One of the most popular root vegetables, a carrot is a domestic form of wild carrot. It is native to Persia, where people initially grow carrots to use its seeds and leaves. Now, it is available all over the world and the taproot is its most popular and usable part. The most common color of the taproot is orange, but there are also cultivars that are purple, yellow, red, white, or black, among others. The orange ones are those with a high level of beta carotene, which is also basically the one that is responsible for delivering an abundance of health benefits.
There are different varieties of carrots and not all of them are suitable for indoor planting. Round varieties of carrots are better because of their spherical shape and they do not grow too long. One of the best is Thumbelina, which takes an average of 60 days to grow. Baby carrots will also grow well in containers. You can opt for Short ‘n Sweet and Baby Spike, which both grows at an average length of four inches. When choosing a variety, take note of the maximum length of the taproot, making sure that it will be appropriate for the average depth of a container.
Planting and Growing Conditions
The first step is to choose the variety to grow. Again, you must pick a carrot that is perfect for the size of a container. Purchase seeds from a reputable supplier to have an assurance that it will be disease-free.
Next, choose a container. See to it that it is deep enough so that the taproot will have sufficient room to grow. The depth should be a minimum of one foot. The variety of carrot that you will plant will also dictate the right depth. It can be made from any material, such as plastic or clay. The important thing is to have drainage holes at the bottom so that water will not remain on the surface. It is better to use a new container to be sure that it is free from bacteria. If you are re-using a container, clean it first with soap and warm water.
Now that your container is ready, prepare your soil. A compact and heavy soil is one of the greatest enemies of carrots. The lack of aeration will have a negative effect on their health. Consider using a soilless media, which can include coco peat. If you are using soil, on the other hand, make sure that it is light and well-draining. The addition of compost will also help to enrich the soil.
Fill the container with soil. Do not go above the rim. Now that there is soil, dig holes on the surface using your finger. The depth of the hole should be at least half an inch. For spacing, make them at least three inches apart. Fill each hole with two to three seeds. Cover the holes with more soil, but do it as lightly as possible to avoid the seeds from crushing. Spray water on the top of the soil.
Find the perfect location for the container. Ideally, it should be in a place that receives partial sun and partial shade throughout the day. For better growth, see to it that it will receive at least six hours of sun in a day.
Crunchy and delicious, carrots can offer a wide array of health benefits, including the following:
- Improves Eye Health: This is perhaps the most popular benefit of eating carrots. It is a potent source of beta carotene, which transforms into Vitamin A when it gets into the body. It provides protection against cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Prevents Cancer: If you are afraid that you will have cancer, healthy living is the key, which should also involve eating more carrots. The beta carotene in this vegetable will be instrumental in the prevention of lung cancer.
- Improves Skin: For radiant and youthful skin, even if you are aging, the consumption of carrots will be beneficial. It has Vitamin A and plenty of antioxidants to provide protection from free radicals and the harsh heat of the sun.
- Prevents Cardiovascular Diseases: Carrots will also help to have a healthier heart. Because of the carotenoids in carrots, it will help in lessening the likelihood that you will be suffering from heart diseases.
- Maintains Oral Health: For healthier teeth and gums, carrots will also be good. It can be effective in fighting bacteria that could possibly lead to oral problems. It also helps in the prevention of tooth decay and cavities.
- Prevents Diabetes: In one research from the Stanford University School of Medicine, the conclusion was that the beta carotene in carrots can effectively regulate blood sugar, and hence, make it less likely for you to have diabetes.
Pests and Diseases
One thing that is challenging about growing carrots is that they may not easily show signs and symptoms of the diseases since the taproot is under the soil. Some of the most common diseases include aster yellows, carrot rust, leaf blight, and bacterial soft rot. For pests, on the other hand, the infestation is commonly caused by carrot weevil, parsley worms, and root-knot nematodes.
Care and Maintenance
Here are some of the things that you should do to take care of your carrots:
- To supplement the nutrients that the plant needs, you need to fertilize. You can mix fertilizer in the soil as you plant the seeds. Alternatively, you can also fertilize once the height of the seedling reaches three inches. A full -strength liquid fertilizer is necessary at least once every two weeks.
- If you are looking for a natural way to make it less prone to pests and diseases, you can consider watering it with chamomile tea. This is a potent source of a fungicidal compound, which will make the plant less prone to infestation.
- Keep the soil wet, but do not over-water. Use a spray bottle so that you can have better control on the amount of water that gets into the soil. Increase the frequency of watering during the hot summer months.
- It is also important to pay attention to the pH level of the soil. There are commercially-available kits that will let you test the acidity of the soil. The application of lime is necessary if the pH level goes below 5.8 if you are using mineral soil and 5.4 if you are using organic soil.
Growing carrots at home is possible and can be an easy task, especially if you know how to do it right. Start with picking the right variety, making sure that it fits well in your choice of container. To add, make sure that there is soft, rich, and well-draining soil, which will supplement the nutrients that the taproot needs to grow.