Fruit and Vegetable Gardening A-Z: Carrots

Slender and crunchy, this root vegetable is rich in beta-carotene and vitamins C, D, and E, as well as fiber. Enjoy them mashed, grated, steamed, or straight from the ground throughout the growing season.

Hardiness Zones:
3-12 (Find your hardiness zone.)

When to Plant:
In early spring, begin sowing seeds directly in the garden. Continue sowing every two weeks thereafter until mid-summer if you want a continual harvest into fall. This seed can be slow to germinate, so be sure to mark the area where you planted it. The distinctive, green starburst tops emerge in about two weeks.

Carrots can do well in many different kinds of soil, but the ideal soil is loose—almost sandy— and free from any rocks. Deeply digging into the soil, to aeration and prepare the site, is essential; carrots can easily become deformed in tightly packed or rocky soil. Carrots also need plenty of sun.

Space Needed:
Each carrot should be spaced about 3 inches apart after thinning (see below). A quarter ounce (0.25) of seeds can plant a 100-foot row of carrots!

Thin the seedlings when they are several inches tall so plants are 3 inches apart. While the seeds are germinating, water them liberally but avoid weeding too closely to the plants as they have very delicate root systems. Constant moisture helps prevent the carrots from splitting. Interplant with onions to ward of carrot fly infestation. (Interplanting is the practice of cultivating two or more crops in the same space at the same time, similar to companion planting.) Weed diligently.

When to Harvest:
Carrots are ready for harvest after about 70-80 days. Watch for when their orange tops breach the soil line, and loosen the soil around them with a garden fork before removing them from the soil.

Average Yield:
Yield varies by type of carrot planted, but a packet of seeds can grow upwards of 30 pounds of carrots.

Continuous Yield:

Life Cycle:

Difficulty Rating (1-5):