January 29, 2016
Growing Organic Carrots
Celeste Longacre

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I love carrots. I put them in soups, stews and stir-fries, I cut them up for dips and I juice them for delicious drinks.

I do find, however, that carrots are one of the hardest vegetables to grow. I plant them early (they don’t mind a bit of frost). I put them into rows several inches apart and cover the seeds with a bit of dirt. Then, I babysit them. Carrots take ten to fourteen days to germinate and they live for all this time in the top ¼ inch of the soil. This MUST NOT dry out at any point during this time or the seeds will die. Since our garden is composed of raised beds, this is an arduous task. On a warm, sunny, windy day, I have been known to water the carrots four or five times in one day.

Once the carrots pop up, life becomes a bit easier.

They will send a root down deep and the watering becomes a bit less of an issue. We still can’t let them dry out, but they have a much bigger well from which to choose their liquid.

As they grow, we need to make sure that they have enough room.

I generally thin them slowly as first the chickens get to eat the tiny ones, then—by the time they are as big as my little finger—I start to put them into meals. It’s important to give them the room that they need; otherwise, at harvest there are hundreds of teensy-tiny carrots which won’t keep too well in the root cellar.

There is a weed that often grows in my garden which is one that I like. It’s called purslane and it’s a quick grower. I leave this weed where the carrots are thin until it is edible. Here’s a picture of a perfect purslane ready for harvest.

You want to get the purslane before it flowers for best taste. Also—they have a tendency to hold onto their dirt so they have to be well washed. You can steam them and eat them with butter or juice them. Yum!

Since I put many carrots into the root cellar, I have them year-round from the garden. I must say that I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t really like carrots from other sources…very spoiled!

About This Blog

Celeste Longacre has been growing virtually all of her family’s vegetables for the entire year for over 30 years. She cans, she freezes, she dries, she ferments & she root cellars. She also has chickens. Celeste has also enjoyed a longtime relationship with The Old Farmer’s Almanac as their astrologer and gardens by the Moon. Her new book, “Celeste’s Garden Delights,” is now available! Celeste Longacre does a lot of teaching out of her home and garden in the summer. Visit her web site at for details.

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pest in carrot plot causing a trench 1" long and 1/4" deep.

Occurs later in the season. When harvested this damage is obvious.

Can you grow "tendersweet"

Can you grow "tendersweet" carrots in large containers? If so what type of soil is recommended? Any tips? What do you think the outcome of container carrots would be? Please help I would like to grow them in a container in which I dont have room for them anywhere.

Hi Lovetogardenwithdad, I'm

Hi Lovetogardenwithdad,

I'm not familiar with that type of carrot. Most do, however, like soil that is nice and humousy and loose. Also--carrots are hard to germinate as they take up to 14 days to do so and you need to keep the very top of the soil wet during this time. I'm sure that it's possible, so good luck!

After harvesting.... should

After harvesting.... should the greens be removed.... and why? Thank you

Yes, remove the carrot tops

The Editors's picture

Yes, remove the carrot tops after harvest. There are several reasons but the biggest reason is because carrots with tops left on will not store as long.

I was told when greens are

I was told when greens are left on they continue to take what they need to keep alive from the carrots. That means the good part of the carrots are becoming less and less. I would like a list of why taking the greens off are benefical. Thanks a lot for your help. Louise

Hi Louise, It is beneficial

Hi Louise,

It is beneficial to take the greens off of the carrots when storing them because they do take away from the carrots themselves. However, these greens can be added to soup, especially when you are making stock.

thank you.... SO SO MUCH for

thank you.... SO SO MUCH for all your help. love this site.... and glad I found it.
Looking forward to learning as I grow up haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

i try growing carrots im in

i try growing carrots im in grenada in the caribbean i always have problems how important is drainage because we get alot of rain

Do you eat the root or the

Do you eat the root or the greens of the purslane? I have a ton of it in our garden!

Hi Cheryl, I eat the greens

Hi Cheryl,
I eat the greens (and the part that's red, too)! I don't eat the root.

My carrots tend to form

My carrots tend to form several small roots instead of one large one. I have made sure the ground is loosened deeply, kept manure out of the beds, watered regularly but they still do this. Any suggestions?

Hi BC, I suspect that there

Hi BC,
I suspect that there is too much nitrogen in the soil. Carrots need more potassium and phosphorus. You could try adding a small amount of sifted wood ashes as they are very high in potassium.

How deep does the soil need

How deep does the soil need to be for planting carrots?

Hi Swoozie814, Carrots do

Hi Swoozie814,
Carrots do need some pretty deep soil to grow the long ones. However, there are shorter, stubbier varieties that can be planted in shallow beds. Check the garden cataloges for listings.

Very good article I'm a

Very good article I'm a carrot fan and didn't realize how tedious the process is. I look forward to putting your tips to the test.

I'd love to see more about

I'd love to see more about the root cellar...!! it looks amazing

Hi Irene, One of the first

Hi Irene,
One of the first posts I wrote for this blog is all about root cellars. Go up to the Gardening tab & click on the "In the Garden" tab. You'll find it on page 2.

Thanks for this post. It was

Thanks for this post. It was encouraging. My girls and I are going to try and grow some this year without them being bitter.

your girls, or your carrots

your girls, or your carrots (i cannot be the only one wondering...)

Hi Theresa, Carrots need a

Hi Theresa,
Carrots need a light, fluffy soil with a lot of nutrients and water. When I weed, I also use my garden fork to loosen the soil around them so that it's easy for them to grow. My carrots have never been bitter.


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