Do you want to cultivate a fruitful vegetable in your garden? Are you struggling with kids who do not eat nutrient rich vegetables? We have got one solution for both the questions. Grow carrots; it is your cup of tea!
These tiny pockets of Vitamin A can be grown in beds, pots, containers and even on your windowsill, occupying a perfect place in your home, irrespective of any garden size. The taste of home grown carrots is beyond compare with the supermarket stock. Try planting carrots from seed to relish your meals, with home cultivated vegetables.
Some Common Characteristics of Carrots
- Carrots are biennials.
- They gather energy from the sun and store it in their leaves during the first half of the first year.
- They use this energy to build their starchy roots, where energy is stored during the winter.
- This stored energy is used to mature into white flowers during the next spring.
- Under cool conditions, much of the starch is converted to sugar and that is why carrots are sweet!
Know the Varieties of Carrots
Carrots can be classified broadly based on their shape and color. Based on this, you can choose the carrot which you want to grow in your garden.
- Nantes: They are cylindrical, blunt tipped, sweet, crisp and easiest of all carrots to grow in your home.
- Danvers: They are of a deep orange color and grow 6 to 8 inches long. They are broad at the top and tapered at the end.
- Chantenay: These are cone shaped carrots which are short and stout. They have been long serving as home gardeners’ favorites.
- Imperator: They are the long classic carrots with tapered roots. As they grow deeper into the ground, the soil has to be prepared at least a foot deep.
The color of carrots is due to the carotenoid pigment present in it. The differentiation in their color is due to the different pigments present in them.
- Yellow carrot: The golden yellow color of this carrot is due to the presence of Xanthophylls. They are good for eye health and prevent the incidence of lung cancer.
- Red carrot: The dark red color of these carrots is due to Lycopene, the same pigment present in tomatoes. They fight heart diseases and reduce the risk of cancer.
- Purple carrot: Anthocyanins are responsible for delivering the beautiful purple color to the Purple carrots. These carrots are rich in antioxidants.
- White carrot: These carrots lack pigment content in them, but are rich in phytochemicals.
- Orange carrot: These are the most commonly used carrot variety, which is rich in carotenoid.
Where to Grow Carrots?
Planting carrots from seed offer best results when grown in fertile soil under the sun. If the soil is stony, then carrots tend to grow forked or have legs or extra projections. For best results, add a large amount of organic matter to nourish the soil before planting carrot seeds. Prepare the soil with manure, several weeks before planting carrots from seed. Avoid planting them immediately after preparing the soil. As carrots love the cool climate, they do not like growing in the greenhouse.
How to Plant Carrots from Seed?
- Before sowing carrot seeds, check for weeds thoroughly and remove them.
- Till the soil deeply, giving space for the carrots to grow and expand with ease.
- Plant the seeds 3 to 5 weeks before the last frost in spring.
- Drop the seeds 3 to 4 inches apart in rows. Ensure that each row is spaced at a distance of 1 foot.
How to Grow Carrots in Containers?
Carrots grow happily in containers as they do in soil beds. Therefore, people living in multi-storied buildings can no more worry about growing vegetables in their pot. Follow these steps when growing carrots in containers.
- Choose a container which is 8 inches deep, to give space for the roots to expand.
- Choose to plant smaller varieties of carrots such as Chantenay which can adapt easily to the container size.
- Feed your carrots regularly with manure, organic compost, fertilizer and water regularly to ensure good growth.
- It is not recommended to keep the carrot plants indoors, as they prefer a cool climate and natural daylight. Just set them on the balcony where they enjoy the beautiful view of your city as they grow.
Taking Care of Your Carrots
Carrots have to be taken care and regularly fed to obtain good results. After planting carrots from seed, perform the following steps to nourish them.
- Block the sun from directly falling upon the roots, if you are growing carrots in a pot.
- Manure them 5 to 6 weeks after sowing the seeds. After that, regularize the process and ensure that the compost is not dried out.
- Make sure that the soil is well drained and loose, to avoid fork or multi-legged carrots.
- Keep the carrots free from weed to avoid competition in water, sunlight, and nutrients.
Ultimately, you can obtain beautiful carrots if you set up a good home for them.
Pest & Disease Control
Carrot plants are subjected to the following diseases:
- Ashter Yellow Disease: This disease causes discoloration in the leaves and roots of carrot, and destroys them to the extent of making carrots inedible. They are caused by phytoplasma and transmitted from root to root by Ashter
- Carrot Rust: Carrot rust is caused by rust flies which lay eggs on carrot leaves. These eggs hatch into a larva which buries themselves down into the soil and the roots. These larvae proceed to create rust-colored tunnels in the carrot.
- Carrot Weevils: The Weevils are bugs which cause a threat to carrot’s growth in the same way as carrot rust.
- Soft Rot: This problem is caused by soil-borne bacteria which eats chunks of carrot roots and makes it mushy.
- Leaf Blight: This is a fungal disease which causes yellow and brown spots on the leaves, eventually turning the top portion of the carrot brown and burnt.
As prevention is better than cure, it is always best to have a keen eye on the growth rate of your carrots and identifying the diseases at an early stage. The above diseases are a major challenge to organic farming. Fertilizing the plants regularly and keeping weeds apart can prevent the occurrence of such diseases.
Carrots are mature after nine weeks from sowing, at the end of which they are half an inch in diameter. You can harvest them, whenever they attain desired thickness and maturity.
Carrots can be stored for up to 4 months under the moist sand. If the soil is frost free, you can also keep them in the soil for consumption during winter.
If you wish to consume them, pinch off the leaves and clean the roots in running water to free from dust particles. Dry them and put them into air tight sealable bags before putting them into the refrigerator. If you place the carrots directly inside the fridge without any protection, they become limp within hours.
We hope that this guide would have given you a deeper insight on planting carrots from seed, their cultivation, harvest, and usage. No doubts, carrots are a rich source of Vitamin A and have a long list of health benefits. Your children also develop a great interest in eating them when you allow them to pull the carrots out from the soil and wash them thoroughly and offer them to eat it.
As carrots are biennial plants, if you leave them on the ground, they continue producing flowers and seeds during the second year. Carrots are not just a great food for humans, but a great meal to your pets as well. Thereby, go ahead and create a beautiful and healthy kitchen garden for your family and loved ones!