Planting Carrots That Will Grow Long And Straight

Carrots can be a bit tricky to grow successfully.  Sure, just about anyone can get them to grow, but the complaint I hear most often is that they are either super short, or they split and grow lots of roots.

While there isn’t anything wrong with these carrots, and they are perfectly edible, most people want long, straight carrots–especially if they’re selling them.

Here are some tips for how I get the job done.


Want carrots that are long and skinny without splits? Here's some planting tips to get you there.

Timing

You can time your planting one of three ways, depending on your climate and zone.

  1. If you have a long growing period, start planting as soon as all danger of frosts is over.  Plant every two weeks until midsummer, and then stop.  This produces a continual harvest.
  2. Plant half your crop when all danger of frost is over.  Plant the other half at midsummer.  This will give you two harvests.
  3. For a shorter growing season, plant as soon as danger of frost is over.  This is what we do.  You only get one harvest.
Prep Work

Start of by making sure you’ve picked well drained soil.  Now work it.  And work it again, and again.  Make sure you are tilling deep and that all debris and rocks have been removed.

Carrots are not tough vegetables.  If they come across any debris or rocks, they will grow around it–this causes forks.  If the soil is not loose, they will simply stop trying to get any longer.

My carrot bed was probably tilled five times this year before I planted.  And every other year, it’s at least three times.  Seriously.  The last time I always make sure I’m going as deep as I can.

Putting seeds in the soil

When you are absolutely ready to plant your carrots, till it one more time as deep as you dare go.  Remember that a carrot will get as long as it wants to get before it “fills out,” so you want that ground below your seeds loose.

Want carrots that are long and skinny without splits? Here's some planting tips to get you there.

Rake your ground flat with the back side of your rake as you pull all the debris out.  (Please ignore the volunteer potatoes in this picture.  I didn’t have the heart to pull them.)  At this point, I use a hoe to make my rows/channels.  I only go down as low as I want my watering channels and no deeper.  Now I go back and use the corner of my hoe to put a tiny channel in the middle of the one I just made.  Click any picture to enlarge.

Using sand to plant carrots. This article discusses why this works so well. This is genius! Now I’m ready to get my 60+ ounce glass jar and lid. I’ll fill it with dry sand and make sure there are no rocks in it.  We have a sand pit right in the middle of one of our wheat fields that rarely gets used for anything.  You can find sand at the beach, or along another water source.  (Note, this is very bad on your canning jars, so don’t use one of those if you can help it.)

I place a package of carrot seeds (or two) in the sand, put the lid on and shake shake shake!  Once it’s all mixed together, I walk along the small channel I made with the corner of my hoe and very carefully fill it with sand.  Two packages of carrot seeds (and at least one quart of clean, dry sand) make a 50 foot row.

At this point, I very lightly put the hoe back in the original channel and drag it carefully down the length.  This should just cover the sand.  Now it’s time to gently water.

Since everything we do is on a slant, I start the water at the top of the channel and let it slowly fill all the way to the end of the row.

Why sand?
  • The sand allows me to pour the seeds out instead of hand planting them one by one an inch apart for 50 foot rows.  Where’s the sanity in that?
  • I don’t know how, but when I really mix the sand and seeds together, they just plant themselves pretty evenly spaced apart.  This means that I don’t have to go back and thin them.  This not only saves time, but also saves the carrot seed lives.  Now every single seed has the potential to grow into a healthy adult.
  • During my first few waterings, the seeds won’t get stuck in hard mud–they will still be in the sand, allowing them to germinate and grow in this well-drained medium.
  • When I cover my seeds, I know how deep they are.  I know that when the sand disappears, they are covered properly.
  • Ever worry about washing your seeds away?  As long as I don’t see the sand appear, I know the seeds are staying put.  If I start to see the sand coming to the surface and making a trail somewhere, I know that’s probably where the seeds are too.
Maintenance 

Lastly, remember that carrots get their length during their beginning time in the soil.  They cannot compete with weeds.  If you don’t weed anything else in your garden at this time, make sure you don’t forget to weed the carrots.  They will reward you in the end.

 

Did you resolve to grow an abundant and plentiful garden this year?  Check out 7 steps to help get you there.

You can grow a beautiful and abundant garden this year--you just need a plan.

 

19 Comments

  1. We have raised beds and line it with galvanized hardware cloth because of gophers, so I tend to plant Danvers Half Long, Shin Kuroda, or some other short variety. I love your idea of succession planting. I always forget to do that! I think I’d have to start in the winter, though, being in SoCal, and go until mid-Spring. Otherwise it’s SO hot and the seedlings will come up and die pretty quickly. Great info, thanks for sharing!

    • Yes Kristi, when I lived in the hot hot hot state of California, I didn’t try to grow any through the middle of the summer either. But you can plant again as fall approaches to get a second batch. (Of course that was 25 years ago and we got intermittent rain–I bet you have to be creative now that it’s super dry!)
      Danvers are so yummy!

  2. I always have issues with carrots but refuse to give up. Seems the rain travels my seeds and this year (in North TX) we had a ton of rain so few survived. I like the sand trick, I’ll be pinning and sharing this later today on Facebook. Great Article!
    Carole

    • You guys have been hit hard with all that rain this year (sending prayers your way).
      At least with the sand trick, you can see where your carrots have washed away to. I’ve had this happen–although not on the same level as you all have. Then even if they aren’t where you want them, you won’t accidentally pick them while weeding.
      I hope you have enough left to enjoy.
      Thank you for sharing.
      Blessings,

  3. I love your idea with the sand. I will have to give that a try!

  4. Hey I just love the sand tip, it makes so much sense. Thanks for sharing. Blessings

  5. I wish I would have read this a month ago! I did the sprinkle method for the seeds and they’re pretty even, but it’s more of a carrot ‘patch’. The weeding is always a nightmare! Your method sounds much better.

    Thanks for sharing your post!

    ~Lisa

  6. Do you water your carrot seeds daily? I must be the only person that can’t get carrots to come up. I will try your sand idea next year.

    • Like most other seeds, I make sure they are continually most until established. This may or not mean I’m watering daily depending on my timing and if it’s hot or not. Just make sure the seeds aren’t washing away.
      I hope the sand trick helps you, and remember to weed them thoroughly and gently–they won’t compete with weeds at their earliest stages.

    • I am with you! I can’t seem to get them to germinate. I will try to soak the seeds first this year.

      • Oh my… I would never try to soak my carrot seeds first. But I am very interested to hear how it goes for you. If you think about it, would you let me know how your carrots fare?

  7. I read recently that intermittent watering will cause them to split as well. I don’t know personally though.

  8. This made me think back to my mom and dads garden. I remember my mom putting a shovel at the end of the carrot row and when it was snowing she was out there digging carrots. I remember the contrast of the orange and white. They were delicious.

  9. I have never seen such an awesome, comprehensive description on how to plant carrots. Mine are always hit and miss. I’m so excited to try this that I’m doing it in the morning! Yea!!! Thank you!

    • I hope it helps Kelly. I’ve never not gotten an excellent crop of carrots–they are essential to our diet. If you think about it later, let me know how they did.

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