Carrots are in the same family as celery, parsley, dill, cilantro, and fennel, and these plants can rotate as their own family in the garden. In Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) (affiliate link) I explain crop rotation for the home garden. Carrots are a fabulous root crop for the garden and will help attract pollinators to the garden!
Carrots are a biennial root crop, related to Queen Anne’s Lace. The green foliage is highly cut and very attractive, while the flowers are gorgeous. Carrots grow well in the soil that isn’t over-fertilized because they are root crops. Excess nitrogen makes the foliage grow lush, but doesn’t do much for the part you WANT to grow!
The trickiest thing about planting carrots is that they don’t do well being transplanted, so you need to plant the seeds straight in the garden. The seeds can be easily washed away and they grow best in moist soil, so try misting the soil or using a soaker hose to water the space where you’ve planted the carrots until they germinate. It can take a week or even longer before the seeds sprout so use patience!
One of the most important things to remember about carrots is that when you are growing them from seed, you don’t cull seedlings by pulling the extra plants. Pulling the seedlings will hurt the other seedlings growing nearby. Clip the seedlings off at the ground level instead so you don’t mess up the tender roots of the neighboring plants.
Carrots prefer soil that is loose and easily manipulated. They prefer cooler weather like most of the other plants in the family. Plant in early spring or in the fall and enjoy the best harvest!
You’ll find carrots ready for harvest anywhere from 9-18 weeks or longer. Plan to start your carrot seeds directly where you want them to grow 2-3 months before the first frost, or as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring.
Carrots should be watered often and deeply. The water needs to reach the large root at the tip of the carrot. You should also keep a close watch on weeding to prevent competition, over-crowding, etc. In my experience, it can take longer than the packet says to grow a carrot.
Oklahoma is not super fabulous for carrots – our springs move quickly to brutal summers that are too hot for carrots. They would do much better in a fall garden if kept moist enough to germinate well. Both Burpee and Cook’s Garden have delicious varieties of carrots to try – which one will you try first?
Looking for ways to use carrots? Here are 60 Carrot Recipes You Have to Try!