Find an area in your garden, patio, porch that will receive at least six or more hours of full sunlight. Even if it is cloudy, it will receive the UV light the carrots will need to grow sufficiently.
Research which variety of carrots that you would like to grow. It is best to stick to radish-shaped, ball, mini or Chanteray when growing in containers as their taproot is not as long as other varieties. Some preferred varieties include: ‘Romeo’, ‘Paris Market’, ‘Babette’ or ‘Hercules’. However, there are tons of different varieties to pick from and it is always fun to look through seed catalogs in the winter months to plan for spring planting. There are several seed companies that send catalog, try these for starters: Botanical Interests, Renee’s Seeds, Annie’s Annuals, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. There are many, many more just look for free seed catalogs online.
Get all that is needed to start planting – containers, potting soil, gloves, trowel, seeds, etc. When planting carrot seeds it is ideal to plant in rows or broadcast them across a larger area (more like a grouping than row). When shopping for your containers, try finding those that are wider and shorter. Since most of the varieties will not reach more than five inches long, a container that is twice that would work fine. You want to have as much surface area as possible. When buying potting soil, every gardener has their own preference, but it is best to buy the soil that is mixed for container use. I prefer to not have any additives such as fertilizer when going vegetables because growing organically is preferred and controlling the amount of application is important.
Carrot are a cool season crop and are generally planted in the spring when soil temperatures have reached about 50 degrees F. Buying a soil thermometer is the best way to ensure the correct temperature and can easily be purchased at your local garden center. Once the soil temp has reach 50 and weeks away from your last frost date, it is time to plant your carrots seeds. Take your containers and fill them with potting soil. Fill the containers to about 3 inches from the top with soil. Take your carrot seeds and sprinkle them all over the top of the soil making sure to cover each square inch of the container. Then take a handful of soil and likely sprinkle the soil over the seeds. Once completed, use a watering can on a light setting to water in the seeds. Well the seeds are germinating it is important to water them every 1 to 3 days depending on the weather outdoors – watering less if rainy and more if hot. The soil should be kept moist at all times but not soggy. If planting more than one container with carrots, repeat the same process.
Once the carrots have emerged and sprouted, it is time to thin. Typically, most carrots need about 1 to 2 inches of spacing in between, but it is best to keep your seed packet to determine what is best for that variety. Thinning is important so that each carrot can receive adequate nutrients and moisture; not competing with others in the container. This will ensure that your carrots are full of flavor and look delicious when harvested. If thinning is not for you, it can always be bypassed by purchasing seed tape or pelleted seed that is already spaced eliminating this step. Those carrots that are thinned can be used in cooking applications such as roasting or a great topper for a fresh salad.
Every three weeks, feed your carrots with an organic foliar liquid fertilizer. This will help your carrots to receive the proper nutrition that they need. In some areas, carrot rust fly can be a problem. To provide damage, either buy a row cover or construct a small, plastic covering to prevent the fly from laying eggs. This must be done when the seeds are planted to avoid any issues.
After about 2-1/2 to 3 months, your carrots should be ready to harvest. Again keeping your seed packet is a great way to know when to harvest. Adding a reminder to your online calendar or phone is wonderful. To know if your veggies are ready, pull a couple ‘test’ carrots to see if they are the right size and shape. Then all there is to do is enjoy!