Carrots grow far better in containers and raised
beds compared to those grown open soil. Containers have crumbly
compost which is the ideal growing medium for carrots. You also have
total control over watering and weeding. The final benefit of
growing them in containers is that they can be crammed in with no
effect on cropping.
The smallest container which carrots can be grown in is
really only determined by the depth of the container. 20cm /
8in deep is about the shallowest container suitable for
carrots. The actual diameter of the container only affects
how many carrots can be grown in the container.
Plastic, clay, round, square or oblong containers are all
ideal, they make no difference whatsoever to how your
carrots grow. And of course carrots can be grown in exactly
the same way in raised beds.
RECOMMENDED VARIETIES OF CARROTS FOR RAISED BEDS
It's difficult to recommend specific varieties of
carrots because taste varies so much. However, a few words
on the different types of carrots and their names will help
you make a decision on which ones you want to grow.
The first division of carrot types is between main crop
carrots and early carrots. Early carrots, as the name
implies mature early, they take around 12 weeks to mature.
In general they are smaller and sweeter than maincrop
varieties. The down side is that early carrots do not store
nearly as well as maincrop carrots.
So, if you want carrots which store well then select
maincrop varieties. If you want quick maturing carrots then
go for earlies.
Next, are the various words which are commonly used to
describe different carrot shapes and types. Nantes type
carrots are earlies, medium width and length. They store
reasonably well and cope with clay well.
Amsterdam type carrots are small and slender and mature
quickly. They do not store well but have a sweet taste,
great for eating raw. Chantenay type carrots are favoured by
chefs because of their tip top flavour. They are cone-shaped
and medium sized.
Autumn King type carrots are the ones to use if you want
to store them over winter. The are definitely main crop and
take a long time to mature. Their name might give the
impression that they do well in colder climates but in fact
they need a good 16 to 20 weeks of sun to mature and be
ready for storage.
Which variety are we growing this year? Early Nantes 5
because they taste good, mature quickly and be sown in
succession from March to mid July.
WHEN TO SOW CARROTS
Carrots are generally hardy plants and they suit cooler
climates well. The seed packet will tell you when to sow
them but early March is a good time to start. If you are
growing early types then don't sow them all at once, sow a
few at time, just enough so that they can be eaten straight
from the ground.
However, if you are sowing maincrop varieties then sow
all of them in mid March. They will tend to mature all
together in August to September time but they can be stored
for eating over winter.
HOW TO SOW CARROTS
Sowing carrots in containers and raised beds is
easy. Draw a line in the soil with a plant marker to form a shallow groove
about 2cm / ¾in deep. Pour a small
amount of seed into the crease in the palm of your
hand. Then tap your hand whilst it is gently
sloping down. In this way a small amount of seed
will be sown. Cover the seeds lightly with the
surrounding soil and gently water them.
If you are sowing more than one row then
space the rows about 7cm / 3in apart. Another way of sowing carrots is to simply sprinkle them
in a line on the soil as described above and then cover with
thin layer of multi-purpose compost or horticultural
vermiculite. Water gently over the surface.
The reason we try and limit the number of seed sown is to
reduce the later need for thinning the seedlings out.
With such fine seed it's easy to sow far too many increasing
the time it takes to thin out the seed.
Below is our amateur video showing how we sow carrots in
a raised bed. Because carrots can tolerate shade and are
small plants, they are ideal candidates for inter-cropping
(growing in between other plants). Our video also shows us
sowing seed in a container that already has raspberry plants
Video showing how to sow carrots in a raised bed or container
CARE OF CARROTS
Carrots will do fine if you
follow the care instructions we give for raised beds
(the same applies to container grown carrots) which
can be found
here. Our weekly calendar (see top left of
this page) will also show what's to be done this
week for the container and raised bed garden.
Water is the prime need though as
far as carrots are concerned, especially if they are
grown in small containers.
They may even need watering twice a day if the weather is
warm and they are in the sunshine. With containers, it may
be best to move your carrots into a shady position if a long
warm spell is predicted.
Feed once a week with a general purpose fertilise, tomato
fertiliser is even better because it will encourage better
When the carrot seedlings emerge, about ten days after
sowing, thin them out in the evening (to avoid the attention
of carrot fly) to about 1cm / ¼in apart. No further thinning
is required because when the carrots begin to get congested
simply harvest them as young plants.
To harvest carrots grown in raised beds and containers
simply grip the foliage near the top of the carrot and
gently ease them out of the soil. Harvest them when they are
young and they will be the sweetest carrots of all.
Where you harvest carrots before mid July, sow more seed
in the freed up space. They stand a very good chance of
maturing before the end of the season.
If you grow maincrop carrots then storing them over winter
is a real possibility. Early October is the latest time to
harvest maincrop carrots. Much later than that and the frost
may get to them.
Harvest the carrots and brush off any loose soil. Leave
them to dry for a few hours, outside if the weather is dry.
Lightly brush off any remaining soil and store the carrots
in boxes lined with sand. Place sand between the individual
carrots so that they don't touch. Only store carrots which
are in perfect condition. Store in a cool, dry place and
inspect them every few weeks removing any that show signs of
CARROT PEST AND DISEASE
When grown in containers, carrots are
normally free from pest and disease. Carrot Fly may be a
problem but not normally. The reason for this is that the
carrot fly insect flies just above the soil surface.
Containers are generally high enough to
avoid their attention.
However, it's best to thin carrots in the evening when
carrot fly are not about and to dispose of the thinnings
well away from the growing carrots. If you are plagued by
carrot fly however, you will need to cover the raised bed or
container with horticultural fleece or similar.
You can recognise carrot fly damage only when you pull
the carrots up. The carrots will be damaged with brown marks
and small holes. If you cut the carrot open there may well
be creamy coloured maggots present.
Always rotate carrots from one raised bed to another each
year because the carrot fly pupae are quite capable of
overwintering in the soil.
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