by National Gardening Association Editors
Carrots are such cheery vegetables! Kids go for them almost the same way they love orange sherbet and jack-o-lanterns, it must be the bright orange color. Most adults seem to feel the same way, too. Even folks who turn up their noses at other vegetables will often munch happily on carrot sticks.
Besides tasting good, carrots are packed with nutrients. The saying that carrots are good for your eyes isn't just an old wives's tale. Carrots contain a pigment called carotene that converts to vitamin A when you digest it. This vitamin helps us to see in reduced light and at night. Breeders have increased the vitamin A content of many newer varieties.
Types of Carrots
Carrots that are sold in the supermarket can vary from small, yellowish roots to oversized giants that taste awful. There are even new red and purple colored varieties available. With very little effort, you can grow carrots that look and taste much better than those you see on display in the produce aisles.
Carrot varieties range from 3 1/2-inch 'Little Fingers' that mature quickly in any kind of soil to 9-inch-long 'Imperators' that need deep, well-worked soil. Of course, all carrots can be eaten when they're only two or three inches long -- these "fingerlings" are delectable.
Seed companies often have different names for similar varieties, but some characteristics stay the same.
- Amsterdams (65 days). This type grows well in heavy or shallow soil. The 31/2- to 4-inch-long roots mature quickly, providing an early crop of sweet, delicate carrots.
- Chantenays (70 days). Stocky, with broad shoulders and tapered roots 5- to 51/2-inches-long, these carrots are easy to pull and tasty. Chantenays grow well in all soil types and are a good storage type.
- Nantes Half-Longs (70 days). These carrots produce 6- to 7-inch-long roots with nearly perfect cylindrical shapes. They're practically coreless and are best eaten fresh.
- Danvers Half-Longs (75 days). These bright orange, 7- to 71/2-inch-long roots taper to a blunt end. They have a rich flavor and good texture.
- Round Carrots (50 days). Just 1 to 2 inches in diameter, these carrots mature early and grow easily in hard-packed soil.
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