Container gardening does not always have to cater to herbs, spices and blooms. Like growing your own potato, beets, turnips and radishes, carrot being a root crop is quite enjoyable and easy to raise out of containers in your patio, balcony, terrace, rooftop garden, or any space with ample sunshine. Growing carrots in containers, however, must be done with care to ensure having a healthy harvest. To get you started, here’s a how-to guide on carrot container gardening for the first time
How To Grow Carrots in a container?
1. First things first— choose the right carrot variety. There are quite a number of carrot varieties enough to make your head spin– chantenay, danvers, imperator, nantes, planet and baby carrot being the most popular ones. When growing in containers, expert gardeners highly recommend the Nantes variety or the Chantenay. Not only are they shorter and wider in girth, these varieties also produce sturdy roots and taste as fantastic as the others. You can start with this Scarlet Nantes Carrot Seeds pack which produce bright orange sweet, crisp and tender and abundant produce.
Let’s take a little closer look at each variety.
Chatenay: These carrots with light orange flesh and red-orange core, grows up to 5 inches. They grow wide at the top and narrows down to cone-shape and mature in 65 -75 days.
Danvers: This variety is one of the easiest and least fussy carrots to grow. It is more intense in taste, grows up to 6 – 7 inches long, slender, but wider at the top than the other types. They take about 65 to 85 days to mature.
Imperator: Imperator carrots are also known as “baby carrots”. They are the sweetest to taste, grows up to 8 – 12 inches long and slender. To grow, you’ll need a container that is more than 12 inches deep. These carrots should be harvested before they are completely mature. If they mature completely, they become woody and less flavorful.
Nantes: These are sweet and crispy, grow up to 6 – 7 inches long, more cylindrical than tapered. These should be planted in spring so that they can be harvested from late summer through fall.
2.Next is finding the right container. To a prolific DIY enthusiast, any item– empty cans, milk carton, plastic box, etc. — that can house soil and seeds will make do when growing carrots in containers. The idea is too pick a container with enough depth, like say 1.5ft, to house the long roots of carrots. There are foldable and reusable polyethylene patio planters for you to use over and over again. Then, there’s the ever-dependable grow bags like these 10 gallon grow bags . They can easily blend to a patio or yard, or placed inside a planter for safekeeping. Transferring them from one place to another is also made easy with its handles. An easily accessible flap calso helps to monitor seeds and growth roots.
3.Pick the right potting mix. Growing carrots from seeds for the first time can be a tad challenging when done with just soil coming from your backyard. You need to not just ensure that soil is healthy, microorganisms not seen by the naked eye must also be carefully taken cared of. Some make do with loosened soil with compost. To ensure success in your first carrot container gardening, experts strongly suggest using a specialty potting mix like the Miracle-Gro Seed Starting Potting Mix. These potting mixes are formulated with the right nutrien to ensure fast root development for vigorous plant growth and harvest.
If you want, you can make your own potting mix by adding 1 part soil, 1 part compost, and 1 part perlite. If you want your potting mix to be soilless, add 1 part peat moss or coco peat, 1 part compost, and 1 part perlite, vermiculite or sand. To make it more effective, add time-based fertilizer that is low in nitrogen at the time of mixing the soil.
4. With the right seeds, soil and container in place, now is the right time to sow your seeds. Start by digging 3-inch holes at around 3-inch distance from each other. Place 3 carrot seeds in each hole and fill it with potting mix. If you have compost, the better. Water it just right to give seeds enough moisture that will help optimize growth.
5. Watering: If you want to grow carrots in a container , one essential thing to learn is that you have to maintain adequate water level constantly as container requires more watering than the vegetables grown in soil. Ensure that it is watered regularly and evenly to keep the soil slightly moist. Always check the soil moisture level with your hand to see if it is dry before watering. Never allow the soil to dry out completely. However, you should refrain from overwatering the pots. When the time comes that your carrot roots are about to mature, reduce the frequency of watering as too much moisture at the maturing stage will make the carrots grow cracks.
Also, mulch can help retain moisture when you grow carrots in containers and help to keep the weeds down so that the roots are not disturbed to pull out the weeds.
6. Temperature: Carrot seeds germinate at a temperature between 42 – 90 F but the optimum seed germination temperature is between 55 – 75 F . Carrots tastes best when the temperature ranges around 60 – 72 F during their growing period.
It usually takes one to three weeks for carrot seeds to germinate which can be, a little more slower in low temperatures.
Since you are growing carrots in a container, try to adjust the temperature by moving the containers to shade if the weather is warm and in more sun if the weather is cold.
7. Fertilizer: Like all root crops, carrots do not like soil that is high in nitrogen. So, to encourage root growth, use fertilizers that are low in nitrogen but high in phosphorous and potassium.
For example, a fertilizer which has NPK 5-10-10 (mixing ratio of zero nitrogen, ten phosphorus, and ten potassium), It’s also a good idea to add time-based fertilizer or aged manure to the potting soil in the beginning. When the carrots are in midseason, scrape off some topsoil and add some compost or aged manure for better growth.
If you’ve not added anything to the soil, you can feed the carrots with “compost tea” which is organic, liquid manure. You can get this easy to use “compost tea” brew kit like this one to make your own “Compost Tea.”
8. Pests and Diseases: Weeds, pests, and other diseases harm the growth of carrots on the ground much more than when grown in containers. So you don’t need to worry about them much. But Aphids and flea beetles can disturb the foliage growth even in container-grown carrots, so these should be controlled.
Aphids like to feed on carrot foliage, but they are more disturbing because they can transmit diseases such as a motley dwarf virus.
In general, aphids cause damage to plants by sucking the plant sap, which makes the heavily infested leaves to curl and stunt. They excreting honeydew, which causes shiny green leaves to turn black as a sooty-mold fungus starts growing on the leaves.
During the earlier part of the year, aphids have many natural enemies like lady beetles and their larvae, which frequently bring them under control lady beetles.
Green peach aphids get reduced during winter by a parasitic fungus. So usually you don’t need to put any artificial chemical for aphids. It can be controlled effectively by washing away the aphids with a strong stream of water.
However, you need to destroy aphid infested crops immediately after harvest to prevent aphid dispersal.
Flea Beetles are small and shiny insects, with large rear legs. They lay eggs at the base of plant stems during early summer after they complete a feeding period. The larvae of flea beetles start to feed at the roots and will destroy your carrots if not taken care.
The real danger of flea beetle is that they can spread bacterial diseases, such as wilt and blight, from plant to plant. Therefore, they must be controlled at once.
The best way to control is to use a homemade spray made of 2 cups rubbing alcohol, 5 cups water, and 1 tablespoon liquid soap. Spray this mixture first on a leaf of the plant, let it sit overnight, then spray the rest of the plant if you don’t notice any adverse effects.
Spray the mixture on the foliage of plants that are susceptible to these pests.
9. Harvesting : Depending on the type of carrot you have planted in your container, and the climatic and growing conditions the harvesting time may vary. Most of the carrot varieties are usually ready for harvest in 60 – 75 days, whereas, you can harvest baby carrots much earlier. Before picking, always check whether your carrots have reached the desired size by uprooting a couple of plants first.
Can You grow carrots without seeds?
Here are fun projects to try with Kids.
Yes, you can grow carrots plants (that is the tops) from carrots. However, the orange, taproot once removed from the plant, can’t regrow. Make sure you explain this to your kids before you involve them in this gardening project.
There are three different ways that you can use to grow carrot tops from carrots.
The first method of using water
You can grow carrots in water by cutting the top from a grocery store-bought carrot. Ensure that it has about one inch of the root. Stick a toothpick into either side of the carrot stump so that it can be balanced on top of a small glass. Fill the glass with water up to a level that barely touching the bottom edge of the stump.
Put the glass in a light, but away from direct sunlight. Keep adding water so that the water level touches the edge. Watch the roots sprout. Yes, you’re growing carrots from carrots in a glass!
The second Method using a ceramic plate
The next method to grow carrot tops from carrots involves a ceramic pie plate and marbles. First, fill the plate with a single layer of marbles and set the one-inch stubs of the veggie right on top.
You will of course still need water, but the water level will be determined by the tops of the marbles. Six to seven stumps can be easily sprouted this way. You can also plant them in a single pit for a great display.
Third method using Newspaper
You will need a plate and several layers of newspaper for sprouting carrot tops using this method.
Lay the newspaper at the bottom of the plate and soak them well. Soak but ensure there is no standing water on the plate. Put the pieces of carrot tops on the papers, and in a few days, you’ll see the roots spread.
Ensure that the paper is kept wet. Once the new plants have rooted well, these can be planted in soil or container. The new plants is likely to show growth pretty quickly delighting your little gardeners.
See, learning how to grow carrots in containers is easy as a breeze! While March is the best time of the year to start growing one, carrots are known to be frost-resistant. Hence, starting your own carrot container gardening project can be done anytime, year-round. With the right elements in place, you can finally enjoy fresh, nutritious carrot dishes from scratch.