How to Know When Carrots Are Ready to Harvest

How to Know When Carrots Are Ready to Harvest

Growing carrots in a home vegetable garden is a great way to reinforce healthy, sustainable eating in your family. 

Gardening skills take certain knowledge to cultivate, and it’s important to know when exactly to start pulling your carrots.

You can determine how ready your carrots are by measuring the diameter of the top of each plant’s root. You may even be able to see these tops sticking out of the soil.  

If you can’t see the root tops sticking out of the soil, just brush the soil off the bottom of each plant’s stem until you can. 


When to Harvest Carrots

Your carrots are ready to harvest when the roots have grown to about ¾ to 1 inch in diameter. You can just estimate this length, or you can use a measuring stick like a ruler to determine an exact measurement. 

This diameter indicates that the root, or tuber, below has matured in size enough to warrant pulling the plant and using it for food. 

To harvest your carrot tubers, gently loosen the soil around the root with a small garden tool. You’ll want to be careful as to not damage the tuber. Once the soil is loosened enough, you’ll be able to easily remove the entire plant intact from the soil. 

A freshly pulled carrot should be rinsed with water and vegetable wash as preparation before consumption.

How Long Does it Take for Carrots to Grow

Carrots take between 60 and 80 days after planting to mature for harvest.


This time frame begins the day of sowing a seed or a carrot root.

(Not just a young plant). 

This means that if you’re thinking of planting carrots in your garden, you could have fresh, home-grown carrots within 2 to 3 months of planting your seeds. 

What Do Carrots Look Like When They Sprout?

At first, your carrot plants will be small sprouts budding from the seed or carrot tuber that you have planted. 

As they grow, they will become taller, thin plants with multiple stalks, about 12 inches in height with 3-4 leaves. 

The leaves are also spindly in appearance, similarly looking to parsley leaves.

Carrot plants will be recognizable from other plants that spring up when starting your vegetable garden

How to Harvest Seeds From Carrots

Harvesting carrot seeds requires plants sown from open-pollinated seeds rather than artificially inseminated seeds. Plants from artificially inseminated seeds may or may not actually reproduce new seeds.

As a biennial plant, carrot plants will produce seeds in the 2nd season of their life cycle. 

This means that during the second spring in which they sprout, they will not just grow a stalk with leaves but also flowers. This flower is where the seeds will begin to form.

Carrot flowers are white and come in small bunches, so they’ll be easily recognizable when they appear.

You’ll actually want to leave these flowers and their seeds alone for as long as you can before you harvest your carrots.

This is so that naturally-occurring pollination can happen, with the help of friendly neighborhood pollinators and ecological systems.

Bees, wasps, and other insects will work together to pollinate the seeds in your carrot flowers, as well as any other flowers in the vicinity. 

Other factors like wind and rain also play a part in making this process happen.

Plants sexually reproduce their offspring with both seeds and pollen. Seeds must come in contact with pollen to be fertile and, therefore, active if and when they are placed in the ground. To facilitate pollination, be careful when using pesticides or other pest control methods in your home garden, and don’t react negatively when you see these insects show up.

Flying bugs can be startling, but remember that they’re just helping hands in this natural process, and they’re more concerned about themselves than they are with you.

So Just let them go about their business. 

By the end of the season when it is time for your carrots to be harvested, it is likely that your carrot flowers have been visited by a few pollinators. The seeds will be brown and dry, visible inside the center of the flowers that house them. You can remove the seed heads easily.

Let the seed heads dry completely in a ventilated container. When the heads are completely dry, separate the dry plant matter from the actual seeds. They will come apart effortlessly. 

Fertilized seeds can be stored in a cool, dry location until you’re ready to plant them.

How Long for Carrots to Germinate

Carrot plants take about 2 to 3 weeks to germinate. This is longer than the average vegetable garden plant. Carrot seeds need moist soil to germinate, so make sure you water your carrot seed beds consistently to make the habitat conducive to their germination.

Carrots can be planted directly in the ground, in raised garden beds, or in plant pots as long as they have enough depth to grow. 

How Much Water do Carrots Need

Just like during their seed stage, carrot plants need a decent amount of water to maximize their health. 

While they are seeds, you’ll want to give them about an inch of water per day to keep the soil adequately moist.

As they start to mature, increase this amount to about 2 inches of water in the soil of your carrot plants. This much water is necessary to feed the tuber that will grow underneath the soil.

Consistent watering, along with full sunlight, is the magic recipe for turning your carrot seeds into colorful and nutritious snacks and salad toppings.

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Written By Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas is a Master Gardener who edits and writes content for websites and magazines. Over the past two decades, she has been writing for The Doorstep about houseplants and indoor gardening. Since she started writing about plants, Sarah has been collecting rare and tropical plants. The Berkshire Botanical Garden awarded Sarah a certificate in horticulture in 2017.

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