Ever wanted to grow carrots but felt that your allotment or garden was too small? Or maybe all you have to work with is a sunny porch? Well, believe it or not, carrots are super easy to grow in containers, and if you’re like us, you’ll be able to get a harvest all year round!
- 6-9 litre planting pots
(These are especially easy to get from March-June if you have a Morrison’s close to you. They sell discarded flower buckets for less than £1 per 10 or 20 buckets!)
- gravel or chippings
- multi-purpose compost
- sharp sand
- seed compost
- fresh carrot seed
How to Set Up Your Pots
- Once you have your 6-9 litre flower pots handy, check to see if they have drainage holes at the bottom. If they don’t, you’ll need to drill a few holes to make sure the water drains well.
- Next, lay a thin layer of gravel or chippings at the bottom of your flower bucket. This will help the drainage and prevent the holes from getting clogged.
- Mix your favourite multi-purpose compost together with the sharp sand at a 50-50 ratio (half compost and half sand). Add this mixture to the flower bucket leaving 4 inches or so from the top. (The sand not only helps with drainage, it makes the soil nice and light so your carrots can grow straight.)
- Add a thin layer of seed compost about an inch thick to the top of your sand-compost mixture. (This compost is ideal for seed sprouting.)
- Now it’s time to add your seed. Choose a variety that is small and suitable for container growing. We like to plant Chantenay Red Core because it’s a smaller carrot and needs next to no looking after. After July we usually switch Amsterdam Forcing, a closer-loving carrot. Place 20-30 seeds on top of your compost. You can sow more or less, but we like to sow more just to allow for germination failure. It also let’s us thin out the weaker carrots seedlings. You can also use this method with Parsnips and Salsify for hasttle free growing.
- Cover with another thin layer of seed compost.
- Water and keep moist until the seeds germinate.
Tips and Tricks
Sowing in Succession
How many carrots you’ll need to sow really depends on how many you eat—we sow two of these buckets every week, which gives us a decent carrot supply from July onwards for the rest of the year. Keep the carrots well watered and in the buckets until you need them, but this should give you enough carrots to last a week without having too much of a glut in one go.
To extend your planting season, be sure to protect your carrots at the beginning and end of the year by moving them into a greenhouse or polytunnel. They will do well with a bit of frost (carrots taste sweeter once the frost hits them), but containers freeze much ‘harder’ than the ground and your carrots will need to be protected from any heavy freezes.
Also, once August and September come around the ugly carrot fly shows it’s face. The easiest way to avoid carrot fly damage is to leave your carrots undisturbed (the carrot fly is drawn to carrots once you start harvesting them). You can harvest a full bucket full at once, but make sure you don’t dip into multiple buckets at once. Also, if the carrot fly is prevalent in your area, you can net your buckets to keep the carrot fly out.
Again to avoid the carrot fly moving later sowings of carrots under cover or to your grenhouse / polytunnel will help deter the carrot fly however just be aware that under glass the carrots will require more water.
Growing Carrots all Year Round
If you have a way to heat and light your carrots, you’ll be able to grow them all year round. We use a few LED day light bulbs and a small heater to keep ours going. If you don’t have access to any lighting growing switching to a carrot variety such as Autumn King 2 and making your sowings no later than Mid September will give you a crop towards the start of spring. Start sowing in buckets every week from March – September 15th
Overall, we love growing our carrots in containers. It’s not only a simple, hassle-free method, it frees up the ground for other crops. You can even try growing parsnips and other root vegetables this. Try it out and let us know how it goes! And not just Carrots this works well with Parsnips and Salsify.