Carrots are root vegetables that are often considered to be the perfect healthy food choice. They contain lots of beta carotene and vitamin A which helps improve eyesight and are absolutely fantastic for those suffering from macular degeneration or cataract.
They have various varieties, including
- Danvers: These are long, thin with tapering roots. They are typically orange but available in more shades.
- Nantes: These are almost perfectly cylindrical, have sparse foliage and almost red color.
- Imperator: This is the most commercially grown carrot variety. They have longer, more tapering roots than other carrot varieties.
- Chantenay: This variety only reaches up to 6-7 inches long, and hence is short and broad in shape.
All of these varieties and some others like Bolero, Little Finger and Thumberline can be easily grown at home.
Although carrots are available in your local supermarket all year long, they actually have a season most suitable for them to grow. They are considered to be a cool-season crop, which means it is best to sow them when the soil temperatures reach about 50°F, in early spring.
Seeds start to germinate typically at an optimal temperature between 55-75°F.
- Sunlight: They need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight a day for proper and healthy root growth.
- Soil: Using well-drained potting-mix along with compost gives the best results. Avoid using garden or landscape soil. Make sure there are no rocks, pebbles or even soil lumps that may come in the way of your carrot. Also, avoid the use of nitrogen-rich soil.
- Containers: Carrots have long tapering roots. Hence make sure you use deep containers for growing them, at least a foot deep. You can also consider using grow bags as an alternative.
- Spacing: Spacing carrots 3-5 inches away from each other allows enough space for proper root development
- Fertilizers: They grow best when using compost or some mild fertilizers. Using nitrogen-based fertilizers will only promote leaf growth.
- Harvesting: They can be harvested within 60-65 days after sowing them. The best way to determine if they are ready to be harvested is by seeing if their tapering roots are visible on the top of the soil and have a peaked color. Carefully loosen the soil around the root before pulling it out to avoid any damage.
Please note that carrots are biennial and will flower and produce seeds if you fail to harvest them in time.
- Water: Water them daily, do not let the soil stay dry for an extended amount of time
- Fertilize: Try a fertilizer with a lower amount of nitrogen to promote root growth
- Thinning: Once they start to grow into seedlings, cut any extra growth with scissors or shears.
- Clean off any dirt under cold running water, cut-off about 1/2 inch of the top and seal them in air-tight containers after drying. Then refrigerate straight away.
- Putting fresh carrots in the refrigerator will cause them to go limp.
- You can also use tubs containing most sand, or dry sawdust in a cool and dry place.
- Carrots were originally grown as a medicine.
- Not all carrots are orange, they can also be white, yellow, red and purple!
- The deeper the color, the more the amount of beta carotene in it.