Growing Carrots – Thinning Carrots

Earlier this spring my post about growing carrots described my technique of sowing lots of carrot seed in a big block to achieve the highest yields from a small space.  This year’s crop is growing well, the tops are pillowing the remay cloth up and out; it’s time for thinning carrots.

Remay pillow

Before I wrote this post I checked around online to see what sort of information was out there on the subject and – for Pete’s sake people!  Why make it so hard when it doesn’t have to be? There is much discussion about thinning carrots when they are 2” tall, or sowing the seeds two inches apart, or thinning exactly twice, heavy mulch to retain moisture, and so on…

It sounds like too much work!  And all for a couple of rows of tasty, garden fresh carrots.  No wonder people give up on growing carrots.  I mean sure, they taste waaay better fresh from the garden, but they’re pretty darn cheap from the supermarket, and the time investment is minimal.

Please, do yourself a favour and try my method – it’s less work and more productive, I promise!

Happy carrots growing under a blanket of Remay

Now that my carrots are big enough to give some value for the work, I will thin them for the first time.  After peeling the remay back I begin to work my way through the bed.  Fortunately we had a good rain just before I did this, or I would have watered the bed well before starting, it helps the carrots slide out of the ground more easily with less disruption to their neighbours.  The key is good soil prep, so that you have light, friable earth.

Crowded carrots before thinning

Gently parting the foliage so that I can see down to the surface of the soil, I begin pulling baby carrots, taking those that are too close to each other (and a lot of them are).  Given a choice I always take the bigger carrot, so that I get something worth eating, leaving the little guys to size up.

And after thinning

If I disturb the soil too much, gently patting it down around the remaining carrots ensures that sunlight won’t reach the roots and turn them green.  Of course the density of the carrot’s own foliage and the remay cloth covering them also helps protect the roots, as well as conserving moisture during hot summer days (if we ever get any).

Delicious baby carrots!

After thinning my way across the bed I have a pretty good feed of baby carrots for supper.  The remaining plants get tucked back under their blanket to continue growing.  From now on, anytime I want to harvest carrots, I’ll repeat this process, removing carrots that are too close to each other.  I’ve only removed a small percentage of the overall crop with this first thinning, and each time I will need to remove fewer carrots, as they grow larger and larger, to feed us.

And lots of carrots left to grow on...

If I had started thinning carrots when they were only 2” tall, as many suggested, I wouldn’t have anything worth snacking on.  And if I were growing my carrots in rows instead of blocks, I would have far fewer carrots than I do in this small space.  As it is, I have lots of tasty carrots to look forward to all summer, with precious little effort!

Tucked back in - safe from bugs and dogs. Notice how I've loosened the Remay to allow the carrot tops more room to grow.


About hortophile

I am a very opinionated, slightly obsessed gardener with decades of experience in the retail nursery industry. A lucky resident of the "Wet Coast" of British Columbia I tread a muddy path between practicality and beauty, with my veggie patch, herb garden and fruits vying for position with the beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers that I can't resist. DON'T ask me to choose between them! I believe in environmental responsibility and common sense.
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6 Responses to Growing Carrots – Thinning Carrots

  1. I love carrots, I planted some but my seeds were old, I have two 🙂

  2. barb19 says:

    What is a Remay blanket?
    I’ve tried to grow carrots without success and I live in a hot climate, any suggestions?

    • hortophile says:

      Remay is a light woven material very similar to interfacing (if you’re a sewer). If it’s useful where you live it should be available at local garden centres, ask them. I’m not sure if carrots grow well where you are, the climate here is anything but hot – especially this year! If water is in short supply you may find it difficult to grow carrots, they’re not particularly drought tolerant.

  3. barb19 says:

    Hey, thanks for getting back to me so quickly!
    I live in Australia, in the sub-tropics so it’s hot most of the time; our winters only go down to about 5C at night and 18C during the day. Our summers are hot (29C) and humid and lack of good rainfall is always a problem.
    I’ll check out my garden centre to see if they sell the Remay blanket cuz in spite of the problems I’ve encountered growing carrots, I’d like to keep trying.
    Thanks again for your help.

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