QUESTION: How big do containers need to be to grow carrots? Can you grow carrots in a bucket? -Ted F.
ANSWER: Just about any type of carrot can grow in any type of container, but longer carrot varieties will need containers that are very deep and have straight sides. Old buckets, tubs, bins, just about anything that is deep and straight-sided can be used to grow carrots, as long as it can hold a good amount of soil and has an unobstructed drainage hole in the bottom. Five-gallon buckets are perfect for most carrot varieties, and each five-gallon bucket can house 10 carrot plants.
One thing to keep in mind when growing your vegetables in buckets, or any containers really, is that plants that are grown in containers will need more frequent watering than plants that are planted directly in the ground, as the soil in containers will dry out quicker than the soil in the ground. Begin watering your carrot plants daily, right after planting them. After the seedlings emerge, keep the soil moist, but not soggy, throughout the growing season. To check if your carrot plants need water, just dig about four inches into the soil. If it is dry all the way down to four inches, it is time to add water.
Whether you plan on growing your carrots in five-gallon buckets or another type of container, the care instructions are very similar. Follow these guidelines when growing carrots in five-gallon buckets:
- Use an electric drill or a hammer and nail to puncture holes in the bottom of each five-gallon bucket that you are going to use in the garden. Drill as many holes as you can in the bottom, spacing them out in three-inch intervals.
- Ask for excess buckets from local restaurants or purchase your own at a local hardware center. Most restaurants receive bulk food, like pickles, in five-gallon buckets. If they don’t have any extra on hand, perhaps they wouldn’t mind saving a few for you. Always use food grade buckets or buckets that you purchased new, never use buckets that were used to store toxic materials.
- Instead of leaving your buckets white, or whatever color they came as, you may want to spray paint them all one or multiple colors to brighten up your outdoor spaces. Painting your buckets will improve the look and feel of your garden areas.
- Line the bottom of your five-gallon buckets with two or three inches of gravel to improve drainage. Then fill up the rest of your buckets with a mixture of even parts peat moss, planting soil, and compost. Stir up the soil mediums with a garden fork until they are blended together evenly and leave a little bit of room at the top of the buckets to plant your carrots.
- Water your carrots regularly whenever the soil starts to dry out. Water daily during especially hot or dry periods. Though compost will provide a good amount of nutrients for your carrots to feed on during the growing season, liquid fertilizers can also be added once or twice during the season to augment the compost and boost the growth of your carrots.