grow carrots in pots

How to Grow Carrots in Pots [Container Carrot Growing Tips]

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Growing carrots in pots is an excellent introduction to growing root vegetables.  It’s possible to easily get a good harvest of fabulous carrots from a container without having to invest a lot of time and effort in a garden or allotment.  While not all varietimies of carrots work as well in pots, there are several that grow extremely well in pots and that can deliver you a great harvest of your own carrots.  Growing carrots in pots is also a fabulous way of avoiding poor soil, weeds and pests.

How to grow carrots in pots

You can grow any variety of carrots in pots, however many of the regular length carrots just won’t grow as long.  Smaller varieties of carrots, such as Chantenay Red Core or Danvers Half Long, will, however, thrive in containers.  You’ll need to make sure that your container is deep enough and your compost is moist enough to maximize the growth of your carrots.

The best pots to grow carrots in

Your first step in growing carrots in containers is to get the best container.  Carrot bags are a great easy way to get started, these bags are about 50 centimetres deep and they’re seriously easy to store.  Alternatively, find a pot or a planter that’s the same depth.  If you’re reusing any container, make sure you’ve washed it out thoroughly with soap and water, rinsed it properly and then dried if properly too.  A wider pot simply means you can grow more carrots in the same pot.

The best pots for growing carrots in can be of literally any material, they can be clay, terracotta, plastic.  Containers for growing carrots in can also be any shape, so go and raid the garden and check out the attic and see what you’ve got!

Don’t forget to drill some drainage holes if there aren’t any in there.  If you don’t have drainage holes in your carrot container, then it’s likely that your carrots will rot.

growing carrots in pots

Why grow carrots in pots?

There are several reasons to grow carrots in containers.  The first is obviously to use all available space, and secondly if you don’t have garden space to grow them in.  We like that its easier to control pests by growing carrots in pots too.  It’s also a great way to get started.  If you don’t know if you’re going to have fun growing carrots, then putting a few seeds in a pot is an easy way to create a manageable situation.

When to plant carrots in pots

If you’re growing carrots outside, then you should plant after the first frost.  While it’s true that carrots like cooler weather, they won’t react well to frost.  If you’re unsure as to when this is in your area you can start with them indoors and move them outdoors.  When it comes to planting carrots in pots bear in mind that carrots don’t like transplanting, so you’re best sowing them directly into their forever home.

The BEST time to plant carrots is in March.  We also recommend that you use succession sowing for carrots when you are planting carrots in containers.  Plant a container or two a week and then you’ll get a decent and steady supply of carrots throughout the summer and autumn.  Planting them all together will give you a bit of a glut and then you’ll have to figure out how to store your carrots for the longer term – or eat them all at once!  You’ll want to water them well after you’ve sowed your carrots and then make sure they’re placed in partial sun.

grow carrots in pots

The best varieties of carrots to grow in pots

While all varieties of carrots will grow in pots, those that do best are the shorter varieties.  We’d also recommend selecting carrot varieties that take less time to mature.  These varieties of carrots do well in containers:

How to grow carrots from seed

Carrots are not known for transplanting well, so you’ll start your carrot crop from seeds.  While March and early Sring is the best time to sow carrot seeds, if it is particularly cold (and frosty) where you are you can start thigs off inside – try these biodegradable pots –and then put your biodegradable pot inside a larger one outside once it’s warmed up.

Start by watering the pot of compost fully and wait until the water has drained through completely.  Sprinkle your carrot seeds over the soil and top up with 5 centimetres of soil.  Press down lightly.  Germination of the carrot seed will take about 21 days.  It will get pretty crowded first of all, so thin the weaker looking outs out by pulling them out gently.  Try not to disturb the plants that you’re leaving in.

 

After a few weeks, you’ll want to make sure that each plant has enough space by thinning them a little and perhaps add a little food.  A general-purpose veggie food will do.  You’ll need to also make sure that the soil is kept moist as pots tend to try out a lot quicker than soil in the garden itself.  Top up the compost levels if the tops of the carrots start to show about the soil line and if it’s exposed to sunshine, as this means that the carrots will turn green and taste bitter.

Read our 14 awesome edible garden tips – which includes how to keep pests at bay!

How to store carrots

After harvesting and for the next five months carrots actually increase the amount of Vitamin A contained within then!  If they’re kept away from light and heat then they hold this nutritional content for another 60 to 90 days.  Read more about the nutritional value of carrots here.  The trick to storing carrots is to minimizing the moisture that they lose, thicker carrots will store better and for longer.  You can also extend the life of carrots by refrigerating them, freezing them, bottling them, pickling them, or actually leaving them in the ground!

best carrots to grow in containers

Tips for growing carrots in containers

We like to start small and see how a variegy of vegetables goes and then expand out.  Start with a well known and well-tested variety and start with a couple of pots planted in succession, because the worst thing is finding that you’re successful at growing a vegetable, loving the taste and then having to wait until next year to try it again!

Where to grow carrots

Carrots grow well in pots of about 50 centimetres deep.  They also do well in carrot growing bags -and we recommend these multi-purpose grow bags.  They like partial to good sun, but remember, the more sun they have, especially when they’re in pots, the more they’re going to dry out and you do need to keep the soil or compost moist.

When to plant carrots

You’ll want to plant carrots in early Spring, March is usually a good time, although try and wait until after the first frost.  Perhaps start them off in biodegradable pots inside and then move them outside.  Try NOT to transplant carrots as they really don’t like this very much.

What variety of carrots to grow in pots

It doesn’t matter what a carrot looks like when you’re growing your own, its what it tastes like!  If you want to grow the standard looking carrots then Chantenay Red Core is perfect, but if looks aren’t everything to you, then go for one of the shorter, fatter ones that do really well in containers.  Try Parmex or Parisienne. Options here

How to harvest carrots

Your carrots will be ready to harvest from about 12 weeks or 3 months after you’ve sowed the seed. You don’t have to pick them at that point, because carrots store well by being left in the ground.  However, this is a balancing act.  The bigger the carrot the less taste it’s likely to have, but the thicker the carrot the better chance it has for retaining taste and moisture if storing for the longer term!

Its always a good idea to read the instructions on your seed packets as o when they’re likely to be ready too (don’t throw them away!)  Carrots are ready to harvest when the tops of the root can be seen just above the soil line.  Loosen the soil and pull gently.  Use a trowel to break up the soil.

How to Grow Carrots in Containers FAQS

Here are the questions most people have about growing carrots in containers. If we haven’t answered one that you have, then ask us in the comments, or drop us an email.

What’s the best container to grow carrots in?

You can grow carrots in ANY container, so long as there are drainage holes in it to stop the compost becoming waterlogged.  Carrot planter bags are great.

What is the depth of planter for carrots needed?

You’ll want a depth of at least 50 centimetres, to get a decent carrot length.  These are the best carrot grow bags for carrots that we’ve found.

Can you grow carrots in a bag?

Yes!  Carrots can easily be grown in a bag.

How often should carrots in a pot be watered?

You will need to water carrots that are growing in a pot regularly.  Water at the soil level.  If you water the leafy tops of the carrots then you could end up with rot problems.  Make sure the soil is kept moist, especially if the carrots are situated in a sunny spot.  If you’re planting carrots in July, you’ll want to keep a close eye on the moisture in the soil.

What’s the best compost or soil to grow carrots in?

The best compost for carrots in pots is a multi-purpose compost (read our post on suggestions here).  This compost is good for carrot growth.  If you’re growing the carrots in soil then make sure that there are no stones.  Equally, make sure that any hard bits of soil or compost are broken up and loosen.  When a carrot meets an obstruction is when the carrot becomes misshaped as it tries to grow round it!

Do my carrots need fertilizer or plant food?

If you’ve gone for good compost, then there should be nutrients in the compost that last 6-12 weeks.   Carrots don’t necessarily need fertiliser or plant food though.

Can I reuse the compost from my carrots?

Yes, it’s absolutely possible to reuse the compost or soil in your post for either more carrots or other vegetables. Clear out any root tangles that might be left and if you’re going to reuse it for carrots, we’d suggest that you change it completely – perhaps put other vegetables in and mix with either more purchased compost, or enrich it with your own compost – read about making your own compost here.

What other fruit and vegetables can I grow in pots?

Try these other guides to growing in pots and containers

Final Words on growing carrots in pots

Growing carrots in pots makes it so easy to start a vegetable garden.  If you have family, then giving the kids control over a pot each and competitive carrot growing could be the next activity that they get involved with.  It’s also easy to control the environment when you’re growing vegetables in pots.  Pests are less of a problem, so is waterlogging and its much easier to keep weeds under control too!  Good luck, we hope you have a fabulous carrot harvest.

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