How and When to Plant Carrots in the UK

Home-grown carrots are packed full of vitamins and bring not just great taste but the satisfaction of having nurtured them from seed to harvest. They’re relatively easy to grow and, if you sow them regularly, you can be harvesting them almost year round. So if you’re wondering when to plant carrots in the UK, and how to grow carrots, this guide will give you all the key information you’ll need.

6 March 2024

After-school snacks, crunchy crudites, summer salads or Christmas crackers, carrots are one of the most versatile root veggies, and nothing tastes better than knowing you’ve grown them yourself.

Indeed, growing carrots is a great outdoor activity for novice newbies and green-fingered gardeners alike. They can be grown in pots and in gardens of all shapes and sizes, so let’s find out when to sow carrot seeds in the UK to ensure a bountiful harvest. If you want to know when to grow carrots in the UK, our guide will cover all the key points you need to get growing.

When to Sow Carrot Seeds in the UK

Heritage carrots (Credit: Helen Cathcart via Getty Images)

The best time to sow carrots in the UK is typically from early spring to late summer, to allow for a continuous harvest from summer through to early winter.

Knowing when to grow carrots in the UK varies due to the notoriously unpredictable weather, but you can start sowing early carrot varieties under cloches or in a greenhouse as early as February, if the soil isn’t frozen and can be worked.

For outdoor sowing without protection, it’s usually recommended to wait until March or April when the soil has warmed up a bit. Successive sowings can be made every few weeks until late summer to ensure a continuous crop.

The Main Types of Carrots

Fresh, farmer's market carrots in three different vibrant colours. (Credit: Allison Achauer via Getty Images)

There are early varieties of carrots that are suitable for sowing earlier in the season. They often mature quickly and can be harvested sooner than maincrop varieties. Some examples of early carrot varieties that do well in the UK climate include:


These are known for their sweet flavour and crisp texture. They’re fast-growing and can be harvested as early as 50-60 days after sowing.

Amsterdam Forcing

This variety is specifically bred for early sowing and quick maturation. It produces small, sweet carrots that are ideal for early summer harvests.


These are perfect for growing in cold frames and usually ready for harvest within 65 – 70 days.

When to sow carrot seeds in the UK depends largely on the weather, but most maincrop carrot varieties are designed for later sowing and harvesting, providing larger roots suitable for storage over the winter months. These varieties typically have a longer growing season than earlies, maturing in 100-120 days or more. When sown from March onwards, they can be harvested from late summer through to autumn.

Some popular maincrop carrot varieties that can be sown from March onwards in the UK include:

Autumn King

This is one of the most popular maincrop varieties, known for its large, long roots and excellent storage capabilities. It has a deep orange colour and a sweet flavour, making it versatile for both raw and cooked uses.


A large, robust variety producing long, thick carrots. It’s well-suited for heavier soils and stores well, making it a good choice for winter use.


Known for its tolerance to carrot fly and its ability to produce very large roots, Another excellent choice for storage. It has a strong, sweet flavour.


Some Chantenay varieties can be sown as maincrops due to their good storage properties. They have a shorter, stump-ended root, which makes them particularly suited to growing in heavy or shallow soils.

Growing Carrots

Planting carrots in the garden. (Credit: Emily Suzanne McDonald via Getty Images)

When we’re discussing how to grow carrots in the UK, gardeners will know that it’s a rewarding process that can yield a plentiful harvest if you follow some basic steps. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

Choosing the Right Variety

Earlies, as the name suggests, are suitable for early sowing (from February under cloches or fleeces, or from March to April outdoors). Maincrop varieties can be sown from March onwards, and are ideal for later harvesting and storage.

Preparing the Soil

Carrots prefer light, well-drained soil. Avoid heavy clay soils or soils with lots of stones. Before sowing, use a fork to loosen the soil to a depth of at least 30 cm (12 inches). Remove stones and break up large clumps, as smooth soil helps grow straight roots. Avoid fresh manure or high-nitrogen fertilisers, which can cause ‘forking’, the process of the root of the vegetable splitting into two parts, or forks. Lightly work in a balanced, organic fertiliser before sowing if needed.

Sowing the Seeds

We know when to sow carrot seeds in the UK, but here’s how to sow them. Sow seeds thinly in drills (shallow grooves) about 2 cm (1 inch) deep, spaced 30 cm (12 inches) apart. If you’re sowing early, consider using cloches or fleece to warm the soil. Gently water the drills before sowing if the soil is dry. After sowing, cover the seeds lightly with soil and water gently. Once seedlings are large enough to handle (usually when they’re about 5 cm tall), thin them out to about 5-10 cm apart to allow enough room for the roots to grow. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water in the early morning or late evening to reduce evaporation and weed the area around the plants by hand to avoid disturbing the roots.

Pest Control

Carrot fly is a common pest. Reduce the risk by not thinning seedlings in the middle of the day when the flies are most active, using insect-proof mesh, or planting resistant varieties.

Harvesting & Storage

Most early varieties are ready between 50 and 80 days from sowing, and maincrops are typically ready to harvest from around 16 weeks onwards, through late summer into autumn. Carrots are ready when they’re of a good size, but you can gently unearth the top of one to check its size. Harvesting can be done by gently pulling them out of the ground, using a fork if necessary to loosen the soil. Maincrop carrots can be stored in a cool, dark place, ideally in boxes of damp sand or peat to prevent drying out. They can last several months if stored properly.

Growing Carrots at Home

Freshly harvested carrots, grown at home in the garden. (Credit: Adam Hester via Getty Images)

Knowing when to plant carrots in the UK and how to grow carrots can be a rewarding experience. Sowing at the right time and by following the guide for planting and care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of cracking carrots!


You May Also Like

Explore More