Carrots have a reputation as a tricky crop, but they are actually quite easy to grow once you know how. That said, how many carrot seeds per hole should you plant?
Although a finicky plant, carrots grow well in the right conditions. I've always found that by following some basic rules, the process went smoothly. When planting carrots, plant 2-3 per hole, and thin them out later.
If you know that the carrot seeds are very fresh, you can drop this amount to 1-2. They don’t need much space, so you can plant your rows about a foot apart from each other in your garden.
However, planting the correct number of seeds won’t achieve anything if the other conditions aren’t right. So here’s everything you need to know about growing carrots in your garden.
Types of Carrots
One of the Reasons carrots are such a fun plant to grow is that there are so many varieties to choose from. There's the rainbow-colored Kaleidoscope, the sweeter Nantes, the long, thin Danvers, and many more.
I usually go for the classic Red Core Chantenay, but what you plant will depend on your preferred flavor. Don’t worry, you can follow the same guidelines for any type.
Just be aware that longer varieties will need more space to grow downwards. In fact, you can even mix-and-match and grow a variety of different carrots.
The first thing to consider is when to plant your carrots. With root vegetables, the temperature of the soil is extra important, and greatly affects the plant's quality. Too hot or cold, and the carrot may develop a bitter taste.
For cooler climates, aim to plant in for spring when the cold frosts have stopped. If a random frosty night does strike, your carrots should still be fine. But in general, you should plant when the weather has fully thawed out.
If you are living in a warmer climate, you don’t want to plant in the hottest months. Aim for mid-late fall, when the weather has started to cool a little.
Always use the direct sowing method for carrots. Carrots don’t react well to being transposed, as it almost always deforms the root. So don’t start by planting them in the house. Always plant them directly in the garden.
Preparing the Soil
This is an important step in planting carrots as it ensures healthy root development. Again, as carrots are a root vegetable this is extra important as they may become fully deformed.
Loosen the soil and remove any debris, like loose stones or sticks. Mixing in compost and organic fertilizer is highly recommended. This helps balance both texture and the nutrients in the soil.
However, avoid high nitrogen fertilizers as carrots do not need high levels of nitrogen, and it can cause them to form multiple roots.
Planting Your Carrot Seeds
Keep rows about a foot apart. Make shallow trenches in the soil. Use your finger to draw a line in the dirt, then gently place the seeds about 1 inch apart.
Use your finger to work them down into the soil until they are about 1/4” deep. Then cover the trench with soil and gently pack the earth down.
Next, moisten the soil. Ensure not to let the soil become too wet as this will displace the seeds. Use a low setting on your garden hose to moisten the ground without it getting soggy.
Carrots can take some time to germinate, and it can take 14-20 days to see them sprout, so you need to be patient. Make sure to keep the soil moist at this point.
What you’ll see as they sprout are two long thin leaves, known as the seed leaves.
Caring for Seedlings
The most important thing for your carrots is ensuring that their soil remains at a steady moist level.
After the seed leaves, you will see the first true leaves start to appear. At this point, start to feed them liquid fertilizer at half strength.
Thinning the Seedlings
If any of the seeds have not been spaced properly (which is easy to do with those tiny seeds, so don’t worry) you will now need to thin the seedlings. This entails removing some of the ones planted too close together and leaving only the strongest to thrive.
First, decide which is the strongest seedling of any group packed too tightly together. This will be the one that is the most compact and has the thickest stem. If none look to be, just choose the one that looks healthiest to you.
This is a delicate job, so use very small clippers, such as micro-tip pruning snips or bonsai shears. Disinfect the blades with rubbing alcohol.
Do not try and pull the seedlings out, as it can easily damage the nearby roots of the others. Simply cut the weaker seedlings off at the base.
On average, seed to harvest will be 60-80 days, but it varies depending on which variety you are growing. Check the seed packet to find out what you should expect.
As they are hidden away under the soil, the only way to know if carrots are ready is to pick one. If the carrot you pick looks healthy and tastes crisp and crunchy, it’s time to harvest.
Storing Your Carrots
Cut the green from your carrots to make sure they last as long as possible, as the leaves will still pull nutrients from the carrot root even after harvesting. Laying the carrots in the sun to dry out also helps retain the freshness of the carrot.
Leave the carrots unwashed in an airtight container and wash them right before eating them. Stored like this in the fridge, they will last up to three months.
To get the best results, planting 2-3 carrot seeds per hole is the optimal amount. But there are many other factors to successful growth. As carrots are root vegetables, the focus needs to be on the soil.
Ensure it is good quality, and free of debris so that the carrot root can grow without impediment. Following all this, you can harvest fresh, sweet, and crispy carrots straight from your garden every year!