By Josie Borlongan, Garden Guides Contributor
Carrots are biennials grown as annuals. Carrots are usually orange, white or red-white blend in color with a crisp texture when fresh. A carrot is a root vegetable with the taproot as the edible part that may be up to 3 inches (8 cm) in diameter at the neck and up to 12 inches (30 cm) in length.
Carrots are a cool-season crop that can tolerate cool, even temperatures of 61 degrees F (16 degrees C).
Carrots are grown in an open site on light and fertile soil. Ensure the soil used for deep-rooted types are free of stones. Mix soil with organic matter, especially during the fall season before sowing. Soils that are loose and fertile are preferred for established raised beds. Before sowing, rake the soil into fine tilth. Carrots should be rotated with other tuberous crops throughout the years. They need very low nitrogen levels suing fertilizer with 21 percent N content 1/2
oz. per square yard (12g per square meter).
Carrots are normally long and tapered but may be rounded. They have feathery green foliage that can grown up to about 24 inches (60 cm), with a 12 inch (30 cm) spread. There are many types of carrots: the early ones are usually small and slender and used young; the main crop types are larger and are used fresh or stored. Carrots can be eaten either cooked or raw.
Choosing a Variety
The recommended carrot varieties are:
Early; Amsterdam, Earlibird Nantes, Little Finger (baby), Thumbelina, Mokum, Nantes Half Long, Nelson, Parmex, Sweetness, Thumbelina and Touchon.
Maincrop; Boler, Imperator, Danver's half Long, Eagle, Red Cored Chantenay, Royal Chantena and Vita-Treat.
Early types of carrots should be sown in their natural environment in spring as soon as the soil is workable and has warmed up to 45 degrees F (7 degrees C). Early types may also be sown under covers, in frames or under floating row covers that should be removed after a few weeks. A second sowing of early types of carrots may be done during late summer and protected with covers. Main crop types can be sown from late spring to early summer.
Carrot seeds can be sparingly sown about 1/2
to ¾ inch (1 to 2 cm) deep, either broadcast or in row 6 inches (15 cm) apart. Early carrots should be thinned to 3 inches (7cm) apart; main crop carrots should be thinned to 1 1/2
inches (4 cm). Carrots can be transplanted well if sown in cell packs first. Deep-rooted cultivars must be sown singly.
Weeds should be removed regularly once the carrots have germinated. Watering carrots regularly at the rate of 3 to 5 gallons per square yard 916 to 23 liters per square meter) is needed every two to three weeks.
Watch out for pests and diseases. Carrot rust flies can be a serious problem for carrots. Protect against carrot rust fly by surrounding the patch of young carrots with a protective barrier 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 cm) high. Use either fine mesh netting or stiff clear plastic as barriers.
Root and leaf aphids, carrot motley dwarf virus and boron deficiency may also be troublesome.
Harvesting and Storage
Early carrot cultivars can be harvested about seven to nine weeks after sowing and main crop cultivars after ten to eleven weeks by pulling them by hand or by forking them out. Carrots may be left on well-drained soils in areas with light winters. Lift them before heavy frost by cutting or twisting off the foliage, then storing them in boxes by placing the roots on a layer of sand, keeping them in a cool, dry place for several months.
Sweet Red Pepper, Baby Carrots and Baby Zucchini