Delicious and packed with vitamins, carrots are a traditional grow-your-own favourite.
Carrots are quick and easy to grow, taking up little space, and can even be grown in containers. Sow small batches regularly for cropping from early summer through to autumn.
Grow your own
Difficulty – Easy
Sow - February-July
Harvest – May-October
Seed Packet - Aprox 1500 Seeds
Carrots need an open, sunny site and fertile, well-drained soil. If your soil is stony, shallow or heavy clay, you may end up with stunted or forked carrots, so try short-rooted types. These are also ideal for growing in containers.
Early cultivars can be sown in February or March under cloches or with similar protection. The main outdoor sowing season is from April to early July. Seed packets will state whether the cultivar is an early or maincrop type.
Sow the seeds as thinly as possible, 1cm (½in) deep, in rows 15–30cm (6–12in) apart. Thin out seedlings if necessary, aiming for plants 5–7.5cm (2–3in) apart.
Carrots are drought resistant so seldom need watering. However, in long dry spells they will benefit from a soaking.
Fast-growing weeds can crowd out carrots, so hand weed regularly between rows.
Cover crops with fleece tunnels or put up barriers around them to prevent carrot flies (see below) laying their eggs. Be careful too when weeding or thinning that you don’t crush the foliage, as the smell attracts carrot fly.
Carrots are ready about 12–16 weeks after sowing.
Harvest as soon as they’re large enough to use – don’t aim for the largest roots or you’ll sacrifice flavour.
Lift the roots carefully using a fork if your soil is heavy.