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!
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.
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
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.
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:
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.