Carrots grow well in Central Florida. You can plant and grow carrots from late August all the way into March.
Carrots take 14 to 21 days to sprout from seed and 70 to a 120 days to reach harvesting stage.
We recommend planting your first batch in the first week of September, once they sprout we recommend planting another batch and following this approach all the way into the middle of February. This will give you a great harvest every 14 to 21 days for 6 to 7 months of the year!
Preparing your soil for growing carrots in Central Florida
For best results growing carrots, you will want loose soil with no rocks, stones, or roots from other plants. Soil should be loose all the way down to the length you expect them to grow, this will vary depending on the type of carrots you are growing. As a guide, the average length of carrots is about 7 inches. Your soil should be: deep (12 inch beds are sufficient), well-drained & fertile.
Planting carrot seeds and sprouting.
Start by creating a line in the soil where you will plant your carrots. You can use your finger or the handle of one of your garden tools, this line shouldn’t be deep, 1 centimeter is sufficient. Place your seeds about 2 inches apart, then sprinkle soil to cover the seeds. You want to cover your seeds with enough soil to ensure they do not get any sunlight, especially when watered or rained on! You also want to make sure you don’t have too much soil as this will make it harder and less likely for them to sprout.
The soil must remain moist for the sprouting period which requires watering every day or two if there is no rain, a smart irrigation system is the best way to go but hand watering is also relatively easy. It is important that the soil drains well as you do not want the seeds to be drowned.
Once your seedlings are about an inch tall make sure there is adequate spacing between each sprout. If you planted them 2 inches apart you should be fine but keep in mind that each carrot plant needs about 1 to 3 inches of growing space.
Growing carrots in your home garden.
Once they sprout carrots do not need as much watering as they did when they were seeds. Carrots need about an inch of water every week. In many cases, the rain may take care of it! If you do have a dry week, do water your carrots! When watering carrots it is important to water well enough to ensure the water reaches beyond the surface; this helps your carrots grow deep.
Harvesting your carrots in Central Florida.
Knowing when to pull those carrots up worries some of our clients! The truth is there is very little to worry about. Pulling a carrot a little early often just results in having slightly smaller carrots; it is pulling them too late that can be a problem! The easiest way to check if your carrots are ready to harvest is by feeling around in the soil a bit, once they are about a little shy of an inch in diameter they are likely ready to harvest. The vibrant orange color of a ready to harvest carrot is also a pretty good give away that the carrot is ready to make it’s way to your fork!
We generally do not recommend replanting carrots in the exact same spot multiple times, rotating the location helps reduce pest and disease problems!
Storing and preserving carrots
Carrots are pretty hardy and can last months when stored in a root cellar. Like most of us in Orlando and the neighboring cities in central Florida you probably don’t have a root cellar!
The refrigerator is a great place to store carrots but if you have a big harvest and prefer taking up less space in your refrigerator, you can pressure can, pickle them or freeze them!
If you decide to freeze your homegrown carrots we recommend peeling them, blanching them (stick them in boiling water for a few minutes), and chopping them up prior to freezing. This process is important and guarantees the best results!