Growing & Harvesting Carrots In A Raised Bed

I finally decided to harvest my carrots yesterday. A frost is predicted for this weekend, so I wanted to get them out of the ground, just in case (even though they are supposed to be cold hardy).

This year I planted our carrots in a raised bed. If you remember, last year I tried planting them in rows, without much success. They definitely did much better this time around. I did get more of a harvest in the raised bed. Unfortunately though, the carrots were still really small.

I think my mistake was in the variety I chose- Scarlet Nantes. They are known to be small, but are supposed to be very sweet. Next Spring I’ll plant a larger variety. Right now, for us, quantity is better than quality! I’d rather have larger carrots that aren’t quite as sweet, than tiny ones that taste a little better.

Here’s this year’s harvest! Not a substantial amount by any means, but at least a step in the right direction. We are learning, and improving, so that’s encouraging!

I definitely learned that thinning carrots is a must. If you do not thin them to an inch or two apart, you will only end up with tiny, scraggly roots and no carrot.

From start to finish, here’s what I did:

The raised bed was filled with 12 inches of “compost” from a local landscaping business. It looked more like mulch than good planting material to me. Although I wasn’t impressed with the delivery, I planted in it. It was looser than the red clay dirt we tried to sew our crops in last year, so I was hopeful.

In Spring I direct sowed the carrot seeds. (Meaning, I did not start plants, or buy plants, but planted the seeds directly into the bed. This really is the only way to grow carrots, they don’t transplant well.) Carrot seeds are extremely tiny, so it’s hard to try spacing them out. Definitely don’t try planting them in a breeze!

I made a little trench in the dirt using my finger, and ran it the length of the bed, about 1/4″ deep. Then I slowly sprinkled the seeds into the groove, trying to space them out the best I could. When I’d finished planting the row, I covered it back over with loose dirt.

I marked my rows so that I knew where to expect growth to emerge. Then I watered them well. I watered a little every day for the first few days, then a couple of times a week, if it hadn’t rained.

Some people recommend placing a board over the row until the seedlings emerge, but I didn’t try this this time around.

Once the tops were well established, I thinned the carrots to between 1-2″ apart. When weeds grew up around them, I used scissors to trim them below the surface of the soil. You cannot pull weeds from among the carrots without uprooting your precious harvest as well.

To check the progress of their growth, you can gently brush the dirt away from the top of the carrots to see how thick around it is. Sometimes this can be misleading though. Some of my carrots were very thin at the top, but got very fat underneath the surface of the soil. I decided just to let them grow until danger of frost. I do wonder if the quality of taste is effected by how long the carrots are left to grow.

Anyways, now that they are all pulled up (a job the kids thoroughly enjoyed helping with!), and scrubbed clean, I have to decide what to do with them. I think I’d like to experiment with dehydrating the carrots for later use in soups and stews. Of course, we’ll enjoy some fresh as well!

I’m so anxious for Spring again already! There’s SO much more I want to plant next year.

*For more inspiration and carrot growing tips, check out My 2011 Carrot Harvest! What progress!

Kendra
About Kendra 1107 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.

16 Comments

  1. So I read through your information on carrots in raised beds. I love the information and the fact you are getting the word out to raise your gardening. I especially love that people can do this in a yard on a postage stamp.

    For carrots, though I would recommend that you mellow up your compost with peat to loosen the soil or you could use light sand. Carrots need a loose soil mass to grow straight and larger.

    Nantees do really well in beds, you can try some of the other Nantee varieties. I might recoment that you try some Heirloom breeds.

  2. I’m a new follower of your blog, and those carrots still look good! In the past, I’ve used an old salt shaker to put my tiny seeds in, such as carrots or radishes. It makes it easier to spread the seeds apart.

  3. Hello growing carrots in a raised bed is a great idea as it can help reduce the threat of the carrot fly. I would just comment that by looking at your carrots I would say that the soil you used was too rich or had a lot od stone/ pebble in it. More information on this can be found here it also has information on storing carrots

  4. Around here, in Indiana, it works well for us to cover the carrot bed with about a foot of straw right before the ground gets cold enough to freeze. This will prevent the ground from freezing and you can go out throughout the winter, move over a little straw, and dig up a few carrots when you want them. It’s okay if the tops die from light frosts before you cover them, as long as you cover before the ground is cold enough to start freezing. We also do this with potatoes and had potatoes last winter until March when we ran out. Without a root cellar, we just don’t have the proper conditions to store harvested root vegetables without them getting either too cold or too hot (garage gets too cold, basement is too warm–we’ve tried both), so this method is a really great alternative. We also grow mangels to feed the chickens and will also try this method with them this winter so we can continue feeding the chickens some produce through the winter. We also grew sunflowers and harvested the heads of seeds–these are stored in the garage for chicken treats throughout the winter. Just a couple of ideas maybe someone else can use, too. 🙂

  5. I read that leaving carrots in for a frost makes the carrots sweeter. I’ve had a hard time keeping my carrots from drying out even if I put them in sand for winter storage. A web site I checked also recommended not washing the carrot before storage.

    A farmer at my market seconded the board idea. It keeps the seeds from blowing away while it germinates.

    Now basil, on the other hand, dies at the mere mention of frost.

  6. Seems to me I remember reading that leaving them longer than recommended for the variety does change the flavor… I’d love to know your experience though. 🙂 Our carrots never grow. Only the long spindly root. Interesting that you grew yours in mostly compost. That’s what we’ve done and thought that was part of the problem… maybe needing more sand or something. I think we’re changing our whole soil composition this next year. Maybe something will grow for us. 🙂

  7. So glad that you shared. I believe I gave up on my carrots too early this year. I was wondering how high are your raised bed boxes. Mine are six inches however I was reading that for crops like carrots, it is best to raise the bed an additional 5 inches for a 12 inch deep box. I might just try that next year with one small box to see if it increases the quality and yield.

    And I so appreciate Holly’s suggestion of mixing sand with those fine seeds. I’ll try that next year as well!

    Blessings …

  8. My parents neighbor is a seasoned gardener and canner, and he told me to mix my seeds that are as small as carrot seeds with a little sand and then spread….I found that this was also good with lettuce too…He also recommended using this method with radishes too…. It seemed to work great for us this year….

  9. Hi there, Kendra! I thought I’d stop by to say hello! Miss you on FB, but I understand why you left. Totally got it! I enjoy getting your blog posts in my e-mail. 🙂

    I loved the pictures of the carrots! Some of them are so silly looking! We’ve had some like that! Our carrots didn’t do too well this year. We had plenty of tomatoes and some green beans and cucumbers but other than that our garden was a big disappointment. Oh well…there’s next year!

    Take care!

    Hugs,
    Carmen 🙂

  10. oh also! I forgot you asked:
    I probably have too expensive of a camera for what you are needing/looking for, but mine is a Nikon. I have owned both Nikon and Cannon and enjoy them both! You will definatly want to save up for a SLR camera though, that is probably what you will be wanting. The Nikon D40 series is a good one, that is the line mine is in and I really like it! I love that mine can take mulipule pictures per second…so if you can find one that can take a few images/frames per second. (which is helpful too if like me you enjoy natural lighting=less blurry pictures, etc)
    I’m not sure if this helps, but I do hope you find something perfect!!
    Blessings,
    Tarena

    • Thanks Tarena! Your photos always come out in such great quality! I have a cheepo digital camera from Walmart. It’s slow to snap a shot, won’t focus half the time, and doesn’t allow good lighting at all. I’d LOVE to have a nice camera, especially to take pics of the kids. I could never afford one myself, but maybe if I put one on my Christmas list my family will pitch in on one!! Ya never know 🙂 Thanks for your help!

  11. When I am sewing small seeds like carrots or lettuce, I mix in a little soil and then sew it in. It helps to distribute the seeds a little. I have heard of people using sand but I don’t have any handy, loose soil works just fine.

  12. Looks great!!!
    Our harvest this year wasn’t the greatest, but it was a very bad year for this area (so I was glad to know it wasn’t me!!) and a mole found my lovely garden and came back often to enjoy our tasty carrots! haha!
    oh well…it was a great learning experiance! (oh! and I started my seeds indoors and transplanted them…although it took for.ev.er.! )
    Thanks for your comments on my blog!
    Talk to you soon,
    tarena

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