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MichaelC
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Carrots in containers

I did a bit of searching, and while I discovered a few things, I didn't easily find any existing topics on this subject. I hope a thread will be fruitful for later seekers.

My daughter is gung ho about growing carrots, so I want to encourage her. But I don't have room in my small garden plan. So, I'm hoping to instead grow her carrots in a bunch of five gallon pails I've got sitting around, originally purposed for fall broccoli years back. They are about 12" wide and 16" tall I'm fairly confident that we can produce some sort of passable carrot crop using these.

I have very little experience growing vegetables in containers. Here are my questions:

Is this plan doomed? Search results suggest it is not, but I'm open to other opinions. I'm interested in success, not a dashed hope.

What varieties of carrots are know to do well in less vertical space? Should I stick to shorter carrots, say 6"? Might stricter thinning than normal be desired, because of the shorter than natural vertical space for roots?

Any recommendations about the desired mix? I do know good drainage is a strong factor.

After how long should fertilizing begin, and then at what rate and amount? What nutrients are particularly important for carrots?

Should this be successful, and since carrots are year round here, at what interval would it be better for me to empty the pots and start over?

catgrass
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Re: Carrots in containers

I am in zone 9-don't know what zone you are in-but I will tell you my experience. I've never had much success with carrots until this year. The soil needs to be very friable. I planted in a container approximately 2 ft long x 8inches wide by 1 ft. deep. I used a mix of potting soil and garden soil. I planted "Little Fingers" seed-which when mature are about the size of a finger or a little larger. In my area, the seeds were planted mid October and we pulled the last ones Mid March. Every 3 or 4 waterings I used Miracle Grow mixed in the water. It worked well enough that the 9 year old boy next door had enough "snack" carrots to eat on when he came over to harvest. Next year I will do 2 or more containers as my garden soil is not "loose" enough.
zone 9 Southwest La.

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Allyn
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Re: Carrots in containers

I'm in zone 8 and I grow carrots in 5-gallon SiPs (sub-irrigation planter--basically they're modified 5-gallon buckets from Home Depot) with good success. I use a "1/3 mix" -- 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 organic compost and 1/3 vermiculite and/or perlite. I'll plant 9 or 10 in a bucket.

If you scan the container gardening threads, you'll find other discussions about carrots in 5-gallon buckets. I grow Laguna carrots and so far, I'm very pleased.

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MichaelC
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Re: Carrots in containers

I'm going to get this started tomorrow. Hopefully it's not going to get too hot for starting them. I decided to go with a good brand organic potting soil. I didn't realize how relatively inexpensive it is. If it seems to be working I'll do five buckets altogether.

Thanks for the search tip, Allyn. I'll have a looksie.

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Re: Carrots in containers

A five gallon bucket should be deep enough to plant any length carrot but they do need very soft soil. A good potting mix should work. You need to be careful with fertilizer, you need a littel but too much nitrogen will cause forkning. Probably a good candidate for some manure tea. The thing with carrots is not to crowd them. which means you have to thin to 2 inches apart minimum. Since this is a cirular bucket it makes sense to plant them in a circle not in a row and you want to offset them to give them a little extra room.

There are pelleted carrot seeds which will make it easier to plant but they do cost more. We have grown Nelson carrots and they have been very good and they are sweet
http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-8148-nelson.aspx
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MichaelC
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Re: Carrots in containers

Allyn wrote:I'm in zone 8 and I grow carrots in 5-gallon SiPs (sub-irrigation planter--basically they're modified 5-gallon buckets from Home Depot) with good success.
OK, I find this intriguing, and started learning about it. I think I'm going to try it with peppers on my next set of them.

Does the method outlined in this video seem sound to you? -> https://youtu.be/LWkg5ttOm5I
Here's another, smaller variation from the same guy: -> https://youtu.be/GEVch6QQxGU

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Allyn
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Re: Carrots in containers

What he's done in the video is just about the same as what I do when making the SiP. A few details are different.

I don't use the net cup. It looks very handy to use, but I save plastic containers -- like from grated cheese or peanut butter -- and then use a hacksaw to cut them to the right height and a cheapo soldering iron to make a lot of holes in them. I already have the containers and I already have the soldering iron (and my husband is absolutely paranoid to not be seen anywhere near a hydroponics store) that it's cost effective for me to make my own 'toe.' I call it the 'toe' because it sticks down in the water....you know....stick your toe in the water? But I digress.

I like to lay a sheet of landscape fabric on the bottom of the inner bucket so the potting mix doesn't fall through the holes. I have to cut it like a donut with a hole in the middle so it doesn't interrupt the wicking action in the toe.

I drill two holes in the outer bucket -- one like he showed right below the reference line he drew and a second hole right below that first hole. The water drains out of the bottom hole and then there is about a 1/2-inch air gap between the top of the water in the reservoir and the bottom of the inner bucket holding the potting mix. I don't know if that's essential. When I was looking at instructions for building the SiP, it was stressed how important that air gap is. In the video, he has a gap, but it is very small. I don't know if it makes a difference, but I went with the larger air gap. I also drill a total of three air holes spaced kinda evenly around the bucket below the reference line so I get good air circulation in the air gap.

I use a soil-less mix. I don't know how well potting 'soil' will wick the water up into the potting mix.

I don't know why he only filled the bucket halfway with his potting mix. I would fill it all the way up. (After watching the second video, though, I see he wants the roots to come out the bottom for a hydroponics thing.)

There is a thread on SiPs in the container gardening thread. It's a good read.

I can't speak to that second video. He's doing a kinda of hydroponics thing that I'm not familiar with. Sub-irrigation is a little different than hydroponics.
Last edited by Allyn on Fri Apr 08, 2016 6:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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MichaelC
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Re: Carrots in containers

Thanks so much for all the info, Allyn. He explained in the comments something about getting the roots to the reservoir more quickly, and then filling in the top more later.

I'm highly intrigued, for the carrot project but particularly about the ease this would add to overwintering peppers. I'm also frankly interested in the hydroponic angle the 2 gallon pail video suggests.

Potting soil is what I've got right now, so I'll have to give it a think.

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Re: Carrots in containers

I have used potting soil in sips and it works. I like to add a little more perlite to mine.
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MichaelC
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Re: Carrots in containers

An update. The transplants are doing well. They went into an ordinary 5 gallon bucket. I've constructed two 5 gallon SIPs. My daughter and I filled one and seeded it on Tuesday. Yesterday, one of the seeds had already sprouted, in one day! Is that at all common? I was extremely surprised.
Last edited by MichaelC on Fri Apr 15, 2016 3:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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applestar
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Re: Carrots in containers

Take some pictures! Let's see 8)
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MichaelC
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Re: Carrots in containers

applestar wrote:Take some pictures! Let's see 8)
I've got a lot on my plate, and little daylight left. Hopefully tomorrow.

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Re: Carrots in containers

Count me among those that have had great success growing carrots in buckets. I live on top of a shale hill. Where I have soil at all, it's not deep and it's full of rocks. I have essentially one little area with soft deep soil, and when I tried carrots there the slugs mowed the little seedlings to the ground over one night. Lol. Buckets work awesome!

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Allyn
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Re: Carrots in containers

MichaelC wrote:An update. The transplants are doing well. They went into an ordinary 5 gallon buckets. I've constructed two 5 gallon SIPs. My daughter and I filled one and seeded it on Tuesday. Yesterday, one of the seeds had already sprouted, in one day! Is that at all common? I was extremely surprised.
It'll happen. Sometimes you'll find a seed that's just rarin' to go.

And yes, pictures! We want to see pictures!

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MichaelC
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Re: Carrots in containers

I made some time. Your wish is my command!

The two containers, one a plain bucket and the other a two bucket SIP:
plainbucket.jpg
sip.jpg
Close up of transplants in the regular bucket:
transplants.jpg
Finally, a couple shots of the one-day sprouts - it looks like there are two of them. You may need to view the pictures full size:
one day sprout1.jpg
one day sprout 2.jpg

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Re: Carrots in containers

Looks like your daughter will have some awesome homegrown carrots! :)
Nothing really beats your homegrown produce.
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kayjay
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Re: Carrots in containers

A little off topic from how this thread was going, but someone here - I think it was someone in India - was growing carrots in pieces of PVC pipes! I thought that was a cool idea. I wonder how they'll turn out, and if s/he had success with that in the past or if it was just an experiment.
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MichaelC
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Re: Carrots in containers

That sounds so crazy it just might work!

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Re: Carrots in containers

Will probably work fine in small pipes, but will need alot of watering i guess. In UK the like to grow in big waterbarrels (they grow very long and large kinds to show of at competitions).
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished - Lao Tzu

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MichaelC
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Re: Carrots in containers

The non-SIP bucket:
carrots.jpg

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MichaelC
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Re: Carrots in containers

So here's that regular bucket of carrots now:

Image

The SIP is a few weeks behind.

Allyn, can you describe to me how you start your seedlings and transplant them? It seems to have worked out pretty well. But I am an utter beginner when it comes to growing from seed, and any details you can provide will be helpful and appreciated.

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Allyn
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Re: Carrots in containers

Your carrots look wonderful! :)

I hydrate jiffy pellets and then put a seed in each one. I put them under lights in the house until they have a set of true leaves. My grow-shelf set up has ventilation fans that blow across the seedlings. I turn the fans on once I remove the humidity dome as soon as I see some sprouts. I use a little apple cider vinegar in the water to keep the jiffy pellets from getting moldy.

Once I see a set of true leaves, I rip out the bottom of the jiffy sac prior to planting. If I don't, the carrot will grow through the bottom of the sac, but it'll have a weird 'waist' where the sac was restricting it. I'll either plant the whole thing in the SiP with a bunch of his friends or if the SiP isn't ready, I'll plant in solo cups to hold until it is ready.

That's what *I* do. I know other folks have very different experiences and do things differently, so I'm hoping folks will jump in and share their system with you. I haven't had luck direct sowing, but for other folks, that's the only way they do it.

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MichaelC
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Re: Carrots in containers

I thought I'd drop in a photo of a few of the carrots.
ca.jpg

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applestar
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Re: Carrots in containers

Very nice! :D I'd call that a success. Image
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Re: Carrots in containers

Congratulations are in order, it would seem - Great colour too!

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Allyn
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Re: Carrots in containers

Excellent!

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Re: Carrots in containers

thought I'd revisit this thread and put in a picture of my harvest of carrots grown in 5 gallon buckets. We've been eating them all summer, but I went and pulled the rest today to free up the buckets for a fall crop. The biggest of the bunch are 4 or 5 inches long....

Image

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KitchenGardener
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Re: Carrots in containers

They look fantastic - congrats!

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applestar
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Re: Carrots in containers

You said bucket(s) pl. -- how many buckets for those number of carrots?
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Re: Carrots in containers

5 five gallon buckets, planted heavily...lol

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kayjay
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Re: Carrots in containers

Wow, that's amazing! I sort of wrote off carrots because they're so cheap in the fall (I'm going for max $ value in my tiny space) but that's a pretty good haul!
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Allyn
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Re: Carrots in containers

Woohoo!!! Nice job!

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Re: Carrots in containers

You people celebrating my harvest clearly haven't been in your kitchen scrubbing carrots the last two nights.... :lol: :wink: :lol: :wink: :lol:

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