Grow > Vegetables > Carrots

How To Grow Carrots

Botanical Name(s): Daucus carota
Common Names: bishop's lace, bird's nest, Queen Anne's lace
Family: Apiaceae
Plant Type: root vegetable, herbaceous half-hardy biennial, white flowers
Records: longest is 6.245 metres (UK), heaviest weighs 10.17kg (USA)
Nutrition: vitamin K1, beta carotene, fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants

Long Red Belgian Carrot.
Long Red Belgian Carrot.

Carrots in the top 5 most valuable vegetable crops in Australia with potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes and onions in front! Around 20% is exported overseas fresh. Carrot leaves can be eaten as can the flowers and seeds!

Where do carrots originate from?

Naturalised in Australia and North America, the carrot is native to temperate areas in Europe and southwest Asia. Carrots were originally purple and white, before a orange varietal was domesticated by the Dutch.

Where in Australia will carrots grow?

Temperate regions grow the best carrots, however you can still grow into the sub-tropics, however the tropics will be more difficult, especially areas with high rainfall.

What conditions are required to grow the best carrots?

Carrots like free draining soils and don't take heavy soils and water well. They also don't like being crowded, so sow sparingly.

How to Plant Carrots

The Carrot! to grow the perfect carrots, a deep rich and sandy soil should be mature and prepared in advance. Screening the mixture from large stones and chunks of debris will allow perfectly formed carrots to grow easily in the soil. Choose a calm day to sow the seeds as they are light and may blow away. Rub the seeds in a light soil mix to disperse them and then thing to a distance of 10 to 20cm according to the variety.

Early Frame Carrot
Early Frame.

Carrots come in two general types, long rooted and those with short roots. A long root variety will need deep soil and well worked to make an easy journey into the ground in search of nutrients. Shorter root varieties will only need around 20-25cm of growing depth. Carrots don't like freshly fertilised ground, so prepare at least half a season in advance, preferably an entire season for best results.

You may sow radishes and carrots together, in alternating rows six inches apart, the former will be used by the time the carrots need the room, and in this way a single 3 x 6 ft. sash will yield a good supply for the home garden. If the ground if free from weeds, a late crop may sometimes sown between rows of onions and left to mature when the onions are harvested.

Varieties of Carrot

Early Horn Carrot.
Early Horn Carrot.

Harvesting.—The roots attain their full size by the autumn of the first year; and, as they are not perfectly hardy, should be dug and housed before the ground is frozen. When large quantities are raised for stock, they are generally placed in bulk in the cellar, without packing; but the finer sorts, when intended for the table, are usually packed in earth or sand, in order to retain their freshness and flavor. With ordinary precaution, they will remain sound and fresh until May or June.

Seed.—To raise seed, select good-sized, smooth, and symmetrical roots; and as early in spring as the frost is out of the ground, and the weather settled, transplant to rows three feet apart, and fifteen inches apart in the rows, sinking the crowns just below a level with the surface of the ground. The seed-stalks are from four to six feet in height, with numerous branches. The flowers appear in June and July; are white; and are produced at the extremities of the branches, in umbels, or flat, circular groups or clusters, from two to five inches in diameter. The seed ripens in August; but, as all the heads do not ripen at once, they should be cut off as they successively mature. The stiff, pointed hairs or bristles with which the seeds are thickly covered, and which cause them to adhere together, should be removed either by threshing or by rubbing between the hands; clearing them more or less perfectly, according to the manner of sowing. If sown by a machine, the seeds should not only be free from broken fragments of the stems of the plant, but the surface should be made as smooth as possible. For hand-sowing, the condition of the seed is less essential; though, when clean, it can be distributed in the drill more evenly and with greater facility.

The seeds of the several varieties differ little in size, form, or color, and are not generally distinguishable from each other. They will keep well two years; and if preserved from dampness, and placed in a cool situation, a large percentage will vegetate when three years old.

In the vegetable garden, an ounce of seed is allowed for one hundred and fifty feet of drill; and, for field culture, about two pounds for an acre.

An ounce contains twenty-four thousand seeds.

Use.—Though not relished by all palates, carrots are extensively employed for culinary purposes, and are generally considered healthful and nutritious. They form an important ingredient in soups, stews, and French dishes of various descriptions; and by many are much esteemed, when simply boiled, and served with meats or fish.

"Carrots may be given to every species of stock, and form in all cases a palatable and nourishing food. They are usually given in their raw state, though they may be steamed or boiled in the same manner as other roots.

"Horses and dairy-cows are the live-stock to which they are most frequently given. They are found in an eminent degree to give color and flavor to butter; and, when this is the end desired, no species of green-feeding is better suited to the dairy. To horses they may be given with cut straw and hay; and, thus given, form a food which will sustain them on hard work.

They afford excellent feeding for swine, and quickly fatten them. When boiled, they will be eaten by poultry; and, mixed with any farinaceous substance, form an excellent food for them. They are also used for distillation, affording a good spirit."

Varieties of Carrot

Altringham. Law.

Altringham. Long Red Altringham. Vil.

The Altrincham Carrot measures about fourteen inches in length, by two inches in diameter. It retains its thickness for nearly two-thirds its length: but the surface is seldom regular or smooth; the genuine variety being generally characterized by numerous crosswise elevations, and corresponding depressions. Neck small and conical, rising one or two inches above the surface of the soil. Skin nearly bright-red; the root having a semi-transparent appearance. Flesh bright and lively, crisp and breaking in its texture; and the heart, in proportion to the size of the root, is smaller than that of the Long Orange. Leaves long, but not large or very numerous.

According to Lawson, it is easily distinguished from the Long Orange by the roots growing more above ground, by its more convex or rounded shoulders, and by its tapering more irregularly, and terminating more abruptly. It is, however, exceedingly difficult to procure the variety in its purity, as it is remarkably liable to sport, although the roots grown for seed be selected with the greatest care.

It is a good field-carrot, but less productive than the Long Orange and some others; mild and well flavored for the table, and one of the best sorts for cultivation for market.

Thompson states that "it derives its name from a place called Altrincham, in Cheshire, Eng., where it is supposed to have originated. In seedsmen's lists it is frequently, but erroneously, called the Altringham."

Early Frame.

Early Forcing Horn. Earliest Short Forcing Horn. Early Short Scarlet.

Root grooved or furrowed at the crown, roundish, or somewhat globular; rather more than two inches in diameter, nearly the same in depth, and tapering suddenly to a very slender tap-root. Skin red, or reddish-orange; brown or greenish where it comes to the surface of the ground. Foliage small and finely cut or divided, not so large or luxuriant as that of the Early Horn.

The Early Frame is the earliest of all varieties, and is especially adapted for cultivation under glass, both on account of its earliness, and the shortness and small size of its roots. It is also one of the best sorts for the table, being very delicate, fine-grained, mild, and remarkably well flavored.

Where space is limited, it may be grown in rows six inches apart, thinned to three inches apart in the rows; or sown broadcast, and the young plants thinned to three inches apart in each direction.

Early Half-Long Scarlet.

Half-long Red. Vil.

Root slender and tapering, measuring seven or eight inches in length, and two inches in its greatest diameter. Crown hollow. Skin red below the surface of the ground, green or brown above. Flesh reddish-orange, fine-grained, mild, and well flavored. Foliage similar to that of the Early Frame, but not abundant.

The variety is remarkably productive; in good soil and favorable seasons, often yielding an amount per acre approaching that of the Long Orange. Season intermediate between the early garden and late field sorts.

Early Horn.

Early Scarlet Horn. Early Short Dutch. Dutch Horn.

Root six inches in length, two inches and a half in diameter, nearly cylindrical, and tapering abruptly to a very slender tap-root. Skin orange-red, but green or brown where it comes to the surface of the ground. Flesh deep orange-yellow, fine-grained, and of superior flavor and delicacy. The crown of the root is hollow, and the foliage short and small.

The variety is very early, and as a table-carrot much esteemed, both on account of the smallness of its heart and the tenderness of its fibre. As the roots are very short, it is well adapted for shallow soils; and on poor, thin land will often yield a greater product per acre than the Long Orange or the White Belgian, when sown under like circumstances.

Sow in rows one foot apart, and thin to four inches in the rows.

Flander's Large Pale Scarlet. Vil.

Flander's Pale Red.

Root produced within the earth, fourteen or fifteen inches long, three or four inches in diameter at the broadest part, fusiform, not very symmetrical, but often quite crooked and angular. The crown is flat, very large, and nearly covered by the insertion of the leaves. Flesh reddish-yellow, and rather coarse-grained. Foliage large and vigorous.

The roots are formed early and with great certainty. It is also very productive, of large size, keeps remarkably well; and, though of coarse texture, one of the best sorts for cultivation for farm-purposes.

It originated in Flanders, and is comparatively an old variety, but is little disseminated, and not grown to any extent, in this country.

Long Orange.

Root long, thickest at or near the crown, and tapering regularly to a point. Size very variable, being much affected by soil, season, and cultivation: well-grown specimens measure fifteen inches in length, and three inches in diameter at the crown. Skin smooth, of a reddish-orange color. Flesh comparatively close-grained, succulent, and tender, of a light-reddish vermilion or orange color, the heart lighter, and large in proportion to the size of the root. Foliage not abundant, but healthy and vigorous, and collected into a comparatively small neck. The roots are usually produced entirely within the earth.

If pulled while very young and small, they are mild, fine-grained, and good for table use; but, when full grown, the texture is coarser, and the flavor stronger and less agreeable.

The Long Orange is more cultivated in this country for agricultural purposes than all other varieties. With respect to its value for stock, its great productiveness, and its keeping properties, it is considered the best of all the sorts for field culture. A well-enriched soil will yield from six hundred to eight hundred bushels per acre. The seed is usually sown in drills, about fourteen inches apart, but sometimes on ridges, eighteen or twenty inches apart, formed by turning two furrows together; the ridges yielding the largest roots, and the drills the greatest quantity.

Two pounds of seed are usually allowed to an acre; but, if sown by a well-regulated machine, about one-half this quantity will be sufficient.

Long Red Belgian.

Yellow Belgian. Yellow Green-top Belgian.

Root very long, fusiform, contracted a little towards the crown, but nearly of uniform thickness from the top down half the length. Size large; when grown in deep soil, often measuring twenty inches in length, and nearly three inches in diameter. The crown rises four or five inches above the surface of the ground, and is of a green color; below the surface, the skin is reddish-yellow. Flesh orange-red.

This variety, like the White, originated in Belgium. In Europe it is much esteemed by agriculturists, and is preferred to the White Belgian, as it is not only nearly as productive, but has none of its defects.

Long Yellow.

Long Lemon.

Root fusiform, three inches in diameter at the crown, and from, twelve to fourteen inches in depth. Skin pale yellow, or lemon-color, under ground; but greenish on the top, or crown, which rises a little above the surface of the soil. Flesh yellow, the heart paler, and, like that of the Long Orange, of large size. While young, the roots are delicate, mild, and well flavored; but, when full grown, valuable only for stock.

The Long Lemon is easily harvested, and is very productive, yielding nearly the same quantity to the acre as the Long Orange; which variety it much resembles in its general character, and with which it is frequently, to a greater or less extent, intermixed.

Long Surrey.

Long Red. James's Scarlet.

This variety much resembles the Long Orange: the roots, however, are more slender, the heart is smaller, and the color deeper.

"It is popular in some parts of England, and is extensively grown over the Continent."

Long White.

Common White.

Root produced entirely below ground, regularly fusiform, fifteen inches long, by about three inches in its largest diameter. Skin white, stained with russet-brown. Flesh white, and generally considered sweeter than that of the colored varieties.

The Common White has been but little cultivated since the introduction of the White Belgian; a variety much more productive, though perhaps not superior either in flavor, or fineness of texture.

New Intermediate.

New Intermediate.

An English variety, comparatively of recent introduction. Root broadest at the crown, and thence tapering very regularly to a point. Size full medium; well-grown specimens measuring nearly three inches in diameter at the broadest part, and about one foot in length. Skin bright orange-red. Flesh orange-yellow, fine-grained, sweet, well flavored, and, while young, excellent for table use.

Very hardy, and also very productive; yielding, according to the best English authority, a greater weight per acre than any other yellow-fleshed variety.

Purple or Blood Red.

Violette. Vil.

Root fusiform, and very slender, fourteen inches in length, by two inches and a half in diameter at the top or broadest part. Skin deep purple, varying to some extent in depth of shade, but generally very dark. Flesh purple at the outer part of the root, and yellow at the centre or heart; fine grained, sugary, and comparatively well flavored.

Not much cultivated for the table, on account of the brown color it imparts to soups or other dishes of which it may be an ingredient. It is also inclined to run to seed the year it is sown. It has, however, the reputation of flourishing better in wet, heavy soil, than any other variety.

Short White.

Blanche des Vosges. Vil.

Root obtusely conical, seven or eight inches long, by about four inches in diameter at the crown, which is large, flat, greenish, and level with the surface of the ground. Skin white, tinted with amber, smooth and fine. Flesh yellowish-white, remarkably solid, and fine in texture; sweet and well flavored. Foliage rather finely divided, and as vigorous as the Long Orange.

The Short White yields well, retains its qualities during winter, and is well adapted for cultivation in soils that are hard and shallow.


Long Red Brunswick.

Root fusiform, very long, and regular; the crown level with the surface of the soil. In good cultivation, the roots attain a length of sixteen inches, and a diameter of nearly two inches. Color bright reddish-orange, like the Altrincham.

An excellent table-carrot, but flourishes well only in deep, mellow soil.

White Belgian.

Green-top White.

Root very long, fusiform, eighteen to twenty inches in length, and four or five inches in diameter. In the genuine variety, the crown rises five or six inches from the surface of the ground; and, with the exception of a slight contraction towards the top, the full diameter is retained for nearly one-half of the entire length. Skin green above, white below ground. Flesh white, tending to citron-yellow at the centre or heart of the root; somewhat coarse in texture. Foliage rather large and vigorous.

The White Belgian Carrot is remarkable for its productiveness, surpassing in this respect all other varieties, and exceeding that of the Long Orange by nearly one-fourth. It can be harvested with great facility, and gives a good return even on poor soils.

The variety is not considered of any value as a table esculent, and is grown almost exclusively for feeding stock; for which purpose, it is, however, esteemed less valuable than the yellow-fleshed sorts, because less nutritious, and more liable to decay during winter.

Since its introduction, it has somewhat deteriorated; and, as now grown, differs to some extent from the description given above. The roots are smaller, seldom rise more than two or three inches above the soil, and taper directly from the crown to the point. A judicious selection of roots for seed, continued for a few seasons, would undoubtedly restore the variety to its primitive form and dimensions.

The same amount of seed will be required as of the Long Orange: and the general method of culture should be the same; with the exception, that, in thinning out the plants, the White Belgian should have more space.

White Belgian Horn.

Transparent White. Vil.

Root seven or eight inches in length, and two inches in its greatest diameter, tapering regularly from the crown to the point. Skin fine, clear white. Flesh very white, and almost transparent, mild, tender, and delicate.

A French variety, remarkable for the peculiar, pure white color of its skin and flesh.