Saturday, July 30, 2011

Planting Carrots in Containers

One of our goals for Fall planting is to actually get a good crop of carrots.  As you can see from this Harvest Monday post a few weeks back, our Spring planted carrots didn't really get anywhere due to the overly wet spring and partial clay ground being too hard.

We decided to try growing carrots in containers to avoid the hard ground and the bugs that bored into our other root veggies last fall.  Here's is the general outline of our plan of action:
  • First, we bought several bags of high quality potting soil that is now on sale, plus several packets of carrots and 3 of those big rope-handle tubs with straight sides that people use for beer at barbecue parties.  The potting soil is half the price it was in the spring and will be a nice loose medium for our carrots.  The brand we got had plant food already mixed in.  You will also need burlap, which we already had for free from a coffee house that would otherwise have thrown it away.
  • Second, we drilled a ton of holes in the bottom and around the bottom 2 inches of the sides of our buckets with our biggest drill bit for drainage.  Drill way more holes than you think you need.
  • Third, we filled the buckets 3/4 of the way with the potting soil.  We found that three of the buckets took four bags total of potting soil that contained 1.5 cubic feet each.  Reserve about a gallon of soil in a bucket...maybe a little less.  Make sure you break up the soil clumps if you just pour it into the buckets.  Lightly pat down.
  • Fourth, we sprinkled about half of a packet of carrot seeds on the top of each bucket.  Make sure you get good coverage as you will be thinning in a few weeks.  Carrot seeds are usually clearanced this time of year and we got ours for a few cents.  Spring carrot seeds will cost a bit more.
  • Fifth, we evenly distributed a 1/4 inch layer of potting soil on top of our seeds and lightly patted it down.  Try to make the coverage as even as possible.
  • Finally, we cut a square of the burlap and pressed it down on top of the soil.  We wet it down thoroughly and will keep it moist by watering a few times a day if needed until the seeds germinate.  Be sure to check FREQUENTLY and remove the burlap as soon as you see and carrot greens poking through the soil.  

The straight sided buckets are important for maximizing space if you'll be growing long carrots, but slant-walled buckets and containers can be used as well if you don't plant so much near the edge.  There are also a whole bunch of shorter carrot varieties that might work out well in shallower containers.  Just remember that the tap root will be quite a bit longer than the carrot itself, so you can't just go by the expected carrot length when deciding on soil depth.  

Good luck to anyone who decides to try it!  Here are what ours look like now...I'll keep you posted on the results.

Our carrot buckets.

Carrot bucket number two.  We have three total.

UPDATE:  It was a HUGE success!  For the first time ever we got LOADS of perfect carrots!  Here's the post with pictures of the results:

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