch from the white eggs of the carrot fly, Psila rosae, and tunnel into the roots of carrots and other related plants, such as parsnips and celery. The damage creates brown scarring on the exterior of the taproots. Damaged roots are then susceptible to secondary rots. Sometimes the foliage turns yellow and plants might even die.


Tunnelling maggots feast on the carrot flesh, causing the outsides to be marked with brown rings. This is often followed by rotting.

Find it on

carrots, celery, parsley, parsnips


Sow carrots after late-spring to avoid the first generation of carrot fly larvae. Harvest the roots by late-August, before the second generation of larvae emerges.

Carrot fly can detect the scent of carrots from a mile away; sow the seed thinly, as the process of thinning the seedlings releases the carrot’s scent. Plant strong-smelling crops, such as garlic, onions, shallots and leeks adjacent to the carrots.

Follow a strict crop rotation plan, avoiding growing carrots on the same site in consecutive years, and place horticultural fleece over the seedlings, which will provide a physical barrier against the pest.

Some carrot varieties – ‘Resistafly’, ‘Sytan’ and ‘Fly Away’ – are less prone to attack.


Garden Suppliers & Covid 19

A note first about all those out there in the garden industry. Garden Centres have been ordered to close and both they and the nurseries that supply them are suffering as a result. Many are small, family run businesses and are having to think on the hoof and learn new tricks to save their businesses.

So if you need supplies then do call your local centre. Some are taking phone orders, many are delivering.

Some are even doing drive throughs with booked pick up times. So if you need stuff you can’t get online like compost then try your local centre. This blog covers growing from seed but there will also be veg plug plants out there in garden centres that will be wasted if not sold. These will work just as well.

On to those 5 veg.

1) Spring Onions

Spring Onions can be used in salads, sandwiches or stir fries so they are a useful crop to grow. They don’t have massively long roots so can be grown in a shallow or medium planter like the Oxford Planter . You can double up with a different crop. For example, if you read last weeks blog (link above) then your spring onions could share a planter with your Cut and Come Again Leaves.

Whatever pot you choose, just fill with compost to within about 1″ (3 cm) of the top. Then lightly scatter the seed over the surface and cover with 0.5″ (1.5cm) of compost. Water gently to keep the soil moist and you’ll soon see the plants emerge. If plants look crowded then thin out a little and use the thininngs in salads or sandwiches.

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2) Beetroot

Beetroot is grown for the roots although you can eat the leaves — use them where you would use spinach.

You need a 5 Litre pot for beetroot. Take care when buying your seeds, Choose a baby beet variety — smaller and bolt resistant for growing in a pot. Larger varieties may become restricted by the pot and become woody as a result. Beetroot seeds are actually clusters of 4 or 5 individual seeds so plant a single seed in your pot. You will get a number plants.

Sowing 2 weeks apart will give you a steady harvest of tender, golf ball size beet throughout the summer. For full instructions on how to grow it see this blog Grow at Home: Beetroot

3) Swiss chard

Swiss chard is from the same plant family as beetroot. But it is grown for the leaves. And what leaves they are! With stems in jewel like colours these are sure to wow you when they start to grow.

Chard is a very productive crop as it will produce new leaves when cut so one or two plants will provide nutritious leaves for a full season. As it doesn’t have deep roots this is another one for a shallow planter or an Instant Raised Bed

Make a shallow drill in your planter around 0.5″ (1.5cm) deep. Sow seeds into it and cover lightly with soil. Water well. As seedlings start to emerge thin and use thinings in salads. You should be able to start eating in around 10 weeks.

4) Tomatoes

The easiest type of tomato for a pot is a bush variety as these are small compact plants that need less support. These willl grow happily in a Tomato Patio Planter. If you prefer to grow climbing varieties then these will need more support. A Tomato (Climbing) Patio Planter or Tomato Crop Booster Frame would both be ideal.

Whichever sort you choose, tomatoes are easy to grow and well suited to pots providing they are fed. So make sure you order tomato food from your garden centre when you order your planters, compost and seeds.

For full details of how to grow tomatoes see this recent blog Grow at Home: Tomatoes

5) Baby Carrots.

Your pot needs to be quite deep for carrots. The best varieties for pots are round, white or French carrots. The French wil be the sweetest, the round the ‘carrotiest’ tasting and the white will actually grow about 5″ (12cm). A Deep Oxford planter would work well or a Raised Bed if you have the space.

Carrots grown in the ground are often wonky as they have to negotiate stones and other obstacles in the soil. The advantage of growing in pots is that you should get lovely straight carrots.

For full instructions on growing carrots Grow at Home: Carrots

I hope that this has inspired you to get growing. Please comment if there are any crops you want more info on and follow us on Socail Media for further info. Thanks for reading!

Veg in a Pot or Planter

Its easy to gorw veg in a pot or planter but some veg are more suitable than others. If you are new to gardening then the list below should contain the basics. It will get you started but the key to growing veg is that if you don’t like it then don’t grow it! You will be eating everything from your garden and we don’t want that to be torture. So feel free to skip any of these suggestions that you don’t like.

Home Schooling

Growing veg is a perfect opportunity to enrich your Home Schooling Schedule.

When some children answer the question «where do chips come from» with the answer «Sainsbury’s» the time is right to act. Growing your own veg show them what happens when Sainsbury’s don’t deliver any more.

so the gardening ticks the science box but you can also

  • write out growing instructions or a poem about your plant (English)
  • draw pictures of the plants you are growing (Art)
  • Estimate and measure the growing plant (Maths)

Soil v Compost

If your soil is good and full of nutrients then you could fill your planters with this. However, a safer bet is to use good multipurpose compost.

Many Garden Centres are still delivering even though they have been forced to close at the moment by Lockdown. (How strange it will be to re-read this blog in a few years time!) Anyway, most Garden Centres are taking orders over the phone and delivering compost, slow release fertiliser and seeds.

So — the first 5 veggies ( 5 more to come next week!)

1) Cut and come again leaves

These do exactly what the name suggests. Rather than waiting for a whole head of lettuce to grow these leaves can be harvested and eaten as soon as they get to the size you want. Rocket is one of the most common of these but the seeds are often sold as «Salad Leaves» . They may include plants such as Japanese Greens, Arugula, Rucola, Oriental Mustard, Pak Choy, Borecole. They grow fast so you wil lbe eating them in around 3 weeks.

These will grow in whatever pot you have. From a 6″ Plant pot on your window cill to a Shallow Oxford Planter . The plants don’t have deep roots so no need to waste compost filling a deep planter.

Once you have chosen your planter fill it with compost and sow seeds according to the packet instuction. You may want to sow them every week to ten days to keep a regular supply up. You can get three or more harvests from each sowing as they will regrow once cut.

2) Lettuce

Lettuce does not need much room so great for container growing. Perfect for a window cill.

Like cut and come again, lettuce don’t have deep roots so a shallow planter — about 6″ (15cm) — will work well. Make sure it has good drainage.

Sow your lettuce seeds onto the surface of your compost and cover with a fine layer of compost as the seeds need light to germinate. If you want to grow a whole head of lettuce then sow and thin to the spacings recommended on the packet. If you want to eat as cut and come again then you can simply scatter over the surface.

3) Radishes

These are a love them or hate them thing. But I will say that freshly picked homegrown radishes are much tastier and crunchier than shop bought ones.

They can be planted from January to September so its hardly ever the wrong time to plant radishes. They take approx 4 weeks for sowing seed to harvest so its a great one for anyone impatient.

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Again your contianer needs to be around 4″ to 6″ (10cm to 15cm) deep and have good drainage. As a guide a planter with a diameter of 16″ will be Ok for around 5 radishes. Plant them around 1″ ro 2″ (2 to 4cm) apart according to the packet instructions.

4) Peas & Beans

Peas and beans work very well in pots and planters. There are two types of beans — climbers like Runner Beans and smaller bush varieties like Dwarf French Beans. If you are growing a climber then you will need a pot large enough to take a plant support such as a wigwam made from bamboos canes.

The planter you use has to be bigger than for the salad leaves. If you are really short of space then a 5L Vigoroot pot with a Water Saucer will allow you to grow a runner bean in a 5L pot. If you have a little more space then the Pea and Bean Planter holds 6 bean plants in the space of little bigger than a tea tray. It has pockets to slot your canes into so makes it easy to support them. This planter allows those with just a balcony or very little outside space to enjoy a summer’s worth of home grown beans.

If you want to Dwarf Beans then a Medium Oxford planter will work

For full instructions on how to grow beans check out this blog: Grow at home: Green Beans

Whichever you grow, peas and beans will stay productive longer if harvested vigourously, the more you pick the more you get!

5) Potatoes

You will be surprised how easy these are to grow and how gorgeous the flowers are! These need a big pot or planter — around 40L . Potato planters are inexpensive and can be used year after year. However, if you can’t get hold of any, potatoes can be grown in an old compost sack provided you ensure that they have enough drainage.

The good news is that growing potatoes in a planter is far less back breaking than growing in the ground. There is no digging to prepare the bed — simply fill the Potato Planter with compost. And when you come to harvesting just tip it over and collect your potatoes.

For full instructions on growing potatoes check out this blog Grow at Home: Potatoes

That’s all for this week but we will be showing you 5 more easy to grow veg next week. If you do decide to grow some veg then we would love to see your progress os please share with us on Soical Media.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if the result of this unwelcome super virus was that every garden, allotment and balcony became home to a host of sunflowers. The bees and other insects would be overjoyed. The birds would have a feast to see them through winter. And parents would have a source of inspiration for homeschooling sorted — more of that later.

If you don’t have a garden, don’t worry. Sunflowers can be grown in pots if you have a nice bright and sunny space to put them in.

What sort of Sunflowers to Grow

Sunflowers can be single stem or branching. It will say on the packet which sort they are so choose carefully depending on what you want to achieve.


These only grow one flower from one seed — so probably the sort you want if you are going for «Tallest Sunflower» Because they only have one flower you will need to plant seeds every 7 to 10 days to keep flowers in your garden all summer.

Branching sunflowers

These produce many flowers over the season. And these generally have the less traditional colours like oranges and chocolate tones.

Win, win, win!

Whatever type you choose post your progress on Social Media with the tag #SunflowerChallenge — there is a prize for the tallest sunflower and the ones the judge liked the most. The competitoin is the brain child of Andrew Bentley @GardeningGent who kindly allowed us to join in and offer a prize. So take a picture of you with your flower and you can still take part even if yours isn’t giving Jack and his Beanstalk a run for their money.

How to grow Sunflowers

Whichever sort you choose, you can sow them either in pots or straight into the ground where they are going to flower.

Sowing in the Ground

If you are sowing into the ground then make sure the area is weed free.

Once you have pulled up all of the weeds ra ke the soil and make some drills (shallow trenches) 1/2″ (12mm) deep.

Carefully place 2 seeds an inch or so apart into the drill every 17″ (45cm) or so. Cover the seeds with soil. Water gently.

Keep watering daily if there isn’t rain and your seeds should take 7 to 10 days to appear. Some seeds will grow stronger than others. So take out the weaker of the two seedlings and either discard or plant elsewhere.

Growing in a pot

The pots you choose can be anywhere between 12″ like the Vigoroot 20L pot to 14″ like the Potato/ tomato Planter or for even better root growth try the Vigoroot Potaot/ Tomato Planter . Make sure whatever you use has good drainage holes or the seeds will rot.

Fill your pot with compost. Plant 2 seeds near the middle of the pot, pushing them into the soil about 1″ (2.5 cm). Add a thin layer of compost over the seed and water gently.

Continue to water daily and your seeds should appear in 7 to 10 days. Once they do, take out the weakest one and either discard or transplant elsewhere.

For Both Pot and Ground grown

Sunflowers need to be watered well or they will become spindly. So water every day to ensure that your sunflower never gets dry.

Slugs and snails adore young sunflower plants so they need protection. For pot grown ones a line of copper tape round the pot may help to deter invaders. A beer trap such as the Slug Buster is ideal for both. You could also use a Victorian Bell cloche to protect the seedlings. If you can’t get hold of those then cutting the top off a plastic bottle and placing it over your seedlings will work too.

As your sunflower begins to grow you will need to support the stem. Place a bamboo cane next to the stem and secutre it with Soft tie . This will ensure that the stem is not damaged as it blows about.

Sunflowers don’t necessarily need feeding to grow but they will take everything there is from your soil so it may be worth feeding them. Its maybe more important for those in pots. If you descide to feed then before they flower, use a high-nitrogen liquid plant food, then move to one with more phosphorus when they begin to flower.

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Watch your monster sunflower grow and grow and grow. If you are lucky it will grow biggger than the biggest ever sunflower. That was recorded at 30 feet (9.17m.) That’s about twice the height of a giraffe and taller than the length of a London bus!

Home Schooling Ideas

I said I woud come back to this so for those of you home schooling at the moment these are the boxes you can tick with a simple sunflower.


Gardening is science so that box is ticked right away. For oolder children read about photosynthasis and how this works, measure the pH of the soil (if you happen to have a kit at home.) For younger childre name the parts of the plant — stem, petals etc.


Estimate the height of the flower then measure each week, if you are growing more than one make little tags and use them to order the flowers from tallest to smallest


Write instructions for someone to grow their own, write a story or poem about a sunflower,

Draw your sunflower, paint pictures of them (somone once got very famous doing that!) Make a sunflower out of the junk in your recycling box. Even knit a sunflower if you know how.

Top Tip: Seeds can be bought online or many Garden Centres are still delivering. Give your local one a call to see how they are doing things.


Companion Planting: Carrots and Onions

I love to experiment in the veggie garden and am constantly trying out new techniques. This year I will go to great lengths to avoid putting up a floating row cover to protect my carrots from the carrot fly (Update at the bottom).

I have never had much luck growing carrots. One year the carrot fly got into the carrots, another year it was the rabbits. Last year I didn’t even bother trying to grow them. But this year I will give it another go. And this time I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I hope will keep the pests (pets?) away.

The dreaded carrot fly

I read somewhere online that onions can be used to deter the carrot fly. If you are not familiar with this little bugger, it is a fly that flies very close to the ground. It is very much attracted to the smell of carrots (hence its name). Once it finds a carrot it will lay eggs in the soil right next to it. The larvae will pop out of the eggs and be super hungry. They will turn their attention to the nearby carrot and start munching away. They will burrow little tunnels all over the carrot, eating their way through what you think will be your future snack. The carrot top will look fine, so you will have no idea that there is a problem until harvest time.

Floating row covers

Most intelligent gardeners throw floating row covers (or fleece) on top of their carrots right after sowing them to prevent the carrot fly to lay its eggs. I am not one of those gardeners. I like to try things out for myself… and then later in the season come to the realization that I should probably have done it the way millions of gardeners have done for decades.

The thing is that I really don’t like the look of netting in my garden. It looks like someone trapped the carrots and stuffed them in a cage. I like my carrots the same way I like my chicken and eggs: cage-free. Haha. Seriously, I just don’t care for the look of the netting and am willing to go to great lengths to avoid putting it up in my garden.

Companion planting

So this year I will try something new: companion planting my carrots and onions. From what I have heard, the carrot fly detests the smell of onion. So this year I have spaced out my rows of carrots and placed a row of onion sets in between. And just as an extra precaution I have seeded spring onions in the entire perimeter of the raised bed.

New experiment: Companion planting onion and carrot to deter the dreaded carrot fly.

To thin out or not to thin out?

Most gardeners that grow carrots will seed them generously and then thin the seedlings out later on. Thinning them out spreads the scent of carrots in the air and will attract all the carrot flies in the neighbourhood. So what I have done this year is to take a few more minutes sowing my carrot seeds and doing it more thinly, so I do not need to thin the seedlings out later on. I hope that this extra step will help in my quest to keep the little buggers away.

Varieties of onions and carrots

This year I will be growing yellow onions (apparently, they store really well), red onions and shallots. The carrot varieties are Nantes and an heirloom mix called Tri Circus. In the perimeter, I am growing spring onion.

Trial & Error

It will be interesting to see how this experiment turns out. When it comes time to dig up my carrots I may be in for a nasty surprise and wish I had put that net up after all. Well, you never know until you try. And that is one of my favourite things about gardening. It’s all about trial and error. You learn from your failures and successes… and hopefully, you have lots of fun doing what you love in the process. Wish me luck!

July update

In late July I couldn’t wait any longer, I just had to pull up a few carrots. I was looking forward to see if growing onions and carrots side by side had helped keep the carrot fly away. And so far, the results are great! The few carrots I pulled up were without any holes. So, I guess it is true, companion planting carrots and onions does work to deter carrot fly.

The fact that I didn’t seed the carrots very closely and then didn’t have to thin them out may also have helped in preventing visits from the carrot fly. Nevertheless, carrots and onions are now ‘best friends forever’ and will be planted side by side from now on, and carrot seeds sown 1/2 inch apart in the spring.

BFF: Carrots and onions will be hanging out together in my garden from now on to deter carrot flies. Depicted: TriCircus Carrots.

Share your carrot fly prevention stories

How do you deal with carrot fly? Do you use row covers or do you have some secret up your sleeve about how to keep them at bay? If so, please share in the comments below.


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