When Is the Right Time to Plant Carrots? Find Out Based on Your Zone

<p>The Spruce / Sarah Lee</p>

The Spruce / Sarah Lee

Carrots are a staple in a cool-weather garden and are so easy to grow, whether they're planted outside in the ground or containers.

As a cool-season vegetable, carrots are best planted in the very early spring and fall—they will not thrive during hot weather. The right planting time is about 2-4 weeks before your last frost date.

Ahead, we dive into the exact planting times for carrots based on growing zone, plus some additional tips to have a bountiful harvest.

When Should You Plant Carrots?

Spring planting for carrots can be done as soon as the soil has thawed enough to loosen when worked, often two to four weeks before the last frost.

Carrots should be sown directly into the garden spot or container where they will continue to mature. Transplanting does not work well because of the long tap root that forms at germination to become the vegetable you harvest.

Fall planting should be done 10 to 12 weeks before the first hard frost.

<p>The Spruce / Sarah Lee</p>

The Spruce / Sarah Lee

Best Months to Plant Carrots Outside Based on Growing Zone

The USDA recently released a new Plant Hardiness Zone Map that reflects temperature changes to the climate in the United States. By establishing the growing zone where you are gardening, you will be more successful in crop and flower production.

Growing Zone

Spring Planting

Fall Planting

2a

Late April - July

 

2b

Late April - July

 

3a

Late April - July

 

3b

Late April - July

 

4a

April - June

 

4b

April - June

 

5a

Late March - July

 

5b

Late March - July

 

6a

March - July

 

6b

March - July

 

7a

Late January - March

Early August - September

7b

Late January - March

Early August - September

8a

February - March

August - September

8b

February - March

August - September

9a

January - February

October - December

9b

January - March

September - December

10a

January - February

October - December

10b

January - February

October - December

How to Plant Carrots

Once have determined your growing zone, carrot seeds can be sown directly into the garden soil or container. Stagger your planting times so you will have fresh carrots ready to harvest all during the growing season.

Planting Site

The garden soil should be loose and free of stones and debris. Sow the seeds no more than 1/4-inch deep and lightly cover with soil. Water the area with the gentlest stream possible, and keep it constantly moist until the seeds sprout. Germination can take 14-21 days.

Spacing

Because the seeds are tiny, it is almost impossible to space them well. Allow the plants to grow until they are one inch tall. Then, thin them out so they are 2 to 4 inches apart and don't compete for nutrients, moisture, and light. This will give you better, stronger carrots to harvest.

As they mature, the carrots may push up out of the soil. Hill some soil around the top to prevent sunburn that causes green shoulders.

<p>PhotoAlto/ Laurence Mouton / Getty Images</p>

PhotoAlto/ Laurence Mouton / Getty Images

Growing Carrots in Containers

Carrot seeds can be directly sown into containers by using potting soil for potted vegetables. The container should be at least 12 to 24 inches in diameter, and at least 12 inches deep.

Be sure that it has multiple drainage holes because container-grown carrots require more water than garden-grown but won't thrive in mushy soil.

Carefully sow a few seeds on top of the soil and cover lightly. Be sure to thin out the excess plants if they are crowded.

Select shorter finger-sized (two to three inches) or small round carrots, like 'Paris Market'. These will mature more quickly and grow straight and true in a container. Ideal cultivars include:

  • 'Atlas': Small spherical roots 1-2 in long; good for containers

  • 'Little Finger': Nantes type with 4 in long roots; small and sweet

<p>Dorling Kindersley/ Gary Ombler /Getty Images</p>

Dorling Kindersley/ Gary Ombler /Getty Images

When to Harvest Carrots

The variety of carrots you plant will determine when it is the best time to harvest your crop. Most carrots are mature in about 50 to 75 days from seed. Follow the guidelines on your seed packet.

Carrots can withstand the first light frost—and it may even help them taste sweeter—however, the carrots should be harvested before a hard frost.

Carrots should be allowed to mature fully to achieve their full flavor and sweetness. If your soil is loose, you can use your fingers to test the size of the root to see if it is the diameter expected at maturity. When ready to harvest, give the top of the root a slight twist and pull it from the soil. Remove the carrot tops immediately for the best-tasting carrot roots.

<p>Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images</p>

Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

Read the original article on The Spruce.