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  • Writer's pictureMatt Suprunowicz

How to Thin Carrots

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

How do we choose which carrots to keep and which to dispose of?


This Lesson Plan is part the Nutrition Module of SustainEd Farms' virtual programming.

Background: Thinning Carrots

Carrots have very small seeds and are therefore difficult to spread by hand without using too much seed. As a result, many gardeners must thin their carrots -- and other crops, too, like beets, radishes, and salad greens -- in order for the crop to reach maturity. Without enough space to grow, the carrots will end up quite small. Thinning helps manage the eventual harvest of the crop, while also allowing the carrots to reach a desirable size.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to...

  • Thin carrot seedlings

  • Understand the need for and benefit of thinning crops

Academic Vocabulary

thin /THin/ verb. - to clear an area of intentionally planted plants to allow room for other plants to grow


1. Gather your materials. You will need the following:

carrot seedlings · scissors or pruners (optional)

2. Watch the following Youtube video to see a demonstration of how to thin carrot seedlings. Then, follow along with the remainder of the lesson by reading the steps below.

Are your crops ready for thinning? … Carrots should be thinned when they are around 3 - 4 inches tall, and then potentially again in a few weeks time.

3. Wet the ground where your carrots are growing. This will help loosen the roots to avoid unnecessary pulling and tugging on plants, which could damage carrots that you want to keep.

💧What does thinning do? … Thinning crops decreases competition between plants for nutrients and water, allowing the selected crops -- the strongest looking plants -- to occupy more space. It also increases airflow in the canopy, keeping plants free of disease.

4. Observe the carrots, and locate the strongest (taller, thicker, greener) looking plants. These are the plants that will be kept.

5. Using your thumb as a guide, remove any smaller, weaker carrot seedlings that are within a thumb’s width distance of the healthiest carrot plant. Pull the carrots out of the ground while being mindful of the other carrots that remain in order to avoid disturbance in the root zone.

6. Repeat this procedure for all of the carrot seedlings, keeping at least a thumb’s width distance between the healthiest carrots.

7. For the carrots that remain, fill any exposed part of the carrot roots with soil. The sun can damage the tops of the carrots otherwise.

Additional Resources:

Download the PDF version of this lesson plan:

How to Thin Carrots
Download PDF • 1.46MB

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