Can you grow carrots indoors?

Can you grow carrots indoors?

You can grow carrots indoors. Carrots are one of the easiest root vegetables that can be grown in a container indoors but you must use a container that’s at least 8 inches (200mm) deep. When carrots grow, they grow deep and need enough room downwards.

Carrots aren’t the fastest vegetable to grow. If you’re serious about growing carrots indoors you need to have enough space so that you can have them growing at different stages thus maintaining a regular supply.

Carrots need room to grow just like any root vegetable. So the containers for this need to have sufficient depth, width and length to make your carrot growing exercise viable. Depth is the most important dimension, depending on which variety you choose, carrots generally need 8 inches or more. The containers that you use need to be able to drain out water to avoid water logging.

Having a number of containers with batches of carrots growing at different stages would be an ideal arrangement provided that you have the space.

Growing carrots indoors – the method

After you’ve positioned a suitable container you will need a potting mix. Carrots grow best in a loose medium that drains well. So, find a potting mix that will provide this.

Growing carrots and other root vegetables require some fertilizer input. Carrots don’t need much nitrogen but they do need potash and phosphates. You need a compound fertilizer that has an N:P:K of 4:10:10 or 5:10:10. This should ensure that the carrots grow into filled-out, strong coloured roots.

Looking at growing carrots indoors

Whenever I ask about growing anything indoors I always get the helpful advice that there must be at least 6 to 8 hours of bright sunlight. Everything that I grow indoors must be huddled around the windows through which the sun will come pouring in. That is, if the sun shines at all.

I’m sure that there are plenty out there who will say that they get plenty of sunlight through their windows and that they can grow plenty of carrots and everything else.

For the rest of us there is a simple option that tackles the issue of making sure that the carrots we grow get enough light. LED panels are the answer. It’s not free but it does ensure a constant high-quality light level that will keep everything under it growing.

Can you grow carrots indoors?_02

Growing carrots from seeds indoors

Some people like to grow their carrots from seeds by planting individual seeds in trays that form plugs which are then taken out and transplanted into a container. The carrots will then grow on from there.

You can grow carrots this way but the transplanting of carrots from one place to another may interfere with how the carrots grow. The fine roots of the early stages on carrots are very delicate.

With that in mind it’s better to grow carrots and most other vegetables by sowing the seed straight into the potting mix in the container. Carrots will grow this way without any hindrances.

Fill the container with the potting mix. This is the time to add the compound fertilizer. There should be guidance that comes with the fertilizer as to how much to use.

You don’t need to plant the seeds very deep. Make holes no more than ¼ inch deep and spaced at 2 inches apart in the surface of the potting mix.

You can grow carrots indoors

Put 2 or 3 seeds in each hole then sprinkle over some potting mix to cover. This can then be watered but don’t be heavy with it as it may disturb the seeds positions. Use a water spray and keep the surface moist for the next 2 weeks when you can expect to see signs of germination, however some carrots may take 3 weeks. 

As the seedling carrots grow you will be able to see which plants look strongest and have potential. Snip off the surplus smaller carrots with a sharp pair of scissors. This should leave you with a container with carrots growing 2 inches apart all over the surface of the container.

From this point on all that’s required is regular watering. To keep the carrots growing you need to ensure that enough moisture gets down to the root tips. When watering, carefully trickle the water onto the plants to avoid disturbing or washing away the potting mix.

One way or another your carrots have to get 6 hours of light each day for them to grow at a good enough rate. If sunlight through a window won’t do it, then it will have to be from an artificial LED lighting system.

Lighting needs to be a point of focus when you see green shoots growing from the surface. This can take up to 3 weeks but some report that where artificial light is applied at the pre-germination stage, this can stimulate growth with shoots emerging in just 1 week.

Using LED lights is an art. These are often referred to as ‘grow lights’. The trick is to place the lights about 2 or 3 inches above the growing carrots. The spectrum of light is also important. Use full white light or a mixture of red and blue light to encourage the carrots to grow to their full potential.

An LED grow light system is better than using fluorescent light which tends to generate heat. Artificial light systems need to be near to the growing point where excessive heat may risk wilting the growing seedling.

Looking at how to grow carrots indoors

The light source needs to be near the growing point because having it too far away will encourage the seedling to become ‘leggy’ as it tries to grow as fast as it can towards any light source. If a seedling is allowed to grow in such a way, the tops of the carrots will become floppy.

As the seedlings grow with a low positioned light, you need to gradually raise the grow light to avoid direct contact. Aim to keep 2 or 3 inches between the grow light and the growing carrots.

In addition to keeping the lights on for 6 to 8 hours a day, some have found success by introducing a fan to operate for just a few hours in a day. Blowing air at the growing carrots will be like introducing wind. This acts as a trigger to the plant to strengthen the stems by growing thicker.

Some have had the same success by physically touching the plants with their fingers. This creates the same level of disturbance as wind.

Can you grow carrots indoors?_03

Harvesting carrots grown indoors

If all goes well, and it will, you will find yourself pulling out carrots which you can tell everyone that you’ve grown indoors.

When you’ve had success with your first container, you will be looking to set up another growing-unit to grow even more carrots indoors. The best guide is to let a month go by after you’ve planted your first container of carrots before setting up another container. This will keep you going with a succession of carrots to harvest.

Another approach to keeping a supply of carrots growing is to plant seeds in the spaces where you’ve harvested carrots in the first container. The new seeds need to be about an inch apart from the carrots that are still growing and soon to be harvested.

As the fully grown carrots are harvested, new seeds can be introduced to fill in the gaps that are left. If you follow this routine, you need to add more compound fertilizer as you replace new seeds for harvested carrots. You will also need to pull up the mature carrots taking care not to disturb the young seedlings nearby.

After every 2 or 3 crops of carrots it would be wise to replace the potting mix and add fertilizer. The potting mix will become spent out after a while.

Get this right and you could easily be harvesting carrots indoors throughout the entire year.

Can carrots grow indoors? Yes!

How to store carrots under water

One of the problems many people have is storing carrots after they’ve been harvested. If you grow carrots indoors or out in the garden you have a bit of an advantage because you don’t need to harvest them until you want to use them.

Carrots can stay in the soil where they have been growing for a long time without deteriorating. If you find yourself with a load of carrots that need to be stored for a couple of weeks or possibly longer, there is a way of storing them that some people use to keep them fresh and crisp.

Find a plastic bucket with a lid. Wash the carrots thoroughly (If they’ve come from a supermarket they should be clean enough), and place them in the bucket. Fill  the bucket with water to the point where the level is about an inch above the carrots. The carrots must be completely submerged.

The water needs to be changed at least once a day, preferably twice a day. That would be once in the morning, for during the day, then again in the evening for through the night. When carrots are under water no air can get them to allow any deterioration. Changing the water will ensure that no bacteria can build up to challenge the carrots.

I’ve tried this with some success but I’m not too happy about leaving the carrots underwater for too long. I worry that some of the nutrients in the carrots may leach out into the water and be lost.

The much preferred way, for me, is the idea of having a box or bucket of sand or loose soil and burying the carrots in this. The sand or soil needs to be damp but not wet. This will keep the carrots alive and stop them from drying out. A good sign that this system works is when you pull the carrots out and see fine root-hairs growing out.

There’s a modern way of growing plants indoors

Growing plants of any kind in an indoor garden will require an element of artificial light to have any chance of production.

This is where modern, specially designed, indoor gardens have a place. LED (light-emitting diodes) light bulbs are a highly efficient low-energy way of generating light. This is ideal for an indoor garden. With careful management and planning, modern indoor gardens can produce leafy vegetables all year round. 

There is the added bonus of a spectacular, well-lit, display of growing plants that can become food. It’s also possible to grow small fruits including tomatoes and peppers in a modern indoor garden. Find out more about indoor gardens.

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Image sources: carrots 1 | carrots 2 | carrots 3

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