Absolutely Everything You Need to Know About Growing Carrots in Australia

Absolutely Everything You Need to Know About Growing Carrots in Australia

Back in 2020, we answered the question that may be on your mind right now: “Is it worth growing carrots?” There are multiple reasons why growing carrots is a great idea so let’s begin with a recap. 

  • Freshly harvested carrots are sweeter, more nutritious, and juicier. Even after cooking, home grown carrots are worlds apart from anything you can get at the supermarket!
  • Growing your own carrots lets you explore some really interesting varieties - more on this shortly.
  • It’s easy to grow carrots in Australia! This is a great crop for beginners who want to develop their gardening skills, and get a good harvest on the first try. 
  • Don’t have a lot of space? Carrots fit in just about anywhere. You can even grow them in pots or window boxes.
  • It’s fun growing carrots - and you’ll get more than your money’s worth -  just try it and see! 

Feeling motivated? Then it’s time to give you all our tips and tricks so that you can get started. Let’s go!

Growing Carrots From Seed in Australia

There’s only one way to grow good carrots, and that’s from seeds planted right where you want them to grow. Here’s what you need to know.

Best Time to Sow Carrots 

If you live in a warm area, you can grow carrots all year round - but midsummer may be a little too hot and dry for them.

In temperate areas, we recommend sowing carrots between September and March

In cool or cold areas, you can sow them between August and February. 

Choosing the Right Position for Carrots

Carrots like sunshine! Choose a spot that gets at least six hours of direct sun during the day. You can get away with growing them under a very light shade net if you want to. For the rest, there’s not a lot to consider. Carrots will tolerate wind and even light frost. 

Best Soil for Carrots

To keep your carrots growing well, they will need soft, well-drained soil. If you have clay soil, you can build up the soil level and improve drainage by adding compost. In sandy soils, you should still add compost, but this time, it helps with water retention. 

You’d also like your carrots to grow nice, straight roots. That means stony soil isn’t the best choice for them. If your soil is stony, you can overcome this by building raised beds or growing your carrots in containers filled with a good potting soil. 

Sowing Carrot Seeds

Carrot seeds germinate well! Scatter them thinly in 1 cm deep furrows 15 to 30 cm apart. If you’re growing them in pots, you can just scatter them thinly on the surface and then top up the pot with a layer of potting soil. 

Now, all you need to do is water them gently but thoroughly, and keep the soil moist thereafter. Your seedlings should appear in two to three weeks. 

Extra tip: you can prolong your harvest by spacing consecutive sowings two to four weeks apart. This simple form of succession planting means you won’t end up with way too many carrots followed by nothing at all. 

Thinning Carrots

One of the most common errors gardeners make is failing to thin their seedlings out. The roots need room to develop, and if you don’t thin them, it’ll take longer to get fewer carrots. So, although your stand of newly-germinated carrots is a joy to behold, you’ll have to kill some of your babies. 

Time this operation for when your plants are about 7 cm tall. Pull or nip off the weaker-looking seedlings in areas where they’ve come up too close together. There should be at least 5 cm between plants. 

It’s best not to try replanting thinned out carrots. They’ll grow, but you’ll get twisted or branched roots that are hard to process. 

Water well after thinning since your activity may have disturbed the soil around the roots of the carrots you’ve chosen to keep. 

Feeding Carrots

If you planted your seeds in rich soil or added some slow release fertiliser, you don’t really need to feed them. Of course, you might like to give them a boost if they seem to be growing a little slowly. If you do, avoid high nitrogen fertilisers. A liquid feed every few weeks should be enough. 

Watering Carrots

Carrots like moist soil. If it gets too dry, the carrots can develop a bitter flavour. But overwatering isn’t good for them either. The best way to work out when it’s time to water is to use the finger test. 

Simply press your fingertip a little way into the ground. If you feel moisture, you can wait a little longer. 

Preventing Green Tops

As your carrots grow, you might notice that the shoulders of the roots are sticking out of the ground. If you leave them like this, they’ll turn green because of the sun exposure. 

The green parts are horribly bitter. You can cut them off, but prevention is better than cure! You can cover the tops of the roots with some more soil, or add a layer of mulch (for example, dried grass clippings) to keep them out of the sun. 

Harvesting Carrots

Now for the best time of all: harvest time! Your first carrots may be ready after about 8 weeks of growth. You may find that some are ready before others, or that you have to wait a little longer - up to 12 weeks. 

You can test them by feeling the tops of your carrots to test their diameter - or try pulling a promising-looking plant to see what the root looks like. 

You can leave carrots in the soil for up to 18 weeks - after that, they’ll tend to lose their sweetness, so don’t let them stand for too long. 

Carrot Troubleshooting

Carrots are incredibly trouble-free on the whole. I’ve certainly never had to treat mine for any pests or diseases. There are a few signs that you’ve made mistakes in your carrot-care though. Here’s a quick rundown.

  • Seeds failed to germinate: Sown too deeply, allowed to get too dry, used old seeds.
  • Splitting: The soil got too dry between waterings. When there was available water, the roots split. Carrots left in the oil too long also tend to develop split roots.  
  • Carrots were slow to develop and smaller than expected: Not thinning the seedlings enough means that your plants compete with each other. They cannot realise their potential under these circumstances. .
  • Carrots looked “hairy”: Carrots develop lots of fine feeder roots when there’s too much nitrogen in the soil. There’s nothing wrong with the carrots despite their odd appearance.
  • Funny-shaped or branching carrots: The soil was too heavy or too stony or the roots were disturbed. 

How Do You Grow “Baby” Carrots?

Carrots are at their best when they’re mature. You don’t get “baby” carrots by harvesting them young. In fact, very young carrots will be pale in colour and will have a bitter flavour. If you want “Baby” carrots, you must grow a variety that produces small roots. Popular baby carrot varieties include “Little Finger” and “Parisian Market.” 

Don’t be fooled by commercial tricks. Many of the frozen baby carrots you can buy in supermarkets are created by shaping larger carrots so that they look like little ones. 

Are Carrots Always Orange?

Just at tomatoes aren’t always red, carrots aren’t always orange. You can have a lot of fun growing carrot varieties with unusual colours. Try varieties like “Lunar White,” “Atomic Red,” or “Black Nebula” to add an element of surprise to your homegrown veg. Even orange-coloured carrots aren’t all the same

What to Do With Surplus Carrots

Despite your best efforts, it’s very easy to end up with more carrots than you can possibly eat. Of course, you can freeze your surplus. Or, you can try adding carrots to your pickling recipes. Never tried making pickles before? It’s easier than you might have thought! 

Into cut flower arrangements? Although the roots won’t be good to eat once they start flowering, carrot blooms make a great substitute for Baby’s Breath in flower arrangements. 

Ready to Start Growing Your Own Carrots?

Growing carrots is fun, easy, and rewarding - if you’ve tried it before, you’re probably hooked already. If you haven’t, it’s time to get started! Browse our range of carrot seeds for Australian gardens and give it a try. 

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