The World of Carrots
By: Charlie Nardozzi
Spring is the time for planting seeds, and carrots should be high on your list. Carrots are a versatile crop. They can be eaten raw right out of the garden, shredded into salads, sauteed in stir fries, chopped into casseroles and soups, or juiced for a quick vitamin boost.
In a small bed you can raise a whole bushel of carrots that can be stored into the winter. Although carrot seeds are very tiny and take awhile to germinate, once they are up and growing, they are fairly carefree. Unless a mouse or Bugs Bunny gets into your patch, they're relatively pest-free as well.
Here are some of the best carrot varieties, and tips for a plentiful harvest.
Carrots are often grouped by shape. Chantenays, such as 'Chantenay Red-Core', are stocky, with broad shoulders and tapered roots. The bountiful tops make these carrots easy to pull.
Imperator carrots, such as 'Imperator 58', are known for their long, thin roots, deep orange color, and long storage life.
Nantes types, such as 'Scarlet Nantes', have a nearly perfect cylindrical shape and a sweet taste that makes them great for juicing.
Danvers carrots, such as 'Danvers 126', are bright orange, with roots tapered to a point. They have a rich flavor, good texture, and store well.
Baby carrots are either long and thin, such as 'Little Finger', or short and round, such as 'Thumbelina'. These small roots mature quickly and grow well in hard-packed soils or containers.
For more on carrot varieties, go to: http://willhiteseed.com/products.php?cat=25
Not all carrots are orange. Carrots originated in South Asia, and these ancestors are red, purple, white, and yellow. With the interest in heirloom vegetables, many new colorful varieties are being bred using these original varieties. Some new, colorful carrots include 'Nutri-Red', 'Purple Dragon', and 'Yellowstone'.
Seeding & Thinning
The toughest part of growing carrots is getting started. To prepare a spot for carrots, make a raised bed and remove any large sticks, stones, and clods of soil. Obstructions in the soil can cause carrot roots to be stunted. Rake the top of the bed smooth and lightly broadcast carrot seed on the soil surface so there are approximately 3 to 4 seeds per square inch of bed. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting soil or sand, and moisten the bed. In sunny, hot areas, you may want to put a shade cloth over the bed to prevent it from drying out. Keep moist and within two weeks the seedlings should emerge.
Two weeks after germination, thin the carrots to 2 inches apart. Thin a second time four weeks after germination to 4 inches apart. This will give the carrot roots enough room to spread out and size up. Don't try to transplant the carrot thinnings; they won't make it.