No Products in the Cart
Carrots are a wonderful crop to grow in your Florida vegetable garden. They are a lot of fun, especially if you're working with children in the garden, and to be quite honest, adults too.
There are some nuances to growing carrots from seed and some tips that I will be sharing with you that can help you get better results and better yields. In this blog, we'll be discussing which types of carrots to plant in Florida, as well as the best planting, growing techniques, and maintenance tips.
Knowing what to plant when in your Florida vegetable garden is so important because it’s opposite from most of the country!
This is exactly the case for carrots. Most of the country will grow carrots over the spring and summer months whereas in Florida we grow them over the winter months.
In general, Florida gardeners are going to be growing carrots between October and March. If you are located in North Florida, you can plant them a little bit earlier in the Fall and later into Spring resulting in a longer growing season. For South Florida, it's best to plant them in November.
If you try to grow carrots over the summer months in Florida, the seeds will not germinate and will not form any roots.
Carrots can be grown in either raised beds or in containers as long as you have a bare minimum of eight to twelve inches of soil for them to grow in. Ideally, a soil depth of twelve to fourteen inches. If you're one of those lucky gardeners who have nice two to three-foot-deep beds, even better.
As a beginner gardener, don't be afraid to think outside of the box when growing carrots! If you'd like, you could grow your carrots in a five-gallon bucket with drainage holes in the bottom.
I did successfully grow carrots last season in my GreenStalk Vertical Planter. They currently offer two types of vertical planters, the Original GreenStalk and its smaller counterpart, the Leaf GreenStalk. The growing pockets in the Leaf Vertical Planter are much more shallow than the Original. I recommend if you want to grow carrots in a GreenStalk tower that you only use the Original GreenStalk because of the depth of the growing pockets.
No matter if you are also growing in a GreenStalk or you have another type of container, pay attention to the growing depth. If you try to plant carrots in soil that does not have enough room for them, you end up with either stunted growth or you'll have deformed carrots.
Some carrots grow really long but here in Florida, I usually suggest half-long varieties. These usually only grow six to ten inches long, but they do much better in our soil conditions as most Florida gardeners are growing in some form of raised bed or container due to poor native soil. With these limitations, the half-long varieties shine.
All these varieties do well here in Florida. If interested in seeds for these varieties, check out The Urban Harvest Seed Shop where I have a curated collection of seeds all selected for growing here in Florida.
Carrots like light, and need at least six hours up to eight hours of sun daily. They can be planted in an area with partial shade, but if they are in less sunny growing conditions, they are going to be slower to grow and likely will not form as big of roots.
When it comes to soil, there are certain conditions that you should be aware of. If your soil is compacted, if you live in North Florida with clay soil, or if you live in the South with hard-packed limestone soil, you must loosen the soil before planting your carrots. If you're working in a raised bed, make sure the soil beneath the raised bed is ideally loosened.
If you are wanting to jumpstart the growing season and are planting carrots in the fall, be aware that your soil may be compacted from the heavy rains over the summer months.
As far as fertilizer is concerned carrots do like a lot of potassium and phosphorus. When you check the bag of fertilizer, you'll notice the acronym NPK printed on it. For ideal carrot growing conditions, you should look for a fertilizer that has higher levels of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).
These two nutrients are essential to achieve the best results. That being said, homegrown compost will do beautifully for you and even the well-rounded fertilizers will still do well for your carrots.
When it comes to planting carrots, the first thing I would suggest is to directly sow your seeds. Carrots which are a root crop are not a vegetable that you can buy as a vegetable start because the root of the plant is what is harvested and eaten.
If you try to start carrots seeds in trays and transplant them into the garden it is almost 100% likely that you are going to damage the root system, which is what you're harvesting, resulting in them dying or being deformed.
Root crops like to be direct sown where they are going to grow.
Carrot seeds are very small and often new gardeners are concerned about how to plant them in a way that does not waste too much seed. There are two options.
The first option is to use pelleted seeds. Pelleted carrot seeds are coated with a thin layer of clay to increase their size to a little round ball to make it easier to handle and plant. These are also available to purchase in organic form.
Ultimately you are going to want your carrots about two inches apart so that they have plenty of room to grow in while maximizing your space. Pelleted seeds are easy to work with because you can pick up and use just one seed, go two inches, and plant another.
Alternatively, you can buy non-pelleted seeds, which are typically what I end up using on my urban homestead. When you are sprinkling the seeds into the soil, you do want to try to go on the light side. When you are growing carrots at home from seed, you need to go into it knowing that you're going to need to thin the seeds. Part of growing from seed is knowing when to thin things out.
To learn more about thinning your plants properly and why it is an important step in growing healthy produce at home, check out this blog post.
For carrots, I will usually dig my furrow, sprinkle in my carrot seeds, cover up my furrow, and then go back in about two weeks and thin them out. Then I will wait another week to ten days and thin them out again. By following this schedule, I'm able to get that proper two-inch spacing. It does not waste a ton of extra seed and the seedlings I do thin out I either enjoy as microgreens or I feed them to the chickens.
When thinning out your carrots it is ideal to trim the carrot seedlings out using scissors or garden shears rather than pulling them up out of the ground. If you remove the tender seedling by hand and there are a lot of the carrots nearby that you do ideally want to leave, you could likely damage the roots of the seedlings that you leave.
If you want to take it one step further and go into the realm of companion planting, carrots play nice with pretty much anything in the garden. The one thing that you would want to avoid are things that are in the same family like dill or cilantro. These vegetables are not good companion plants because they're likely to attract the same pests and fungal issues.
Carrots are a really good candidate for succession planting. I do have an entire video on my YouTube channel that details how and why to succession plant your plants that you can watch here.
But the basic concept is that you are not going to plant all of your carrots all at once because if you do, you will have a lot of carrots ready all at the same time.
If you want to have a steady and consistent harvest over the season, I recommend starting a row of carrots, waiting a couple of weeks, starting another row of carrots, and so on throughout the growing season. By implementing succession planting for your homegrown carrots you will have a manageable harvest consistently over the winter months. I utilize the SeedTime Garden Planner for my garden planning which helps remind me of succession planting making it super easy to keep up with it.
Carrots are slow growers, so do not expect to be able to harvest your carrots in a month like you do with radishes. It can take two, even three weeks for carrots to germinate, meaning sprout up out of the soil. It's then going to take anywhere from two to three months before they are ready to harvest.
When your carrots are around the two to three-month mark it is a good idea to check on your carrots to see if they are ready for harvesting. To do so very gently dig around the base of the leaves, and you will be able to see the width of the carrot from the carrot top either just below or peaking up out of the soil.
Depending on the carrot variety you planted in your Florida vegetable garden, it should be about the size of a quarter. If your carrots are smaller than this but have been in the ground for around two to three months this is also another indication that your carrots should be ready for you to harvest.
Pro Tip: Pull one carrot first to get an idea of the maturity and readiness of the carrots. That way, if the rest of the carrots need to stay in a little bit longer, no harm, no foul. If the pulled carrot is on the small side you get to enjoy a baby carrot snack.
Growing your own carrots from seed in Florida is a fun process that offers a delicious payoff for both young and adult gardeners alike. As you plan out your fall and winter vegetable gardens you will want to strategically place your carrots in a sunny spot with deep soil. You'll find that your carrots will thrive with a little care and the right conditions.
Remember the importance of soil quality, sunlight, and proper spacing as you sow your seeds, and don't be afraid to get creative when it comes to your growing containers.
The flavor of homegrown carrots by far surpasses the taste of what you find in the grocery store. With some patience, you will soon be harvesting these sweet, crisp treats from your very own garden.