by Jennifer Poindexter
Have you ever tried growing carrots? In my personal experience, I’ve found that growing carrots in containers is much easier than growing them in the ground.
If you like growing carrots in containers, or are interested in giving it a try, why not try growing them indoors? You’ll have a fresh supply of veggies year-round. If you’re interested in growing carrots inside your home, here’s what you should know.
What You Might Need to Grow Carrots Indoors
When growing carrots indoors, you’re going to need a container with adequate depth. I’ll discuss this in greater detail in the next section, but the depth of your container will determine the variety of carrot you grow in your indoor gardening area.
You’ll also need grow lights in most cases. I, personally, don’t purchase actual grow lights because they’re costly.
Instead, my husband and I use shop lights. They’re more affordable and seem to do an adequate job at providing plant lighting.
They also come with chains, meant to suspend them from rafters. I use these to attach them to our grow rack. It allows me to lower and raise the lights as the plants grow.
The final thing you might need when raising carrots indoors is a grow rack. We purchased a metal pantry rack from our local home improvement store.
However, if you don’t want to purchase a rack, you can use a table and hang a shelf over it. This will still give you a place to hang your lights.
You could also use an old trunk or any other flat surface which would adequately support your plants.
Invest in these few minor items, and you should be all set to grow carrots inside your home anytime of year.
Growing Conditions for Growing Carrots Indoors
Carrots are versatile plants. They grow well in planting zones three through ten and prefer temperatures that are 80-degrees Fahrenheit or less.
When growing carrots indoors, they must be grown in containers. The amount of space you have for containers will determine how many carrots you can grow and which varieties you choose.
If you have smaller containers and less growing area, you’ll need to plant less and choose smaller carrot varieties.
However, if there’s room for large containers you could choose a larger carrot variety. When considering containers, they should be at least eight inches deep. A foot deep would match the growing conditions most carrots receive when planted in the ground outdoors.
The most important thing to take into consideration when choosing an adequate growing container is to choose one which drains well. Many indoor gardeners use window boxes or large planters for growing carrots indoors.
Once your container is picked out, it’s time to discuss soil. Choose soil that’s loose and will drain properly. If drainage is a concern, add more sand to the mix to help cure this problem.
The last item you must consider when creating proper growing conditions for indoor carrots is lighting. Carrots will need six or more hours of sunlight. If you can’t provide this, grow the carrots under grow lights full-time or use grow lights as a supplement.
Creating the proper grow space is, perhaps, the most important element to raising carrots indoors.
How to Plant Carrots Indoors
The first step to growing carrots indoors is to place well-draining soil inside your chosen containers. Add a low-nitrogen fertilizer to the soil at the same time.
After your soil is prepared, it’s time to add the seeds. You’ll direct sow the seeds because carrot roots don’t like being disturbed once planted.
Place the seeds ¼ inch deep into the soil and cover lightly. Carrot seeds are tiny. It’s recommended to dig small trenches, at the appropriate depth, and sprinkle the seeds along the trench.
Cover them lightly with soil. Keep the soil moist during germination. The water helps to break down the protective coating surrounding the seed and makes germination easier and more successful.
It should take approximately two to three weeks for the seeds to germinate. When they’re two inches tall, use scissors to thin the seeds.
You’ll want two inches of spacing between each plant. Using scissors is more effective because it’ll help you avoid damaging the roots of the carrot plants you’d like to keep.
Place the carrots under the grow lights or in a sunny window. Now, you’re ready to learn how to care for your growing plants.
How to Care for Carrots Indoors
Carrots have a few basic needs. The first of these needs is water. Once the carrots have become established, it’s wise to use the deep watering method.
You’ll apply more water to your crops fewer days of the week. Carrots need two to three inches of water each week.
The best way to tell if they’re in need of water is by using the knuckle test. Insert your finger into the soil next to your plants. If the soil is dry to the first knuckle, it’s time to add more water. If not, hold off on watering.
Fertilizing your carrots is another important step in caring for them. When the carrots reach approximately three inches in height, it’s time to begin fertilizing them with a low-nitrogen, high-phosphate fertilizer.
You’ll do this one time per month until they’re ready to harvest. The low-nitrogen is to ensure you don’t end up with bushy tops and no roots. The higher phosphate will support the roots. In this case, it’s the carrot itself.
Grow lights are important when raising carrots. In the event you can’t provide enough sunlight naturally, you may need to grow your plants completely under grow lights or supplement lighting with grow lights.
Either way, when using grow lights, ensure they remain about three inches above your plants. This will discourage your plants from becoming lanky. They won’t need to stretch to reach the lighting.
As your plants grow, be sure to move the grow lights with the plants but always maintain the three inch distance.
Finally, you must help your carrots become stronger when growing indoors. They don’t have the wind to encourage them to grow tougher stems.
In this case, you should rub your hands over the tops of your plants once or twice per day. This will send a message to your carrots to produce stronger stems.
This is important because if the stems aren’t strong, your plants won’t be either. You can also mound soil around the base of the carrot to provide extra support to the stem.
One final tip when growing and caring for carrots is succession planting. If you’d like an on-going supply of fresh carrots, plant new carrots approximately one time per month.
During each planting, remove half of the potting mix and add fresh. Every two plantings, completely dump the potting mix and replace all of it. This will ensure the nutrients your carrots need are always in the soil.
Caring for carrots indoors may have a few extra steps, but it’s worth the added effort to have delicious carrots year-round.
Pests and Diseases Which Could Impact Carrots Indoors
When growing carrots indoors, you don’t deal with all the problems you may encounter outside. The biggest issues which can occur are fungal problems, such as downy mildew, or damping off.
Damping off impacts small plants which remain too wet for too long. It’s technically a fungal disease. Once your plants contract it, there’s no saving them.
The best thing to do is to avoid overwatering your new plants. You can set the containers your carrots are growing in, inside a tray with water.
This will allow the plants to absorb moisture from below. Therefore, you can avoid adding too much water at any given time.
You can also sprinkle cinnamon over your soil. This is thought to help fight any fungal diseases which might impact your smaller plants.
Other fungal issues may occur because they were living in the soil prior to your planting. If you water too heavy and the soil reaches your plants, they can become infected with the fungus.
The best thing to do to avoid fungal diseases is heat your soil prior to planting. This will kill off anything living in it.
You should also avoid overwatering your plants and ensure proper spacing between plants when planting. This will avoid creating a breeding ground for fungus.
By being aware of these potential problems, you’re giving your carrots a greater chance to thrive.
How to Harvest Carrots
Harvesting carrots isn’t a difficult process. When the carrots, the actual root, is sticking out of the soil approximately a ½ inch, they’re ready to harvest.
Pull the carrots out of the soil and brush the dirt from them. You can wash them and enjoy them immediately, but there are also other ways to store carrots.
They can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks, in most cases. You can chop them, blanche them, and freeze them.
Carrots can also be preserved by canning, or you can store them in a root cellar. Be sure to store them with sawdust or straw between layers of carrots to avoid rot.
Growing carrots indoors isn’t a complicated process. There are a few more steps than what you’d have if growing them outdoors.
However, in the end, you should have a beautiful carrot harvest and not have as many pests or diseases to battle with. Hopefully this will encourage you to try your hand at raising carrots indoors.