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The Secret to Growing Better Carrots

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

Fresh garden carrots taste so much better than those purchased in the store! Carrots are easy to grow in northern climates and require little maintenance. Growing carrots in your backyard vegetable garden is easy to do and so rewarding! Let me share with you a few tips for growing carrots in containers, raised beds or your in-ground garden.

Carrot Varieties

Gardening in Calgary, Canada produced garden carrots grown from seed in a raised bed as shown in a basket.
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There are 4 different main varieties of carrots differing mainly in the shape they grow in. The Imperator is the longest and slenderest with a pointed tip of the carrot. The Nantes are a similar size from top to bottom and have a slightly rounded tip. The Danvers is wider at the top, similar in length to the Nantes and has a pointed tip. The Chantenay is the shortest and widest variety with almost a rounded shape to it. Carrots come in many colours, not just the standard orange. My personal favourite carrot variety to grow is the Nantes.

The Best Type of Soil for Carrots

Carrots grow best in loose, sandy, well drained soil that is free from rocks and debris. Carrots will benefit from adding compost or coffee grounds to the soil prior to planting them. Till or dig your garden soil to a 12 inch depth to make sure it is loose.

You can check out my tips on improving garden soil for ideas on how to create a better growing environment for your plants.

When to Plant Carrot Seeds

You plant carrot seeds up to 3 weeks before the last frost as soon as your garden soil is workable. Gardening in Calgary, Alberta, in the zone 3 climate where I am this means planting carrot seeds at the very end of April or beginning of May. Planting carrots this early is sooner than I thought your were able to in my beginning gardening years, but since I have been planting carrots the end of April (April 29th this year) the size of my carrots has increased. The carrot seeds don't seem to germinate until they can withstand the cold and the snow on top of them hasn't seemed to bother them.

How to Plant Carrot Seeds

Before planting your carrot seeds rake your garden soil free of stones and debris. You can plant carrots either in rows or in patches. When planting in patches, set aside some of your garden soil, scattering seeds as evenly as possible throughout the space and then cover the seeds with 1/4 in. layer of the soil you had set aside.

When planting in rows, follow the spacing directions on your package. Dig a shallow row with a hoe or rake. Carrot seeds are tiny and it can be difficult to evenly space them. Purchasing seed tape will help to space the carrot seeds for you and you shouldn't have to thin them as much afterwards. I normally don't use the seed tape as it is more expensive, just do the best I can and thin them as needed (see below). Water gently to avoid disturbing your carrot seeds.