Yes, yes you do!
Many well-meaning folks will tell you thinning carrots isn’t necessary, but it all depends on what your end goals are. If you don’t mind lots of tiny carrots (which can be very tasty) with only the occasional “keeper” for storage, then yes, thinning isn’t necessary.
However, if your goal is an abundance of long, thick carrots for a main harvest for winter cold storage, freezing or canning, then thinning is a must. Crowded carrots can’t grow to their full potential.
Thinning carrots can be a tedious job, but there are some steps you can take to make it less of a task.
From the start, try to restrain yourself from over seeding. Carrot seeds are so micro-tiny, it can be tempting to just broadcast handfuls down the row. However, not only is this a huge waste of seed, it will also mean a huge amount of time spent thinning later.
Carefully space your carrots seeds just over a cm (half an inch) apart from the start, and then later thin (*or harvest baby carrots) to allow for 5 cm (2 inches) between each carrot to give them ample room to grow. This spacing allows for the odd seed that fails to germinate, while still minimizing the amount of thinning down the road.
*If you are quick and diligent early in the season, the strategic act of harvesting “baby” carrots will allow enough shoulder room for neighbouring carrots to grow to full size.
Thinning carrots doesn’t have to be tedious. It can be relaxing and meditative. Make yourself comfortable, listen to music, a podcast or best of all, simply tune into the sounds of nature in your garden as you work. Like so much in life, it is all about your attitude!
The fabulous part of growing your own groceries is the opportunity to try varieties not often found at the local grocery store like these Cosmic Purple Carrots.