Carrots, scientifically known as Daucus carota, is a biennial root vegetable once used as medicine in Asia over 3,000 years ago. The original carrots used medicinally in Asia were slightly different from the ones we consume today; they were purple and yellow. You can still find purple and yellow cultivators of carrots today. Growing carrots for food became a practice in 900 B.C., and the practice continues to evolve.
In this article, we will discuss how to grow carrots, their origin, and other valuable facts.
Like most produce we consume today, modern carrots are a cultivator of a wild-growing vegetable. Wild carrots originate from Persia, and by 900 B.C., Afghanistan cultivated the root vegetable as a food source . That was the beginning of their cultivation which farmers and botanists continued to do for centuries, making many consider carrots a man-made invention.
The orange carrot has potential political roots; some say its creation was to honor William of Orange in Holland. Although, its favor is most likely because it carried a less bitter taste than its predecessors.
Carrot Plant Care
Growing carrots is easy. Despite their easy-growing nature, it is still critical to know proper plant care if you want a bountiful harvest.
Below you will find information about how to care for the root vegetable plant, including its soil, water, temperature, lighting needs, and more.
Free-draining loose soils with high organic matter content are optimal for growing carrots. If you have denser or heavier soil, you may want to grow short cone-shaped varieties like Danvers.
For a bountiful harvest, ensure that your carrot plants receive one inch of water once a week. You can water carrots through rainfall or irrigation systems.
Carrots thrive when they receive six to ten hours of direct sun exposure.
Humidity & Temperature
When planting carrot seeds, the soil temperature should be 40°F or 4.4°C. They flourish when the ambient temperature does not reach over 75°F or 23.89°C.
NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) is fundamental for proper carrot growth. A slow-release 5-15-15 NPK fertilizer applied five to six weeks after sowing can work wonders for carrots plants. Although, beware of any fertilizer high in nitrogen and test your soil before applying. High amounts of nitrogen can inhibit root growth.
Diseases & Pests
Carrot root flies are one the most prevalent pest problems for the root vegetable. You can take measures to prevent the pest from invading your plants by harvesting them as soon as they are ready. Never use insecticides when treating the edible portions of the plant.
Aster Yellow disease can also become a problem for the root vegetable plant. Look out for the warning signs and symptoms, which include yellow or purple tops and hairy roots. Aster leafhoppers spread the infection – a pest that can jump from plant to plant.
Days to maturity
How many days it takes for your carrots plants to mature and be ready for harvest will depend on the variety. On average, you can expect your carrots to reach maturity from 55 to 80 days after sowing.
Many gardeners new to growing carrots ask, “when is carrots ready to harvest?” You can harvest carrots at any point once they become of functional size. However, it is best to pull up the root vegetable once the roots reach 3/4″ around on the upper portion.
When, Where & How to Plant Carrots
If you are thinking about growing carrots, you will need to know the basics of when, where, and how to plant them. Thankfully, we have you covered with all of the information you need below!
- When to Plant
You should sow carrot seeds once the soil reaches 40°F or 4.4°C. That can occur a few weeks before the last spring frost or mid to late summer, ten weeks before your area’s initial fall frost. A quick Google search will inform you of the frost dates in your area.
- Where to Plant
Choose a location where the soil is loose and the plants can receive direct sun exposure for six to ten hours.
- How to Plant
To properly plant carrots from seed, space them 1″ inch apart and 1/4″ to 1/2″ into the soil in rows at least 12″ to 16″ apart. Once your seeds have begun sprouting leaves, it is best to thin them so there is at least 2″ of space between them. Starting carrots indoors is not recommended as they do not transplant well.
If you are looking for how to plant carrot tops for their dainty white flowers – look no further. Start by placing your cut carrot top in a potting soil mixture with a bit of the orange part peeking through the soil. Ensure to keep the plant near a sunny window and keep the soil moist but not drenched.
Growing Carrots in Containers
If you have limited room to grow produce, the good news is that growing carrots in a container is simple. All it takes is ensuring you choose a container with enough depth – at least 12″ to 14″ deep. A loose and well-draining soil is best for the task, and the seeds should be spaced 1″ apart. Also, ensure that you moisten the soil before covering the pot with plastic. You can remove the plastic covering once the seeds have sprouted. Follow that with general care, such as sunlight, watering, and fertilizer requirements.
We may commonly know carrots as the long orange roots or bite-sized versions you can buy in a bag at the supermarket, but did you know there are other varieties and colors still available today? Carrots typically fall into either hybrid or heirloom categories, but there are four official classifications, including Imperators, Danvers, Chantenay, and Nantes. Many of those we discuss below are either classified as hybrid or heirloom.
- White Carrots
Lunar White: An heirloom variety that can grow 8″ long roots and has a classic carrot taste.
White Satin: A hybrid white variety that can grow up to 9″ long at the roots and has a slightly sweet flavor.
- Purple Carrots
Deep Purple: The deep purple carrots have deep purple colored roots that almost appear black and can grow roots up to 8″ long. They are a hybrid type.
Purple Haze: An extremely sweet hybrid variety that can reach 10″ long. When sliced, the carrot is dual-colored with a purple outer edge and an orange core.
Dragon: The heirloom dragon carrot has 5″ to 7″ long roots with a bright purple outer skin and an orange center. This variety falls right into the Chantenay type.
- Yellow Carrots
Yellowbunch: The yellowbunch carrot is an Imperator that reaches 9″ long and has bright sunny yellow coloring.
Golden Nugget: A Nantes carrot with 5″ to 6″ long yellow roots that have a slightly sweet taste.
- Red Carrots
Red Samurai: A crisp 11″ Japanese hybrid with red coloring and a slightly sweet flavor.
Atomic Red: An heirloom carrot with up to 9″ long roots and stunning red coloring.
- Orange Carrots
Musico: A Nantes type with 7″ to 8″ roots that are the classic orange carrot color.
Imperator 58: An Imperator type you commonly find at that grocery store. Its roots are orange and reach up to 9″ long.
What are the benefits of carrots?
Carrots are a root vegetable that packs a healthy punch. The root veggie has numerous benefits when consumed because they have many healthy compounds. One of those many healthy compounds includes carotenoids, which one research review shows it has the power to protect from UVB radiation and UVA-induced pigmentation. 
Another benefit of carrots is their ability to reduce cancer risk, including Colorectal Cancer. 
Carrot consumption is also linked to a decrease in cholesterol. 
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