How to Grow Carrot Seeds
Planting carrots in the home garden requires a bit of patience, as the tiny seeds may not germinate for two weeks or more. Once seeds germinate, tiny carrots grow quickly, producing slender, pale roots that thicken and deepen in color as they mature. Some varieties mature in as few as 50 days, but many require 75 to 90 days to reach maturity. Young carrots can be harvested and eaten fresh, as soon as the roots swell. Allowing carrots to fully mature in the garden provides plump carrots bursting with flavor.
Prepare a garden bed in a sunny location as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. Till to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. Break up clods of dirt, and remove rocks or other debris. Rake the area smooth.
Test the soil to determine the pH level. An inexpensive soil test from your local hardware store will assess the pH level and provide recommendations for adjusting the pH. Follow the directions to adjust the pH to 6.0 to 6.8.
Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of well-rotted manure or compost over the soil. Work it into the existing soil with a garden tiller or hand tools. This improves the texture of the soil and provides slow-release nutrients.
Mark rows, spacing them 12 to 18 inches apart. Make a shallow trench down the center of the row with the edge of the hoe blade. Apply 5-10-10 fertilizer following the recommended application rate on the container. Work fertilizer into the existing soil with the hoe.
Plant carrot seeds to a depth of 1/4 inch, spaced 2 inches apart. Cover lightly with soil and firm down with your hands. Water with the mist attachment to your garden hose to moisten the soil. Keep the soil moist until seedlings emerge in seven to 21 days, depending on the soil temperature and weather conditions.
Mulch the shoulders of carrots with grass clipping or other organic mulch when the shoulders appear above the soil level. This prevents the shoulders of carrots from turning green when exposed to sunlight. Organic mulch also helps retain moisture and keeps the soil cool.
Water to moisten the soil to the root level once a week.
Mix radish seeds with carrot seed before planting. Radishes germinate quickly and "mark the row" until carrot seedlings emerge.