Here’s a simple primer on how to grow carrots from seed. Lots of people go to great lengths to prepare a fine seedbed in spring for all their vegetables. For many veg that simply isn’t unnecessary. However for carrots it definitely is.
Over the years I’ve tried growing carrots in different ways and the one thing that has always remained constant is the fact they must have a fine seedbed if you’re to get good germination.
How To Grow Carrots From Seed
Having prepared the seedbed it’s a good idea to water well immediately before sowing the seed. Then once the seed’s in you can very lighly cover it over, either using a rake or your fingers.
The reason for watering prior to planting is that when you have a very fine seedbed that gets wet from watering then subsequently dries out, the surface of the soil often forms a hard crust that effectively seals the seed in and becomes a difficult barrier for the emerging seedling to break through. By watering before sowing it means when you subsequently lightly rake the soil to cover the seed the action of the rake disturbs the soil which prevents it drying as a crust.
Sow your seeds once the danger of frost is past, though for an earlier start you could protect them under some horticultural fleece or cover with glass or clear perspex.
Try to avoild planting in very stony soil or you’re likely to get lots of forked or misshapen roots as they have to grow around any stones they encounter as they grow.
Similarly you shouldn’t grow them in a recently manured, or otherwise enriched, soil as forking of the roots is likely from that too. The reason is that the root splits in different directions to go in search of the nutrients.
You can buy carrot tapes. These are rolls of thin paper impregnated with seed evenly spaced approx every inch. I tried them once but have never bothered with them since; they’re a lot more expensive than a normal packet of seed and I couldn’t see any advantage in growing them that way.
So now I just sow thinly along the row then, other than making sure the seedbed remains moist till they’ve germinated, I leave well alone for a few months. Once the young carrots have reached the stage they’re just about big enough to eat as ‘baby’ carrots you can thin along the rows from that point on. Don’t worry about doing it all in one go – just do it as and when you want some carrots to eat. That way you get to eat the tender young thinnings rather than throw them away.
From that point on I just pull them as and when I need them. As the season progresses they get bigger and bigger. I used to make sure I’d lifted the whole crop before winter, but nowadays I don’t bother, just leaving them in the ground regardless of the weather. I have noticed an increase in the amount of slug damage – by late winter some of the crop will be badly damaged in that way – but to be honest the seed is so cheap and the plants take up so little room that what I tend to do is compensate for that by just sowing a bit more seed than I think I’ll need. That way I can afford to just chuck any damaged roots straight onto the compost heap, knowing there’ll still be plenty more that’ll be fine. By doing this it avoids the hassle of lifting them before winter and making a clamp to store them in.
In terms of how to grow carrots from seed there’s not really much more to it than that.