If you are planning on growing carrots in your garden this year, you might\nbe wondering how big they will get. That way, you can plan the number of\nplants and the amount of space you will need for your crop of carrots.\n\n\n\nSo, how big do carrots get? Carrots have roots that grow from 2 to 12\ninches (5.1 to 30 centimeters) long and up to 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) wide,\nand have green tops that can grow up to 12 inches above the ground.\n\n\n\nOf course, the quality of your carrots (if you get any at all!) depends on\nthe care that you give your plants. Let\u2019s take a closer look at carrots,\nincluding size, growing conditions, and time to maturity.\n\n\n\nHow Big Do Carrots Get?\n\n\n\nThe roots of some miniature varieties of carrots may only\nget 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.5 centimeters) long, while the roots of some can\nreach a length of 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 centimeters).\n\n\n\nSome carrots can grow up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) long, but other miniature varieties only reach a length of 2 to 3 inches.\n\n\n\nMost of the time, carrots can reach a width of 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5.1 centimeters) at most. The green tops of carrots grow above ground, and can reach a height of up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) above ground.\n\n\n\nHow Do You Know When to Harvest Carrots?\n\n\n\nYou should harvest carrots when they are 0.5 to 1.5 inches\n(1.3 to 3.8 centimeters) in diameter. Smaller\ncarrots will be sweeter and taste better.\n\n\n\nIf left to grow too long, or exposed to high temperatures,\ncarrots will grow hard and fibrous, and will be tough to eat. On the other hand, carrots taste much better\nafter a frost, since this encourages storage of sugar in the roots.\n\n\n\nIf carrots are left in the soil too long, they will get too big, and will become tough and fibrous, making them difficult to eat.\n\n\n\nDepending on variety, they take 55 to 80 days (8 to 12\nweeks) to grow from seed to mature carrot.\n\n\n\nFinally, remember that carrots can take 2 to 3 weeks to germinate, so don\u2019t worry if they don\u2019t sprout within the first week!\n\n\n\nWhy Are My Carrots So Small?\n\n\n\nThere are many possible reasons that your carrots are\nsmall. It could be that you chose a\nvariety that grows short, or it could be that the soil ran out of nutrients.\n\n\n\nA lack of proper spacing between plants can also cause small\ncarrots, due to competition with each other for nutrients and water. To solve this problem, thin your carrots\nafter planting.\n\n\n\nFor more information, check out my article on how to thin seedlings.\n\n\n\nCarrots may crack if they encounter alternating periods of too little water and too much water. Lack of water or nutrients can also stunt growth and keep carrots small.\n\n\n\nYou may get small carrots if the roots run into some type of\nhard object (such as a rock, root, or soil clump). However, this is more likely to cause\ndeformed carrots than small carrots.\n\n\n\nFor more information, check out my article on why carrots get small, bumpy, cracked, or deformed.\n\n\n\nWhat Do Carrots Look Like?\n\n\n\nWhen they are still growing, only the green tops of carrots\nare visible. These green tops look\nsomewhat like parsley or other herbs when they are young and small. As the carrots get older, the green tops grow\na longer stalk.\n\n\n\nCarrots come in all sizes and colors, but their basic shape is about the same.\n\n\n\nThe main root of a carrot is the part that we usually grow it\nfor. The roots are usually orange, but\nthere are many carrot varieties, some of which can have red, yellow, purple, or\neven white roots.\n\n\n\nAre Carrots Hard to Grow?\n\n\n\nCarrots are a hardy, cool season biennial. This means that if they are left in the\nground, they will produce seeds the 2nd year! Carrots are best planted in early spring.\n\n\n\nBefore sowing carrots seeds, make sure soil is smooth. There should be no rocks, roots, or soil clumps down to a depth of 1 foot (30 centimeters).\n\n\n\n For more information on how to sift rocks out of soil, check out my article on how to remove rocks from soil. \n\n\n\nA raised bed can work well as a place to keep sandy, smooth soil specifically for carrots.\n\n\n\nA raised bed can be a good place to keep dedicated soil for growing carrots.\n\n\n\nThe soil pH for carrots should be in the range of 6.0 to 6.8\n(slightly acidic). Do not use compost or\nmanure when growing carrots.\n\n\n\nSandy soil is smoother and softer, and is much better for\ngrowing carrots. It is ok to use mulch to\nprotect carrots tops from the sun.\n\n\n\nThere are many other factors that affect carrot growth, including\ntemperature, watering, fertilizing, and spacing. Let\u2019s start with\ntemperature.\n\n\n\nTemperature for Carrots\n\n\n\nThe minimum temperature for carrot seed germination is 40 degrees Fahrenheit\n(4.4 degrees Celsius). If the soil is any colder than this, you will see\nlow germination rates \u2013 that is, if you can get any seeds at all to germinate!\n\n\n\nThis is nature\u2019s way of protecting carrot seeds from sprouting at a time\nwhen they will be unable to survive.\n\n\n\nThe maximum temperature for carrot seed germination is 95 degrees Fahrenheit\n(35 degrees Celsius). If the soil is any warmer than this, germination\nrates will decrease.\n\n\n\nCombined with high humidity, high temperatures can encourage the growth of\nmold, which is another threat to your plants.\n\n\n\nYou should sow carrot seeds directly into the soil outdoors 3 to 5 weeks\nbefore the last spring frost date.\n\n\n\nCheck out this calculator from the Old Farmer\u2019s Almanac to find the last spring frost date in your area.\n\n\n\nThe ideal (optimal) temperature for carrot seed germination is between 65\ndegrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius) and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29.4\ndegrees Celsius).\n\n\n\nKeep in mind that these temperatures refer to soil temperature, not air\ntemperature. If you want to find out the soil temperature, use a\nprobe-type thermometer to check.\n\n\n\nIf the thermometer reads a temperature that is too low, then you have some\noptions. One option is to wait until the sun warms up the soil.\n\n\n\nTo speed up this process, clear away any debris, such as leaves or grass\nclippings, from the soil surface. Also make sure to choose a location for\nplanting that gets plenty of sun, so that it can warm up the soil faster.\n\n\n\nIf you are worried about a short growing season, you can also use a cloche\n(a plastic or glass cover) to trap some heat and warm up the air and soil near\nyour carrot seeds.\n\n\n\nA cloche can be made from a plastic water bottle to retain warmth and\nhumidity in the soil for seeds or seedlings as they grow. \n\n\n\nFor more information, check out the table below, and check out this\narticle from the University of California on ideal seed germination\ntemperatures.\n\n\n\n\n Seed \n Germination \n Temperature \n \n Temperature \n (degrees \n Fahrenheit) \n \n Temperature \n (degrees \n Celsius) \n \n Minimum \n \n 40 \n \n 4.4\n \n Ideal \n \n 65 to 85 \n \n 18.3 to 29.4 \n \n Maximum \n \n 95 \n \n 35 \n \n\n\n\nWatering for Carrots\n\n\n\nCarrots need regular watering. Keep\nthe soil moist by watering frequently and shallowly. This is especially important in sandy soil,\nwhich drains quickly and does not hold water for long.\n\n\n\nPutting mulch on top of your soil will help to retain moisture, especially\nduring periods of hot, dry weather. If you find that you have a problem\nwith dry soil, check out my article on how to treat dry soil.\n\n\n\nOn the other hand, over watering your carrot plants (or any plants for that\nmatter) can lead to root rot and eventual death. The best way to decide\nwhen to water is to feel the soil with your fingers.\n\n\n\nMake sure your carrots have consistent moisture, but don't over water them!\n\n\n\nIf the soil feels dry 2 or 3 inches below the surface, then go ahead and\nwater. For more information, check out my article on over watering your plants.\n\n\n\nTry to water early in the morning, rather than at night, to allow water to\nsoak into the soil before evaporating.\n\n\n\nFertilizing for Carrots\n\n\n\nYou should not add compost or manure to your soil before planting carrots. Instead, use sandy soil, as mentioned above.\n\n\n\nFor more information, check out my article on the best soil for growing carrots.\n\n\n\nAccording to the University of Maryland Extension, you should use 5-10-10 fertilizer prior to planting carrots.\n\n\n\nAfter planting, use a nitrogen-based fertilizer (such as 21-0-0) 6 weeks\nafter emergence of the carrot seedlings.\n\n\n\nFor more information, check out this article on carrots from the Utah State University Extension.\n\n\n\nSpacing for Carrots\n\n\n\nCarrots seeds should be sown directly into the ground\noutdoors. Do not transplant them, since\nthey are delicate when young, and the roots (the part you want to eat!) can be\ndamaged easily.\n\n\n\nSow carrot seeds 0.25 inches (0.6 centimeters) deep. When thinning, leave 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to\n10.2 centimeters) between plants.\n\n\n\nAlso, make sure to leave 1 foot (30 centimeters) between\nrows of carrots to allow space for watering, weeding, fertilizing, and\nharvesting.\n\n\n\nFor more information, check out this article on carrots from the Old Farmer\u2019s Almanac.\n\n\n\nConclusion\n\n\n\nBy now, you have a much better idea of how big carrots get, in terms of both\nthe root below ground and the greens above ground. You also know a bit\nmore about the care that is necessary to ensure a healthy crop of carrots in\nthis year\u2019s garden.\n\n\n\nI hope you found this article helpful \u2013 if so, please share it with someone\nelse who can use the information. If you have any questions or advice\nabout carrots, please leave a comment below.