Growing Carrots

Carrots are pretty much a staple of the vegetable garden and the kitchen. They are also one of the vegetables where home-grown taste significantly better than shop-bought - the flavour of a freshly-pulled carrot straight from the bed is one of the joys of vegetable growing.

Freshly harvested carrotsFreshly harvested Nantes 2 early carrots.

With careful selection of varieties and successional sowing, you can have fresh carrots for pretty much nine months of the year and you can meet your carrot needs for the other three months by keeping some in storage.

Carrot varieties

There are loads of carrot varieties with various cropping times, shapes and even colours. Some have resistance to the dreaded carrot root fly, so that’s worth looking for.

Early and maincrop varieties

Some varieties are “early” being ready for harvest about 12 weeks after sowing and can be sown as early as February under glass, while some are maincrop, ready after 16 weeks.

Popular early varieties include Nantes 2, Nantes 5, Amsterdam Forcing and Napoli.

Populare maincrop varieties include Fly Away, Chantenay, and Resistafly.

Late maincrop varieties

Late maincrop varieties are very hardy and can be left in the soil over winter and pulled when required (if the ground isn’t frozen).

Popular late maincrop carrot varieties include Autumn King (our favourite), and Flakkee.

Long, short and intermediate-rooted

The shape of the root is important in the choice of variety. Long-rooted varieties are largely for the show bench, so I’ll say no more on them.

Short-rooted varieties can be finger-shaped or golf ball shaped and are early varieties. They can be grown in pots and shallow soils (15cm minimum) because they don’t need such deep soil as intermediate-rooted varieties.

The intermediate-rooted varieties are the all-rounders (but not in shape!) and can be pulled young and used fresh or allowed to mature as maincrop carrots and stored for winter use.


Affected by many factors, of course, but from a 10ft row, expect 8lb of early carrots and 10lb of maincrop.

Rosemary Champion

About Rosemary Champion

Rosemary lives on a 12 acre smallholding in Angus, in the east of Scotland, where she keeps Ryeland Sheep, Shetland cattle and assorted poultry. She was destined to be a smallholder from an early age.

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