Growing Carrots In A DIY Hydroponic Garden
Do you want to learn how to grow carrots using hydroponics? You can easily make a hydroponic system for your carrots, and this article will walk you through how to grow carrots in this soil-less system in your home or backyard.
To grow carrots using hydroponics, choose a container and drill 60mm (1/4inch) holes around it about 8cm (3inch) up from the bottom. Place the container in a sunny location and fill it with a mix of 2/3 perlite and 1/3 vermiculite. Make sure this growing medium is at least 30cm (12inches) deep. Plant your carrot seeds 1cm (1/2inch) deep. Water your carrot seeds with a nutrient solution until they germinate, and then fill the container with nutrient solution until it comes out of the holes you drilled. Sprinkle the growing carrots with nutrient solution 2 to 3 times a day until harvest.
A self-sufficient garden does not have be grown in the ground. Hydroponic gardening is a great way to grow carrots in a controlled setting while still producing a great tasting vegetable from your own “garden.”
Growing Carrots Hydroponically
In a hydroponic garden, carrots are not grown in the soil but are suspended in a growing medium that is fed liquid nutrients that the carrot absorbs as it is growing. There are many advantages to growing a hydroponic garden. Most specifically, you can grow it anywhere even if you don’t have any soil for a “real” garden. It can be on a balcony, in a backyard, or even in your house. It is particularly beneficial with carrots because it eliminates soil bourne critters who love eating carrots, such as carrot flies or small burrowing animals.
We are going to discuss how to make a small hydroponic garden, but the same principles apply if you want to make it on a larger scale. Here are 5 steps to grow carrots in your home-made hydroponic garden:
- Choose a container for your hydroponic garden
- Fill the container with a growing medium
- Mix the nutrient solution
- Plant the carrots
- Feed the carrots
1. Choose A Container For Your Hydroponic Garden
You can use any container to grow carrots using hydroponics as long as the sides are at least 30cm (12inches) high. A large Rubbermaid tote makes is an ideal container. Bear in mind that it might be a bit heavy to move once you have the nutrient solution in it, but it gives you enough space to grow a decent crop of carrots. If you want a more portable container, a 5-gallon bucket might be a good fit, but you can use any shape and size container that you want.
To prepare your container for hydroponic growing, drill 3 to 4 holes on each side about 8cm (3inches) up from the bottom. Make the holes about 60mm (1/4inch) in diameter.
Place the container in a sunny location. Carrots do best with 12 to 16 hours of light per day and prefer 7°C to 30°C (45°F-86°F). If you are growing indoors, make sure to have a tray underneath to catch any liquid that might drain out the holes.
2. Fill The Container With A Growing Medium
There are many different growing mediums that work with hydroponics, but the best for carrots is a mix of perlite and vermiculite. These minerals are processed under very high heat which causes them to expand until they become very light and airy. Perlite provides good aeration for your hydroponic carrots and vermiculite aids with water retention.
There are other mediums that work well for hydroponic growing, but these two are the best for carrots and other root vegetables. Perlite and vermiculite are both very coarse and light, and the carrot’s taproot pushes them out of the way as it grows.
For growing your carrots, use a mix of 2/3 perlite and 1/3 vermiculite. Fill your container at least 30cm (12inches) deep with this mix to provide sufficient space for the carrots’ roots.
3.Mix The Nutrient Solution
There are many different nutrient solutions you can use. Most purchased solutions come as concentrates in either liquid or powder form, and the solutions are diluted with water to the proper concentrations. Bottled water or rainwater works well. City tap water can be used, but leave it exposed to the air for 24 hours (or at least overnight) to de-chlorinate before mixing with the solution.
For germinating and young carrot seedlings, use a concentration of about 750 to 850 ppm, and gradually increase the concentration. When the carrots are growing, the nutrient solution should be mixed at a concentration of about 1,120 to 1,400 ppm.
You can make your own nutrient solution, and there are many recipes online to get you started. If you want to go the most natural route, a solution can be made from compost tea.
Whether you use a store-bought or homemade solution, it is important to check and monitor the PH levels. Carrots prefer a PH between 6 and 7, and your solution should be adjusted accordingly.
4. Plant The Carrots
Water your perlite/vermiculite mix so that the top layer is damp. Sprinkle on your carrot seeds. Try and space them so they are about 1cm (1/2) apart, but don’t worry too much as you will probably have to thin them later anyways. Now, cover your seeds with a 1cm (1/2inch) layer of perlite.
While the seeds are germinating, keep the top layer of the mix continuously damp by watering lightly with your nutrient solution. Carrots need a damp environment but they do not need it wet, and they will quickly rot if they are left in standing water. They will also germinate faster and better if you keep them fairly warm (20°C is ideal but not necessary).
5. Feed The Carrots
Once the carrots have germinated, fill the bottom of the container up to the holes you drilled with nutrient solution. Be particularly careful when doing this indoors in case the solution runs out of the holes and makes a mess. Now the carrots will be able to draw from this store of nutrients as they grow. Even so, it is important to lightly water the carrots 2 or 3 times a day with more solution to keep the top layer moist and to replenish the solution in the container.
Once the seedlings are established, thin them so they have about 8cm (3inches) between them to give them room to grow and mature.
To harvest, hydroponic carrots can be pulled out of the container, given a rinse (if you want), and enjoyed. You don’t even have any dirt to wash off. Most carrots take about 70 days to reach maturity and they will be ready to harvest around that time. You can always sneak out a few young carrots while you are waiting.