Monday , December 5 2022

Tips for growing carrots indoors

During much of his young life, my son carefully checked every food he put in his mouth.

You could also call this a picky meal. But one day he happened to want to eat carrots.

Even better, if I bought some colorful organic products from the supermarket, he would say: “Purple carrot?” one day and “yellow?” the next.

I’m just happy that he’s finally eating more vegetables. So happy that I decided to create my own indoor carrot garden.

I had tried to grow this delicious root vegetable the Umbellifer family the previous summer in my raised flower bed, but because of the rocky topsoil mixed into my outdoor soil mix, everyone turned out like this:

A vertical image of freshly harvested carrots with slightly deformed roots, covered with soil and with green foliage attached to them. In the background is blue sky and a house and a car in soft focus.
Photo by Laura Melchor.

Crooked and stunted.

I realized that if I grew carrots indoors, I could sow five to seven harvests a year if each harvest took about two to two and a half months to ripen. Or even more if I have decided to follow up in several containers.

I was really looking forward to offering my son a supply of home-grown vegetables – and getting him excited about gardening!

In this article I will tell you what I have learned so that you can start growing your own carrots.

Why grow indoors?

Aside from the joy of harvesting a year-round crop from your own indoor garden, why else would you grow these bright and sweet vegetables indoors?

When growing outdoors, these tasty roots often have difficulty pushing themselves through loose dirt, resulting in deformities.

Still, I was so proud of my deformed carrots grown outside in my garden for the first time since I moved to Alaska. But when I put one in my mouth, I got a bitter shock: they didn’t taste good.

A vertical closeup picture of freshly harvested carrots with soil and foliage still attached, placed on a wooden surface.
Photo by Laura Melchor.

When I look at the photo above, it looks like my carrots are a lot more loose in terms of tips than roots. Maybe there was too much nitrogen in the soil, which leads to an excess of leaf growth.

Or maybe there wasn’t enough potassium to support healthy root development.

Maybe the roots just wanted to thrive because of Alaska’s big heat wave this year, when the temperatures were constant at 90 ° F for ages.

As a reference, temperatures in Alaska usually don’t exceed 30 ° C in summer, and even that feels hot. Very few of us have air conditioning in their homes in the north. Exposure to constant hot temperatures may have caused the bitterness.

While the carrot, Daucus carota subsp. Sativus, can grow USDA hardiness zones 3-10, too much heat can make the roots bitter.

If you consider that daylight saving time in zone 10 can average 90 ° F, this means trouble for our colorful root vegetables. They would very much prefer to stay below 80 ° F, thank you very much, and they will protest bitterly when their nutrients and moisture are sucked away by the sun.

This is another plus when growing indoors: You can control the temperature and closely monitor the moisture content even in summer.

Four children in the garden pull carrots out of a raised bed and hold up the bright orange roots. In the background you can see a garden scene in soft focus.

Growing carrots indoors can also be beneficial in cold areas. Even if you live in Zone 2, you – and your children! – you can grow them indoors and enjoy healthy, garden-fresh snacks all year round.

To begin

The first thing you need to do is decide how much space you can devote to your indoor garden, as this determines two things:

  • The size of your container
  • The variety of carrots you choose

If you have little additional space, such as B. a spare window sill, you need a planter that fits comfortably, something rectangular and long.

It should be at least eight inches deep, or preferably 12 inches deep, with a base that is at least four inches wide.

Someone with more space can of course use a larger container and have a bigger harvest.

For my own indoor carrot garden, I chose an 8 inch deep, 24 inch long window box.

This fits well on a replacement box, under a growing lightand along with some other plants.

A close-up of three black pots with a long rectangular planter behind them on a small low wooden box with a green wall in the background.
Photo by Laura Melchor.

If you have enough space and light (if necessary), definitely choose a 10-inch or even 20-inch container.

A round 8 x 8 inch container would only fit about four ripe “standard” carrots. A ten by ten could fit five. A 24-inch window box can accommodate 12 people.

A close-up of a carrot growing indoors in a container with the root tip just visible above the bottom line and green foliage in the soft focus in the background.

Each container you choose should have a drain grille or holes in the bottom and a drain pan underneath.

Read more in our full guide to Grow carrots in containers.

Find the best variety

Regardless of what type of space you have or what container size you choose, there is a variety that suits your needs.

Let’s take a look at some of the smaller varieties that are perfect for indoor growing due to their shorter roots.

Chantenay Red Cored

Chantenay Red Cored is an heirloom variety that is 5 to 6 inches long and is perfect for containers 8 inches deep.

Plant seeds 5 cm apart so that they can grow round and succulent. With a golden orange color and an extra sweet taste, this carrot will make you smile.

A close-up of & # 39; Chantenay Red Core & # 39; carrots with short, blunt roots and green foliage still attached on a wooden surface.

“Chantenay Red Cored”

Chantenay Red Cored is originally from the French region of Chantenay and was first introduced by Ferry-Morse in 1930. It has – as you guessed it – a reddish core and ripens in 70 days.

Seeds are available in different pack sizes by Eden Brothers.

Danvers

“Danvers” is ideal for 10 inch deep containers and is 7 to 8 inches long. This is an excellent choice for those who prefer long, lean carrots over short, dull ones.

A close-up of a basket with the carrot variety & # 39; Danvers 126 & # 39; whose orange roots have been cleaned and the leaves are still attached.

“Danvers”

This type, developed in Danvers, Massachusetts in 1870, grows well on relatively flat soils and delivers a timeless carrot-like crunch. Sow seeds 5 cm apart and harvest 75 days after planting.

There are seeds in packages of various sizes available from Eden Brothers.

Pinkie finger

These tiny treats only grow 3 to 4 inches long, so you can grow dozens of them in a wide, 8-inch deep rectangular planter.

This sweet and juicy variety tastes delicious, whether it’s pickled, canned or fresh, alone or dipped in your favorite sauce.

A close-up of & # 39; Little Finger & # 39; carrots, freshly harvested and cleaned, with foliage still attached, on a wooden surface, with the background fading to soft focus.

& # 39; little finger & # 39;

“Little finger” is about the size of a finger when mature, but no less beautiful for its small stature. Sow two inches apart to create plenty of room for healthy root growth.

Ripening in just 65 days, you will find “Little Finger” seeds in packages of various sizes at Eden Brothers.

Royal Chantenay

Royal Chantenay comes from “Red Cored Chantenay” and was released in 1952 by the Northrup King Seed Company. It is rounder with blunt edges.

It’s another cute strain that kids are sure to love, and even better? It offers a reliable, high yield.

A close-up of small, stocky & # 39; Royal Chantenay & # 39; carrots cleaned with the foliage still attached and placed on a wooden surface.

“Royal Chantenay”

Sow two inches apart to make room for this plump cylindrical growth. The roots are only 5 to 6 inches long, so this strain is ideal for containers of any size.

Find seed packets in different sizes at Eden Brothers and watch your carrots ripen in 70 days.

Sweet Treat Hybrid

A few summers ago, my neighbors here in Alaska generously shared tons of their garden products with me. One day they brought home carrots and peas that I had sliced ​​and peeled, and I sautéed them together in butter.

The end result tasted of candy. Since then it has been my goal to grow such sweet carrots. That’s why I chose this strain, “Sweet Treat Hybrid”, which promises to be as sugary as a lollipop.

“Sweet Treat Hybrid”

Since the roots are six inches long, I planted them in my 12-inch deep container and am looking forward to their ripening in another month. They ripen in 70 days and, like most varieties, must be sown two inches apart.

Get your packet of 600 seeds from Jays Seeds via Amazon.

How to multiply

Now it’s time to grow. You will need your chosen container and seeds along with:

  • Loose, well-drained potting soil.
  • A low nitrogen fertilizer like 5-10-10 or 4-10-10
  • A growing light if you have no window or area that provides at least six hours of sunlight

You are welcome to try starting your seeds in bowls, but it can be easier to just start them in containers. However, this is the method I used. See the next section of the article for more information.

A vertical image of carrots growing in dark, rich soil with the tops of the orange roots just visible and green foliage fading to blur in the background.

Starting your indoor carrot seeds directly in pots can give them an extra crack, as their tender roots don’t like to be disturbed and they don’t respond well to transplanting.

First fill your container with potting soil and a 4-10-10 or 5-10-10 fertilizer. Follow the directions on the package to determine how much to use, as it depends on the size of your container.

Make 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep holes two inches apart – Check your seed pack for the recommended planting depth of your chosen variety. Drop two to three seeds into each hole, lightly cover them with soil and spray them with water. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate.

Place your container in a sunny place or under a growing light. The seeds should germinate in 14-17 days, but some can take up to 21 days.

If the seedlings are 1 to 2 inches tall, check which are the most robust and greenest. Dilute the weaker extras with sharp scissors so that only the strong seedlings remain, which are every two inches apart.

A close-up of the scissors from the left side of the frame that cuts small seedlings that grow in a long rectangular container.
Photo by Laura Melchor.

Soon the first real leaves will appear and your plants will look a bit like praying mantises.

This root vegetable needs moist soil that is not soaked. Pour deep, pour slowly over the plants and let them soak completely.

It is important to ensure that the roots get the moisture they need.

Give your young plants at least six hours of sunlight (or an artificial equivalent) every day.

Seed pods

Although these roots don’t like to be moved, I chose the seed bowl because I hadn’t bought a container big enough to be planted at the beginning.

A close-up of a green plastic seed bowl with a plastic moisture top and white label on a soft focus background with a colorful ceramic pot to the left of the frame.
Photo by Laura Melchor.

I have the feeling that a covered seed coat can help the seeds germinate faster – the additional humidity helps a lot.

Fill each cell with potting soil, and then make 1/8 to 1/4 inch divots in each cell. Drop two or three tiny carrot seeds into each divot, lightly cover them with soil and spray them with water so as not to dislodge the seeds.

Germination can take up to three weeks, but I found that the seeds germinated in just six days by storing them in their mini greenhouse and placing them under a growing light.

If you do not use growth light before germination or put it in a sunny window, you should do so as soon as green shoots appear.

A close-up of a green plastic bowl with tiny seedlings emerging from the ground, with a metal watering can to the right of the frame, on a green background.
Photo by Laura Melchor.

I still had to learn my lesson on growing lights and legginess when I planted my carrots indoors. So, like mine Rhubarb from containersMy greens were a bit “leggy”.

If you’re using a growing light, you need to make sure it’s about two to three inches away from your freshly sprouted seedlings. The recommended distance may vary depending on the type and strength of the light used.

I didn’t do that.

Also make sure that your growing light provides full spectrum white light or a mixture of red and blue light to allow healthy growth.

Using an LED growth light is ideal because it does not give off as much heat as most fluorescent lamps. Bringing a heat-emitting light too close to your plants can overheat the leaves and cause them to wither.

A close-up of seedlings in a bowl that just emerges through the ground on a soft focus background.
Photo by Laura Melchor.

My seedlings grew tall and thin because they were approaching the charming glow of the growing light.

This later caused problems. (For more information on “leggy” carrot tops, see below.)

Not only should you make sure they have enough light, but also pour your seed pods slowly and deeply when you start to see green tips.

Transplant seedlings

If you start your seedlings in bowls or peat pots, transplant them when you see two or three lacy, carrot-like leaves.

Prepare your container in the same way as I described above to plant it directly in containers by filling it with potting soil and this 5-10-10 or 4-10-10 fertilizer.

A hand from the left side of the frame holds a potting pyrex jug that fills a long rectangular container on a soft focus background.
Photo by Laura Melchor.

Follow the directions on the fertilizer package to see how much needs to be added to the soil. This also depends on the size of your container. Make sure you mix the fertilizer well into the soil.

You want to place your seedlings two inches apart in your container. Dig each hole the size of the root ball of the seedling you are grafting.

A close-up of a long rectangular potting soil container with holes for planting seedlings. At the bottom of the frame is a seedling shell that is ready for transplanting.
Photo by Laura Melchor.

Spray the seedlings with water and let them work for a few minutes so that the plants are easier to handle. Then let the seedlings pop out and carefully place them in a planting hole.

If you use peat potsDip them in water first to make them nice and mushy. When you transfer them into the holes, work the peat until it breaks apart. This helps prevent the pots from inhibiting root growth.

Put the soil back around the seedlings and pour it well, pour it slowly and let everything soak deep into the soil.

Put your container back under the light of growth or in a sunny place and watch your little shoots grow.

Grow carrots indoors

There are some important things to keep in mind when taking care of your indoor carrot garden. All of this is critical not only when starting seeds, but throughout the life of your plants.

irrigation

First of all, you need to be vigilant when watering. While most roots need about two inches a week, your indoor garden may need more.

A close-up of the green foliage of young carrot seedlings growing in the garden in bright sunshine and fading to soft focus in the background.

I have found that the heating system in my house dries out the dirt in all my houseplants very quickly, so I actually water my carrot garden every two days.

If you notice that the potting soil looks dry at the top or comes off the edges of the container, add an inch of water to your plants. You can feel an inch into the ground with your finger. When it is dry, your plants need to be watered.

fertilizer

It is also important that your plants are well fed. If the seedlings are about three inches tall or have three or more real leaves, give them some more of this low-nitrogen fertilizer.

Carefully incorporate half a teaspoon of fertilizer into the area around the top of the carrot and stir in well. Water the plant when you are done. You want to do this every three weeks.

light

One problem to watch out for when growing indoors is floppy tops.

Long-legged floppy tops weren’t a problem for me when I planted carrots outside under the warm, never-ending Alaskan summer sun.

A vertical close-up picture of carrots ready for harvest. The orange roots push through the ground with green foliage in the background.

But growth lights don’t like the sun. You need to be close to the plants you grow to work effectively.

The next time I sow carrots indoors, I will keep the lights two to three inches from my seedlings instead of five to six inches. Now that my seedlings continue to grow, I adjust the lights so that they’re always only a few inches away.

And I’ve learned a few tricks to strengthen leggy seedlings that you can try too:

After setting your growing light to be close to the tops of your plants, make sure to leave it on for six to eight hours every day.

Second, bring a fan into the room for a few hours a day. Set the fan in the lowest and most gentle setting a few meters from the seedlings.

They are trying to imitate the wind, which sends a signal to the plant that it needs to grow a thicker stem.

A close-up of a fan installed above crops in a greenhouse to ensure airflow. The background is soft focus windows.

For similar reasons, it can also be helpful to lightly run your fingers over the plants a few times a day.

Finally, try to gather additional soil around your stems to support them. Just be careful not to cover the cotyledons or real leaves.

Here’s why all of this is important: Legginess leads to weaker stems that are too thin to support themselves. Young, weak seedlings are more prone to damping, a fungal infection that often occurs in seeds and occurs indoors. We’ll talk more about that in a moment.

So it is worthwhile to strengthen your leggy shoots in every possible way.

Succession planting

It won’t be long before you pull juicy carrots out of your back yard!

But what if you crave an even bigger harvest? If there is room for it, wait about a month after starting your first batch of seeds and then plant another container. This way, as soon as your first harvest disappears in your fridge, you can harvest another one.

Or when your carrots are around 45 to 50 days in growth, plant more seeds directly in the same container between the carrots you will be harvesting. These new seeds should be planted about an inch from the ripening plants.

When they germinate and grow roots, you harvest the ripe carrots and can plant more seeds in their place.

Just make sure to fertilize the soil before each new planting to make sure it doesn’t get exhausted. Remove about half of the old potting soil every two plantings and add new soil so that you continue to create a healthy, nutrient-rich environment for your container garden.

You will too have to harvest very carefully, so as not to disturb the roots of your first harvest that are already developing.

Keep this sequence indoors year-round if you want – because you can!

Growth tips

  • Choose a variety that fits comfortably in your chosen container and growing space
  • Make sure your growing lights are close enough to the seedlings – usually 3 to 5 inches for small housing units
  • Ensure even moisture, but do not let the containers get wet

Dealing with pests and diseases

Since you grow your carrots indoors, the only disease you really need to worry about is a possible fungal infection or steaming.

If your seedlings suddenly wither for no apparent reason, you can probably blame the damping. Stems often have a water-stained base and fall sadly to the ground.

A close-up of seedlings affected by damping on a slimy soil background.
Seedlings affected by damping.

Caused by the mushrooms Fusarium, Phytophthora, python, or RhizoctoniaIt is impossible to treat the cushioning once it starts. It spreads quickly and wipes out all of your valuable seedlings.

See ours Damping instructions to learn more.

To avoid this, you should:

  • Space seeds two inches apart and thin after germination
  • Remove the moisture covers as soon as they germinate to avoid excessively humid conditions
  • Make sure the soil is loose and well drained
  • Ensure good airflow with a fan at the lowest level

If a tray gets overtaken by a fungal disease, empty it, clean and disinfect it, fill it with new soil and seeds, and try again.

harvest

These roots have a clear and easy way to say they’re ready to pull: they show off their pretty orange shoulders.

A close-up of carrots growing in rich soil with the tips of the orange roots visible above the ground and the green foliage softly focused.

If the tips don’t pop out of the ground after the number of days your seed packs indicate that they should be ready, scratch your finger over the base of the petiole. If you see a plump looking carrot just below the surface, it means it’s ready.

The shoulders are around half an inch to one and a half inches depending on the variety.

Grasp the top of the carrot firmly with your thumb down at the base just above the root and gently pull the carrot out of the ground.

A vertical close-up image of a hand from the left side of the frame pulling carrots out of the ground in bright sunshine on a soft focus background.

If you want delicate, tiny roots, you can of course harvest them earlier than the number of days specified on your seed pack until they mature.

Spring carrots (or “baby” carrots, which are different from the baby carrots in the store, which are actually ripe carrots that have been cut to remove damaged parts) are about the length and width of your finger for most varieties.

A close-up of a bunch of harvested and cleaned carrots on a wooden surface with green foliage still attached to them.

You can also grow plants that you, as babies, want to harvest about a inch apart for a larger crop because they don’t need to grow that big.

If you are growing a smaller variety, it is not worth harvesting early because the finished product will be so small even when ripe. I recommend waiting for them to reach their full size before harvesting.

A year-round celebration of sugary roots

If you grow carrots indoors, nothing prevents you from enjoying the sugary prickles all year round.

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