Carrot Essentials

By National Gardening Association Editors


  • Choose a variety that matches your soil conditions.
  • Stagger your carrot seeding starting 3 to 4 weeks before the average last spring frost date.
  • Plant additional areas at 3-week intervals as the soil temperatures rise.


  • Mix 1 pound of 5-10-10 or its equivalent into every 50 square feet of garden area.
  • Work the carrot seedbed well with a tiller or hoe to break up any soil clumps. Remove all rocks and stones.
  • Sprinkle a thin layer of wood ashes over the seedbed to add potassium to the soil for sweeter carrots. Work the ashes into the top 4 inches of the bed. Then rake the beds smooth.
  • Planting

    • Make furrows 1/4 inch deep, spaced 4 inches apart.
    • Put a 1/4 inch layer of sifted compost or peat moss in the bottom of each furrow and sow the seeds, about 3 per inch, on top. Cover with a 1/2 inch layer of the same material.
    • Lightly mulch the seedbed to retain moisture and prevent soil crusting.


    • Thin carrots to stand 3 inches apart between plants.
    • Weed carefully and cultivate lightly near the plants.
    • Add mulch about 6 weeks after sowing to prevent exposing the roots to the sun, which gives them a bitter taste. When the carrot tops are about 6 inches tall, side-dress with a sprinkling of a natural fertilizer such as dried cow manure. If the bed is mulched heavily, use a liquid fertilizer such as fish emulsion, seaweed, or other general-purpose plant food.
    • Carrots are rarely bothered by pests. See our article Summer's Bad Guys by Charlie Nardozzi for controls of common carrot pests such as wireworms.


    • Carrots are generally ready for harvest in 2 to 3 months, when they are about 1/2 inch in diameter. Leave them in the ground until you need them.
    • Drench the bed with water for easy harvesting.
    • Pull the carrots by grabbing the greens at their crowns and gently tugging with a twisting motion.
    • Harvest carrots for the root cellar after the first hard frosts but before the ground freezes.

    Other articles in this series:
    1. History of Root Crops
    2. All About Horseradish
    3. Beet Varieties
    4. Carrot Varieties
    5. Radish Varieties
    6. Celeriac - Lazy Man's Celery
    7. Turnip and Rutabaga Varieties
    8. Parsnip Varieties
    9. All About Salsify
    10. Selecting Root Crop Seeds
    11. Planning Your Root Crop Garden
    12. How Root Crops Grow
    13. Carrot Essentials ← you're on this article right now
    14. Parsnip Essentials
    15. Radish Essentials
    16. Turnip Essentials

    This article is a part of our Vegetable Gardening Guide for Other Root Crops / Getting Started.

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