Growing Carrots in Containers
Carrots is one of those vegetables that is most consumed and always the pricey one in the market. That makes it a very good candidate for a kitchen garden. Daucus Carota, as it is called botanically, is a root vegetable consumed for its swollen tap root. While we are familiar with orange colored ones, there are several colors like Red, White, Yellow and purple. There are also different shapes. In India, the regular orange carrots and the long red carrots are quite popular. In the northern states of India, different varieties of carrots seems to be present.
Growing carrots in container starts from selecting the variety and the container. Here in India, we don’t get a lot of different varieties of carrots. In Europe and US of A, one can see many different varieties of carrots suitable for different environments. There are round carrots, baby carrots suitable for container growing.
The varieties available in India, can be grown successfully in container. The duration of carrot crop ranges from 2-3 months.
Growing Carrots: How to grow carrots in containers
Container selection for growing carrots:
Since carrot is a root vegetable with roots growing up to a feet. Selecting a proper container is essential for a good yield. One can grow carrots in variety of containers as long as they are deep enough for the variety of carrot that will be grown. Choose a container that is at least 1 feet deep. The carrot variety I grew is Early Nantes. Its root length is less than a feet. So I selected a tub/tray. This container pictured below is the one that is commonly found in grocery markets for storing vegetables. I rescued this from a plastic disposal store. Works like a charm for growing root vegetables.
You can grow them in normal pots or even polythene bags that are easily available . Once you have selected the container, make sure it has a drainage hole in it. Carrot prefers a loose well draining soil. If you can notice, there are drainage holes provided for the tray in the picture provided below.
Potting mix or media is the next important thing to consider while growing carrots. Carrot requires a loose medium for its root to grow down. For growing in soil, a mixture of red soil, well decomposed compost and coco peat/sand. Mixed in equal proportion is good enough. Make sure there are no rocks or debris in the mix. All this particles will hinder root growth of carrot. For soilless mix, coco peat is good. I had used a mix of coco peat and little perlite. Perlite is added to increase the drainage. It is not mandatory though.
As you can see below, the tray is filled with potting media and holes are also dibbled to mark the places where the seeds will be sown.
Seeds were sown at the rate of 2-3 per hole. They were spaced at 3 inches between plants.
Day 0 – Seeds were sown.
A week after the seeds were sown. Some of the seeds have germinated but not all of them.
Two week old seedlings. Almost all of them have germinated. Now my job is to get them thinned to just 1 per hole. It is better to wait and let them grow for some more time. Thinning can be done by just cutting the seedling off using a scissor instead of pulling the seedling or uprooting. Uprooting disturbs the soil and results in root damage of the plant you selected to grow.
A close up of 15 day old seedlings. Carrot grows little slow when compared to Radish..
25 day old carrot seedlings. This is a good time to thin the plants to just 1 every 3 inches. If the plants are bent, you can add some soil on top of it and compact it. If the stems are bent, roots wont be forming.
An example of polythene bag container for growing carrots. This bag is 1.5 feet deep and little less than a foot in diameter. You can also see the drainage holes made in the sides. There are drainage holes in the bottom as well. These bags are very useful for growing Long carrots.
One and a half months from the date of sowing, there is lush growth observed and foliage looked well defined and dark green color. The fertilizer used was 19-19-19 for the initial one month and I switched to 5-15-30 NPK for the rest of the growing period.
2 months and 1 week later, this is what I have. Thanks to daily rains, there was a heavy infestation of powdery mildew. Most of the leaves developed a white coloration and slowly started to wither away. After couple of sprays of wettable sulfur, the fungal problem went away. But the frequent rains, caused continuous leaching and there were deficiencies showing up. There was nothing much I could do for the rains..
Close up shot of carrots forming below. Another important thing to note here is, the green coloration on the shoulders of the carrot. This happens, when they are exposed to sunlight. As gardeners, our job is to cover the roots with soil, whenever it gets exposed.
At about 2.5 months, I started harvesting the carrots. I didn’t lift all the carrots up and end up flooding the refrigerator with carrots. Instead we decided to pull carrots as and when we needed. So here they are. Some of them were good (size wise) and some of them made me feel I was better off growing radish ;).
Nevertheless, I wasn’t disappointed with the whole thing. Everyday I used to take about 4-5 medium sized carrots. I heard the leaf can be eaten as well. I didn’t use the leaf for cooking this time. I simply tossed them off into another pot for composting. As shown in the picture, I did get some carrots that are cylindrical and some tapering. The taste was good. I wouldn’t say its better than market purchased carrot or anything like that. It was ok.
The carrots posing along with Yellow and green capsicum( the green ones were ripening and hence the dark color).
2nd Harvest. Remember the saying, not all fingers are of same size? This is the proof.
Distance between plants. This time it was 3 inches and I think may be that is another reason why the sizes of carrots were reduced. I was just greedy to pack more plants into the tray. May be next time, I will keep it at 5 inches between plants.
So this time, the yield didn’t come out the way I thought it would. Better luck next time.. I guess.
Below are the some of the popular varieties of carrots that grow in containers.
- Long Red (Red colored, root length is more than 1 feet).
- Early Nantes – Improved ( Cylindrical type, Container friendly)
- Shin Kuroda (Tapering type, Container friendly)
With this I will end this post. Hope you all enjoyed.