Growing Big Carrots

By Lara DeHaven
Jake with some carrots

Jake with some carrots

Since we get many compliments on our carrots for their size, appearance, and taste, I thought I would share how we grow them. Carrots need room to grow. You need to provide good soil that enables them to grow straight.

One year we just planted the carrot seeds in a regular row. Not taking special care of them yielded ugly, misshaped carrots. You can also get really thin and short carrots that aren’t good for much by improperly caring for the carrots.

The first thing we do is prepare our soil by tilling the ground as deep as we can. We remove any clods of clay or roots that might be present. We form a row that is higher than let’s say a row for lettuce. This allows the carrots ample room to grow straight down. We have a relatively thin layer of topsoil. It is sandy loam and very fertile, but you hit red clay without digging very deep. Building up your row gives the carrots more room to grow without hitting the layer of clay.

The only other thing we do is aggressive thinning. We plant the seeds in a straight line down the middle of the row. We take a stick an draw a line ¼” deep. Then we drop the seeds along the shallow furrow and cover them lightly. As the carrots start forming nice green tops, we commence to thinning. We throw the tiny carrots to the chickens and/or give them to the rabbits. The goats like them too. There is no special selection process, but when you look at the tops you can see which carrots are larger. Leave those that are bigger and more developed. Pick the smaller ones which allows the bigger ones more room in which to grow even bigger.

As the growing season continues, the carrots that you pick in the thinning process are perfect for cooking and eating. We continue to feed the tops to our animals. By the end of the season you have rows of sweet, tender, huge carrots. Ours don’t get tough or stringy in the middle.

So the next time you are planting carrots make sure that you are giving them enough room to grow. Its not much of a secret, but it really works.

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23 Responses to “Growing Big Carrots”

  1. Jan

    Thanks for the information! We have tried planting carrots for YEARS without success. After reading your article I realized that we’re probably not allowing them enough room to grow vertically. I’m sharing your info with my hubby tonight!

    #13
  2. Lara DeHaven

    You are very welcome, Jan. Please let me know how your carrots do this year.

    #14
  3. Nila

    Thanks for the info this is the first year that we are growing carrots and now I know not to expect much from our crop. We didn’t do any of that lol. Maybe next year. Do you think they will grow well in a deep container? Your carrots are very nice looking!

    #53
  4. Lara DeHaven

    I definitely think that carrots will grow in a deep container. Anything that allows for the carrot to grow straight and long will work. Thanks for the compliment. I am confident that your carrots will look great too.

    #54
  5. Thank you, honestly we’ve tried but our carrots were really tiny and some grew into one another making it look really deformed.

    #235
  6. Kerry Manahan

    Hello:

    I happened upon your website today. I was doing a search “carrots are not growing very big” on Google. I have grown carrots in my garden several times. I grow tomatoes, corn, zuchini, beans, cucumbers and have no problem. But….. my carrots never seem to come out ok.

    Currently right now the Green leafy part of the carrots are about 1-foot tall. I picked one yesterday and the carrot was about one inch long and less than a 1/4 of and inch wide. Just so you know the following:

    Grown from Seeds – Burpee Sweet Treat Hybrid (Zanahoria)

    Soil- I now live in Georgia. Soil is brown, and has been mixed with material from Lowes / Home Depot so the soil is soft and appears nice and rich and brown. It is in a 4-5foot long section with only Radishes on the left side. The right side is at the end of the planter with a 6 x6 timber.

    The plants are about 3 inches apart and I only have two rows and the rows are about 12 inches apart. I was just curious if you had any ideas. I have 3 little kids and we picked one yesterday and it was small and kinda disappointing.

    I used to live in Carrollton, Texas in the Dallas area and also up in Oklahoma in several places. My wife and kids and I live in Georgia now. I had been back and forth traveling to Oklahoma and Texas trying to get back into the oil field and prices fell. The company Bronco Drilling that I was with had layoffs, so I came back to Georgia.

    Thanks for any advice that you have,

    Kerry Manahan

    #253
  7. Lara DeHaven

    Well, Kerry, it sounds like you are doing just about everything you can in order to get good-sized carrots. You have well-cultivated and fertile soil. You have planted/thinned them a good distance from each other. The following are some ideas I have for you. First, carrots need about 70 days to mature. Secondly, carrots grow much better in cooler temperatures, which is why I have the best luck planting them in the fall here in Texas. Georgia is not that much more North. So, I would check to see if I am rushing the harvest. Then, I would plan to replant in the late summer for a fall garden. I hope these ideas help. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Lara

    #254
  8. susan

    i too am in texas, when do you plant for the fall? now? it seems so hot for carrots…

    #303
  9. Lara DeHaven

    Some say to plant mid-August; however, it is too hot for me to get out in over 100 degree heat to plant my garden. Last year I waited until mid-September. People began giving me a hard time trying to tell me that it was getting too late. But, it thrived. Occasionally when we got frost in the morning, everything did well. When the temperature did decide to have a hard freeze, we covered the plants with hay. My carrots did exceptionally well in the fall. Hope this helps, Lara

    #305
  10. Thanks for this information. By the way, this is a very nice blog I appreciate. For more %URL%

    #811
  11. I just stumbled onto your website and I love it! I planted carrots for the first time this Spring. I planted in late February, so I hope I will at least get some before it gets too hot. I’m in Central Texas, so it warms up pretty quick, much like the rest of Texas! I’ll definitely plant again for the fall in any case. I planted Danver’s Half Dwarf and Little Finger. Do you think they are good varieties for my area?

    Thank you for all of your tips! We’ve started an urban homestead, so I am enjoying your blog for all of its information! We’re raising chickens, rabbits and quail, and are gardening organically.

    #903
  12. Christine

    Hello, I am from MA, where we do not plant much for fall or winter. What can I plant in Sept ???

    #2137
  13. North

    I have tried carrots 2 years now, first year was a dud, not even the green tops came threw and nothing grew. This year I tryed useing good top soil and the green tops are about 1′ tall and very full but the root is only 2-3″ and very week looking. Im going to try one more time by tilling alot deeper like you suggested. I realy like carrots and would like to get some to grow.

    #2217
  14. Lara DeHaven

    North,
    Keep trying. Do you thin out your carrots? The more room you give the root (carrot) to grow, the bigger the vegetable you will get. If they are crowding each other, the carrots will not form long and straight. Just a thought.
    Don’t give up. It sounds like you made big improvement from last year.
    Lara

    #2219
  15. BILL GUZARDO

    I am in Central Texas. I have never planted carrots. I’m raising vegetables for a ministry that feeds
    the needy. I thought I will try carrots this year. I tilled in peat moss, 1 cubic foot per 10 row feet. I have
    good soil and tilled deep. My concern is that at this time the temperature is getting up to 100 by 1:00 p.m.
    Do you think this will affect plant growth?

    Thank you.

    #2371
  16. Lara DeHaven

    Bill,
    This weather is severe and exceptional. Therefore, I am sure that the heat will in fact affect plant growth. What that effect will be? I don’t really know. I have the best luck with carrots in my fall garden on normal years. So, I would still plant them. It sounds like you have done everything you can and the rest will be up to God. You are doing a great thing, using your talents and hard work in this type of ministry. May God bless you in your endeavors.
    Lara

    #2374
  17. Kim Allsup

    we grew a two pound carrot in our school garden. We used lots of compost, steady watering, lots of space between carrots.

    #2561
  18. Lara DeHaven

    Wow! I bet the your students really enjoyed that accomplishment. Thank you for sharing your success.
    Lara

    #2564
  19. I live in east Texas and i’m planting carrots for the first time. How far apart do pant the seeds and when do i need to plant them for my spring garden?

    #2891
  20. Lara DeHaven

    Carrot seeds are very fine. I find them difficult to plant inches apart. So I make a shallow row about 1/4 ” deep. I take the seeds between my thumb and pointer finger and drop them as sparingly as possible along the row. After they begin growing, you can thin them out in order to give them room to grow big and not misshapen. I like to give the carrots an inch room. You can plant now if you are ready. You can plant again in early September/ late August, too.

    #2906
  21. Becky

    Lara, I have planted carrots in the sandy Panhandle of Tx and they practically grew themselves! I would pick big tender carrots until the ground froze, which was about late Jan-Feb. I planted carrots in a raised bed with nice organic soil at least 10 inches deep last Sept. I got NO yield in the fall and the tops were very small. However, they continued to grow with the mild winter. I’m getting small 2-3″ carrots now. After reading your information I will thin what is left and see how they turn out. Thank you!

    #3182
  22. Emily

    I’m seeing this kind of late as I was wondering if carrots could be planted in the fall in North Texas due to our mild winter. Any thoughts? Also, do you fertilize them at all?

    Thanks!

    #4089
  23. Lara DeHaven

    Emily,

    Plant those carrots. Our best carrots grow in the fall and winter. I do not fertilize them with synthetic fertilizer, but you can that is a personal decision. I will put some old chicken manure in the dirt and till it together really well. Give carrots room to grow is the best advice.
    Lara

    #4146

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