Photo by: nerdcoregirl
How To Grow The Best Carrots
Carrots. Rabbits love them. People love them. Even snowmen need them for their colorful noses. Carrots are a healthy, sweet and crunchy vegetable used for snacking, in salads, or other recipes. Their nutritional properties help maintain and improve eyesight. Carrots also helps prevent and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, too. What makes this vegetable so nutritious? It is loaded with Vitamin A, carotenes, anti-oxidants, poly-acetylene antioxidant falcarinol, vitamin C, and B complex and minerals. Just ½ cup sliced carrots provide you with a 205 to 256% RDA.
When you go to buy a package of carrots, you will find many choices and colors. Yes, not all carrots are orange. Some are Purple, white, pale yellow, red, or black. Here are some popular carrot varieties that will grow well in almost any garden.
Danvers carrot grows about 7 inches long. If you want to extend the season on this variety, plant them every 2 weeks. This carrot yields a long, thin root. It is firm, crisp, and sweet tasting. The maturity date is 77 days after seeds germinate. This carrot needs loose soil so it will grow straight.
Red Core Chantenay takes 8 to 12 days for the seeds to germinate, and 70 days before you can harvest. This carrot is one of the better tasting vegetables, because it is sweet, crisp, and free of fiber. The orange-red roots grow 5 to 6 inches long, with blunt ends and narrow shoulders. This variety grows best in loose soil that is rich in organic matter.
Scarlet Nantes is a certified organic heirloom seed passed down through the generations of gardeners. The roots grow 6 to 8 inches in length, but if you want a sweeter tasting carrot, pull them when they are smaller. The maturity date is 60 days after the seeds germinate. This variety will grow well in almost any soil.
Most carrots need a light sandy soil that is loose to grow . The pH level of the soil should be 6.5 to 7.5. Til the soil to a depth of 12 inches. Remove any rocks, sticks, or hard dirt clods, so the carrot root can grow straight into the soil. Amend the soil with organic compost. Provide some potassium rich fertilizer to the soil to grow a sweeter tasting carrot. Allow the soil to settle for seven days so the seed doesn’t fall too deep.
Sowing the Seeds
Lay a board over the soil where you are going to plant the seeds and then walk across it. This will compact the ground just enough to keep the seeds from being too deep.
Thinly scatter the carrot seeds over the soil. In order to get the seeds from clumping together I mix the seeds with about 2 to 4 cups of sand. Also, because carrot seeds are slow to germinate, I will mix in a package of radish seeds. My family loves radishes, and this utilizes the extra space in the garden. The radish seeds will be harvested long before the carrots are fully developed. Cover the seeds to a depth of 1.4 inch. Press your hands over the soil to ensure that the seed coat is in contact with the soil.
Gently water the soil. It is important to keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. It can take 10 to 20 days for the seeds to sprout.
Thin the carrot plants when they are 2 inches tall. The back of the seed packet should give you the recommended distance for the plants. If not, they usually need 2 to 3 inches of space between each plant. Continue to keep the soil evenly moist through the growing season. Carrots that are hard or bitter is usually caused from the lack of water.
Inspect your plants for carrot rust fly and/or carrot weevil. These are tiny black flies about 1/5 inches long. They have yellow on their head and legs. Yellow-orange color attracts these flies. Buy some yellow sticky traps to control this pest or you can make your own at a fraction of the cost. Glue some yellow paper onto a piece of cardboard, or paint it yellow. Punch a hole at the top of the cardboard and tie a piece of string there to make a loop. Spread a layer of petroleum jelly over the surface of the cardboard. Hang it on a stake in your carrot bed.
The carrot weevil will eat everything except for the stems and the ribs of the carrot leaves. Spray the area with Peppermint Soap Spray that you make at home. In a sprayer, combine 2 tablespoons liquid dish soap, 1 gallon water together and 2 teaspoons peppermint oil. Spray the carrot plants. This mixture works against most hard-bodied insects.