Carrots are root vegetables that are delicious, nutritious, and incredibly easy to grow at home.
Garden-grown carrots may not always look like the perfect orange, uniformly shaped carrots in your local supermarket, but they make up for it with the flavor.
If you’ve ever tried growing them, though, you may already know that carrot seeds take forever to germinate!
So, how long does it take carrots to germinate under good conditions? Between 7-21 days. But no stress, we explain how to speed up the germination process below.
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How Long Does it Take Carrots to Germinate?
Carrot seeds can take what seems like a lifetime to germinate! Almost all carrot varieties germinate slowly, and in most cases, they take between 7 and 21 days before they germinate from seed.
Some gardeners choose to sow the un-germinated seeds directly into the soil and let them germinate there, but that method usually takes the most time.
How to Germinate Carrot Seeds Indoors (Step-by-Step)
If you want to speed up the germination process, there is the option of germinating your carrot seeds indoors and sowing them directly after.
This process is undoubtedly more hands-on, but carrot seeds can germinate in just a few days by doing so.
Here are some quick steps to follow to germinate your carrot seeds indoors.
- Soak your carrot seeds in distilled water for about 60 minutes.
- Transfer the seeds to a moist paper towel, and fold the paper towel over the seeds to maintain moisture coverage.
- Place the paper towel and carrot seeds inside an air-tight Tupperware container or glass jar and close the lid.
- Store the container in a dark, room-temperature environment for the next several days.
- Keep an eye on the seeds, and once you see sprouts, they are ready to be sown.
How To Plant Your Carrot Seeds
Unfortunately, planting carrot seeds is not as easy as planting a chaos garden, seeing that we need some insights into our surroundings to raise a successful carrot garden.
If you really want to grow carrots at home, here are some of the most important factors and important things to remember before you start planting!
When Can You Plant Carrot Seeds?
The best time to sow carrot seeds is in early spring or late summer, depending on when you want to harvest. Carrots grown throughout the fall will generally have a sweeter, more defined taste! However, you can plant carrots year-round, anywhere between the last and first frost dates.
If you plant your seeds in spring, do this roughly three weeks before the last frost date. This way, your carrots will be out of the soil after the last chance of frost, and the foliage will not be harmed by cold!
Where To Plant Carrots
Plant your carrot seeds in fertile soil with good drainage. Before sowing, prepare your soil by digging up any rocks, lumps of soil, or other objects; this will help prevent the carrot roots from growing stunted and crooked.
After digging up all the rocks from the soil, add some organic matter or compost and mix it well. Alternatively, carrots will grow well when planted in raised garden beds, and you can add a fluffy soil mix to your beds.
Planting Your Carrot Seeds
Plant your seeds in rows about 6 to 12 inches apart and a quarter inch deep underneath the surface of the soil. This way, the seedlings will have plenty of room to grow freely! Gently sprinkle a thin layer of soil over the planted seeds and thoroughly water them.
Sowing a new batch every two to three weeks will give you homegrown carrots year-round, but avoid planting too close together, because they will battle for space, leaving you with deformed and crooked carrots.
You can even consider planting your carrots in hay bales or using a thick layer of straw mulch and growing them there – a fun alternative to traditional soil-based gardening.
Different Types of Carrots To Plant
There are many lovely options when picking a variety of carrots to sow in your garden. Below are our favorite varieties of carrots to grow in our garden!
There are two Chantenay carrot varieties: the Red Cored Chantenay and the Royal Chantenay. The red-cored Chantenay is a popular carrot to grow, mainly because of its sweet taste. The Royal Chantenay is slightly pointier and orange-colored.
These carrots are known for their bright orangey-red insides (hence the name!) and are incredibly easy to grow, making them good choices for gardeners of any level.
Deep Purple Hybrid
These carrots are known for their color, which, as the name suggests, is dark purple. They are purple-colored from skin to core, making them a true sight in your salads and stews.
The Deep Purple Hybrid is often used for juicing because of its distinct sweet flavor. These purple carrots will surely enhance any meal it’s added to!
Little Finger Carrots
Little Fingers are the most popular variety of baby carrots you can grow. They are crisp and sweet and have a tender, flavorful core. If you grow them at home, these carrots will undoubtedly make their way into your lunch box.
Our favorite carrot variety is the Thumbelina Carrot! These sweet little carrots grow no larger than a golf ball and are undoubtedly the cutest vegetable we have ever seen!
Due to their small size, they are great for those who don’t have much space, have small gardens, or prefer to grow their veggies in raised beds.
Named after their location of origin (Massachusetts), the Danver carrots are the most popular carrot variety.
Most of your grocery store carrots will be Danvers because they are effortless to grow and yield high harvests, even in unfavorable growth conditions, such as dense, heavy soil mediums.
These long, thin carrots are a great option for gardening beginners, as they tolerate cold, heat, dense soil, and drought. So, if you are utterly new to carrot growing, opt for Danvers!
How To Care For Carrot Plants
A big part of what makes growing carrots at home attractive is their easy-care regimen. The hardest part of the carrot growth process is germination.
After that, these root crops are self-sustaining!
This makes them a wonderful vegetable for beginners or those who don’t have much time to spend in their gardens but still want a rewarding yield!
Make sure you plant your carrots in a sunny location where they will receive full sun for most of the day. Aim for at least six to eight hours of sun for mature plants!
Seedlings are less tolerant of direct sunlight, so try to offer young plants protection through a shade cloth or row cover. Once the carrot seedlings have grown over 5 inches, introduce them to full sun.
Newly planted seeds need moist soil to germinate, so during the germination period, apply an inch of water weekly until the seedlings have grown. Your carrots will only need additional waiting during prolonged dry spells in the summer.
If you grow your crops in a carrot bed, water thoroughly when the soil’s surface dries. Never allow the soil to dry out completely!
About two weeks after planting, side dress between rows with an organic, slow-release fertilizer. Avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen, as too much nitrogen will inhibit the carrot’s growth and can even cause numerous roots to form or develop”hairs” on the carrots.
Harvesting Your Carrot Crops
After 12 to 16 weeks, your carrots will be ready for harvesting. You can harvest the carrots at any size, but if you wait too long, they will lose flavor over time. But also, don’t harvest too early! Harvesting too soon can cause the carrots to have a bitter taste.
Right before harvesting, the first thing to do is water the soil. Moist soil makes the carrots easier to pull out and reduces the chances of breakage. Pull on the carrot tops gently. If you find the carrots are stuck, use a fork to lift them and pull them from the ground.
Did you know that winter carrots that have been exposed to cold temperatures will have a much sweeter taste than those grown in summer?
Storing Carrots After Harvesting
Keep Them Fresh In The Fridge
Most people will store their fresh produce in the refrigerator after harvesting. Refrigeration can keep your carrots fresh for up to three months!
After harvesting, remove the carrot tops and wash the roots thoroughly with water. Seal them in airtight bags, and place them in your fridge.
Storing your veggies in the fridge is the best way to keep them fresh during hot weather. So if you harvest your carrots in the summer, we recommend refrigerating them!
Leave Them In The Soil
If your carrots are grown in the winter, you can simply leave them in the soil until they are ready to use! The cold ground will keep them fresh, but remember that this will only keep your carrots fresh if outdoor temperatures are cold!
Store Carrots In Bins
If you want to keep your fall-harvested carrots fresh over the winter, store your carrots in large bins. First, allow the carrots to harden off after harvesting and cleaning by placing them out in the sun for a few hours.
Get some large bins or containers, and fill these up with a layer of slightly moist peat moss or wood chips. Add a layer of fresh carrots (make sure they do not touch each other!) and another layer of moss or chips, and repeat until the bins are full!
Place the bins in a cool, dark, and dry place. Check on the bins every couple of weeks to ensure the moss or chips have not dried out completely. Keeping it lightly moist will keep your carrots fresh throughout the winter!
Common Pests And Diseases for Carrots
Like most plants, carrots can fall prey to various pests and diseases. There are easy ways to prevent most of these by taking preventive measures during your growing process.
Below, you will find the most common issues gardeners face while growing carrots in their gardens.
Carrot Rust Fly
A carrot fly is a small, black fly that likes to lay eggs in your garden soil. The larvae of these flies feed on your carrot roots, which causes the roots to rot. Sadly, once this pest has gotten into your crops, there is nothing to do to fight it.
Prevent carrot flies in your garden by placing a protective mesh barrier over your crops, and avoid breaking the carrot tops during weeding and maintenance, because the smell attracts flies!
Aphids are a common pest for any type of garden plant, and carrots are no exception. These small, green, black, or white-colored bugs feed on your carrot’s green tops.
They can cause severe damage to your crops since they live in big colonies and feed on the nutrients in your plants’ foliage.
To treat aphids, use a pyrethrin-based pesticide or a neem oil solution once every couple of days until all signs of the pest are gone. Prevent Aphid infestations by spraying neem oil around your garden every few weeks.
Why Won’t Your Carrots Germinate?
You Are Using Old Carrots Seeds
Carrot seeds are good for up to three years. After that, the chances of germination are significantly reduced. The best way to encourage fast germination is by using new seeds from a freshly purchased seed packet.
You Don’t Have The Proper Soil Temperature
Your seeds will germinate faster in warm temperatures, preferably 70F or above! You will notice seeds sown in early spring germinate much slower than those sown around late fall.
If you want to harvest your carrots early, planting them in a cold frame to protect them from the cold may be a good idea, as the seeds will slow down germinating when planted in overly cool soil. A good idea can be to add these to your October planting list.
Your Soil Is Too Heavy
Carrot seedlings need well-drained, loose soil with plenty of access to oxygen and moisture to sprout. Heavy clay soil will hold onto too much moisture and block proper airflow, inhibiting your carrot’s germination process.
If your soil is very dense and heavy, properly prepare it with compost to enhance the soil quality before you sow carrots or plant them in a raised bed filled with loose, sandy soil to allow them to grow freely.
You Haven’t Watered Enough
While the carrot seeds are germinating, they need constant and even moisture in the soil. Please check on your soil’s moisture daily to ensure it remains slightly damp.
Too much water from something like a heavy rain can cause rot to the tender roots, so avoid letting the soil get overly soggy!
You Planted Your Seeds Too Deep
Planting your seeds too deep in the ground will increase the carrot germination time because it takes the sprouts longer to reach the soil surface and pop out of the ground!
For the best results, plant your carrot seeds a quarter inch deep into the soil and avoid going much deeper.
FAQ About Growing Carrots
Do Carrots Need Full Sun To Germinate?
During the germination process, it’s best to give your carrot seeds bright but indirect sunlight. Too much direct sun may burn the young leaves when they first appear! Provide some shade during the hottest hours of the day for the first weeks of your carrot’s growth.
Once your little seedlings have grown 5” or taller, they have gained enough strength to be exposed to direct sunlight indefinitely.
Why Are Your Carrots Taking So Long To Grow?
Carrots seeds can take a long time to germinate. Even in optimal conditions, it will take up to a month to see sprouts emerging. If it’s been over a month, your carrot germination is likely failing or slowed due to heavy soils, inconsistent moisture, or cold temperatures.
The first year of growth is usually the time you will learn the most, so keep an open mind and switch up your style depending on results!
How Do You Speed Up Carrot Germination?
The best way to speed up carrot germination is by taking the right measurements before planting your seeds. Be sure to use fresh seeds, loamy soil (or rocky soil), plant the seeds at the right time, and keep the soil well-watered as you wait.
If you decide to try and germinate carrot seeds indoors, just be mindful when transplanting them into your garden. Carrots often die after being transplanted incorrectly, and many that don’t die will grow deformed roots.
Sowing them directly in your soil will ensure the most healthy carrot crop, but there is no one-size fits all answer for every situation!
Carrot Seed Germination Time (Soil)
If you’ve never grown carrots, be prepared to test your patience! Carrots can take three weeks to a month to germinate when sown into the soil before indoor germination. It’s also worth noting that different carrot varieties will have different germination rates.
It’s essential to keep up with removing weeds around your carrot crops. Due to the fertile, damp soil, weeds will quickly emerge as your carrots germinate.
Thinning out carrots is not advised, as the smell of crushed carrot foliage will attract pests!
Instead, make sure to sow your carrot seeds at a proper distance apart and be gentle when removing weeds.