Growing Carrots in a Container{7}

sliced carrots

Freshly-pulled carrots: from backyard barrel to skillet in no time.

I usually stay away from gimmicky gardening tips, the ones fraught with the requisite hoop-jumping to pick a mere peapod or pull a pound of potatoes. The truth is (at least from my experience) that most vegetables benefit from being grown in the ground as opposed to a container. As for my apartment dwelling pals, stick with containers and keep up the good fight. There’s nothing like plucking a sun-ripe tomato from a fourth-story balcony.  Gardening triumph in the city!

easy as growing carrots in a barrel

Overwintering carrot tops die back but the roots are alive and well and ready to harvest.

Now back in the country, I rely on good ol’ Mother Earth to provide my planting canvas, except when it comes to growing carrots. I prefer to scatter seeds chockablock in a large barrel or plastic pot filled with potting soil. Carrots are quite happy in this uptown home.

tip top carrots

Tip-top carrots

Why grow carrots in a bucket or barrel?

  • Good soil tilth and drainage
  • Easy to start seeds
  • Carrots thrive in light, rock-free soil
  • Easily harvested as needed
  • Successive planting, one in spring (summer crop) and one summer (winter crop)
  • Easier to control pests like grubs, wireworms and moths
carrot

Carrot Dragon: Red is the new Orange.

How to Grow Carrots in a Container

  • Choose a wide container at least two to three inches deeper than the mature length of the carrot cultivar you’ve chosen.
  • Fill with bag of potting soil, leaving two-inch rim to allow for watering.
  • No need to put rocks in the bottom or shards of clay pots (not necessary).
  • Plant seeds around last frost date in your area. (Carrot seeds can handle cold weather.)
  • Scatter seeds carefully about one inch apart over entire area.
  • Cover seeds with more potting soil, but very lightly, only about 1/4 inch.
  • Lightly water surface area. Carrot seeds can float away, so gentle watering is the key until sprouted.
  • Don’t let soil dry out for more than a day during the germination period.
  • Once sprouted with two to three leaves, thin out any crowded carrot plants, leaving an inch or two between plants.
  • Keeped watered but not waterlogged.
  • Carrots prefer cooler soil temperatures so a mixture of sun and shade is good.
  • I don’t fertilize carrots as that usually promotes green leafy growth and spindly roots.
  • To deter pests, cover container with reemay, which lets light in, and keeps bugs out. (Optional: This may not be necessary in all areas.)
  • Sample your carrots throughout the growing season and harvest as you wish.
  • Carrots usually take anywhere from two to four months to reach mature size.
into the sink

Bath time for my garden friends

Carrots come in many colors, including red, yellow, white and purple. Last year I tried some unusual varieties like Dragon, Cosmic Purple and Atomic Red, and all were quite tasty and fine performers in my carrot container garden. So give it a try if you’ve found growing carrots difficult in the past. Corralling your carrots may just be the trick.

Tall Clover Recipe Favorites: 

red carrots

Rooted in tastiness

Carrot Seed Sources

Fun Fact About Carrots

“Carrots are more nutritious cooked than raw. When cooked whole, they have 25 percent more falcarinol, a cancer-fighting compound, than carrots that have been sectioned before cooking.”

-Jo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side.