Carrots produce long, edible roots that are consumed both cooked and raw. While carrots take up very little space in the garden, you must plant a lot of them as each plant only produces a single carrot. Carrot seeds are slow to germinate, taking up to three weeks in many cases. They may quickly be choked out by weeds if direct-seeded in the garden. Starting the seeds indoors for later transplanting prevents this. You may also continue to grow the plants indoors until they reach maturity if you don't have space for an outdoor garden.
Fill a seed-starting flat with a lightweight, well-draining potting soil. Use a 12-inch-deep flower pot instead of a flat if you plan to grow the carrots to maturity indoors.
Sprinkle the carrot seeds sparingly on top of the soil. Sow approximately two carrot seeds per inch, but the seeds are small and fine so some overseeding is expected.
Cover the seeds with ¼ inch of soil, then water the soil until it is evenly moist. Cover the flat or pot with a plastic bag, which retains the moisture in the soil during the germination period.
Place the flat in a warm room to germinate. Water the soil to moisten if it begins to dry or if the condensation inside the bag disappears. Seeds sprout within 14 to 21 days in most cases.
Remove the bag once the carrots sprout. Move the flat to a warm, sunny window sill and water when the soil surface begins to feel dry. Transplant flat-grown carrots outside once they produce their third set of leaves.
Thin the seedlings in the pot once their first set of leaves fully opens. Pluck out the extra seedlings so that the remaining carrots are spaced approximately 2 inches apart in all directions.
Fertilize the carrots once a week, beginning when the plants are two weeks old. Apply a soluble vegetable fertilizer at ¼ the label recommended rate.
Water the pot when the top 1 inch of soil begins to dry out. Water from the top until the excess moisture drains from the bottom of the pot. Irrigate at the base of the plants, taking care not to wet the foliage as that can lead to fungal problems.
Harvest the carrots when the roots reach the desired size. The University of Illinois advises that fingerling carrots are ready for harvesting within 50 to 60 days of germinating, while other carrot types take up to 70 days to reach maturity. The seed packet details the specific harvest date for the carrot variety.
About this Author
Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.