Guide To Seeding Carrots: How To Give Carrots A Strong Start

Seeding carrots can be fun, since they are so small. A great way to plant carrot seeds is to enclose them in homemade seed tape. Learn how to do it.

carrot seedlings growing out of the ground
(Image credit: skiden / Getty Images)

Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables likely due to the fact that they are so versatile. Their versatility extends into the garden where they can populate small spaces including containers. Growing carrots from seeds isn’t difficult especially if you take some time to prepare your soil first. Plus planting carrots from seed allows the grower the opportunity to mix it up a little and select a different variety of carrot or even a different color! Read on to learn about planting carrots seeds.

When to Plant Carrot Seeds

Carrots are a cool season crop that when properly timed, can deliver two crops during the growing season. The first crop should be sowed directly into the garden 2-4 weeks before the last spring frost in your area.

For a second fall harvest, sow seeds in mid to late summer.

Carrots’ deep roots don’t make them good candidates for starting inside and then transplanting, so wait until the soil temperature outside is above 50 F (10 C) and directly sow your carrot seeds.

Preparing Soil for Seeding Carrots

I have had great luck growing carrots as long as they aren’t entering a beauty contest. My carrots tend to be crooked and misshapen but flavorful nonetheless. The reason is because I’m a bit lazy.

Carrots thrive in loose, sandy loam. The key to getting them to grow straight is to prepare the soil before planting. Remove any roots, rocks, or big chunks of plant detritus. Rake the soil until it is loose and free from debris.

How to Plant Carrot Seeds

Carrot seeds are itsy bitsy; about the size of a sharpened pencil lead. It is nearly impossible to sow the seeds to the proper distance or in a straight line so I don’t try. Don’t panic, the carrots can always be thinned out.

It is easiest to broadcast (lightly scatter) the seeds in a bigger garden bed or sprinkle them in as neat a row as you can manage. For rows, make a furrow that is about half an inch (1.3 cm) deep. About 18-20 seeds per foot in a row is sufficient. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and water them in.

Carrots will take anywhere from 2-3 weeks to sprout. Mark your row or garden bed so you won’t forget and sow something else or step all over the bed.

How to Use Carrot Seed Tape

If you are a perfectionist, hate to thin or can’t manage the tiny seeds, you have the option of using carrot seed tape. Carrot seed tape is simply a strip of two layers of tissue paper. The seeds are between the two layers of paper. This makes it easy to sow the tiny seeds without worrying about dropping them or getting them spaced correctly. All you need to do is lay out the tape and cut to fit the row. You can even use seed tape to follow curves or create designs in the garden.

How to Make DIY Carrot Seed Tape

And, you can make your own carrot seed tape. This is a bit of a time consuming DIY, but what else are you going to do during the frigid winter months?

All you need to make DIY seed tape is toilet paper, homemade paste of water and flour, a tiny artist's brush, seeds, and a tape measure or ruler. Roll out a length of toilet paper to fit a row.

Lay the paper out and dip the brush into the paste. You can then use the moistened brush to pick up the seeds one by one and place them on the paper at the prescribed distance for sowing or draw a line of glue down the paper and then using your fingers, pick up the seeds and place them at the correct distance.

Place the seeds more to one side of the toilet paper so you can fold the paper over length wise encasing the seeds. Roll up your seed tape and label it for future use.

Thinning Carrot Sprouts

If you’re not averse to thinning plants (I have a hard time with it) wait until the carrots are 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) tall. Look for those that appear scrawny, small, or are practically on top of each other. Thin the row or bed so the root veggies are about an inch (2.5 cm) apart.

This is important! Do NOT pull the carrot seedlings out to thin them. Remember, those tap roots don’t like to be disturbed. Instead, cut them as close to the soil surface as you can.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Just Scatter Carrot Seeds?

Yes, you can scatter carrot seeds. They are incredibly tiny so it is difficult to sow them in a straight line. Don’t worry, when the seedlings are 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) in height you can come back and thin them.

Should You Soak Carrot Seeds Before Planting?

There is no reason to soak carrot seeds in water prior to planting. The tiny seeds do not have an overly hard exterior so there is no reason to accelerate germination by soaking. Plus, they’re so incredibly small, there would be no way to separate them if they were wet.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.