From the Desk of Ed Hume: Carrots, A Wonderful, Easy to Grow Root Crop

May 28, 2012 at 8:16 AM Leave a comment

Carrots are healthy, easy to grow and an ideal year round vegetable root crop.  When you harvest your first carrots, I think you’ll agree there’s no taste comparison to fresh carrots from your own garden.   And if you time your seeding right, you’ll be able to enjoy fresh carrots from your own garden nearly all 12 months of the year.

Carrots are high in fiber, low in saturated fat, and contain no cholesterol.  Plus carrots are high in manganese, niacin, potassium, thiamin, vitamin A, B6, and vitamin C.  Varieties like Ingot are also high in beta carotene, so they not only taste wonderful but are very good for you as well.  Although we love to eat them fresh, recent reports have indicated that they are even healthier after being cooked.

Carrots make beautiful snacks as a garnish, in salads, or in relish trays.  They are also very popular cooked or mixed in a stew.  I like mine fresh or dipped in a little ranch dressing.

Today, carrots come in varieties that are yellow, red, purple, or white in addition to the typical orange ones.  We have a mixed color packet called ‘Rainbow Blend’ which contains most colors.  It’s fun to have people taste the different colors and find out which ones they like the best.

The size of carrots range from little round ones to finger size, half-long, and the typical foot long varieties.  There’s a type and variety to fit just about anyone’s desire.

A few of the favorite varieties are Atomic Red, Chantenay Red Core, Cosmic Purple, Danvers Half Long, Imperator, Ingot, Little Finger, Parisian Market, Scarlet Nantes Coreless, Solar Yellow, and Rainbow Blend.

Here’s my recommendation for an almost continual harvest: Sow the first crop in mid-spring, a second crop in early summer, and the third crop in mid-summer, which may provide you with fresh carrots through the fall and early winter.

I think the biggest problem most home gardeners have with growing carrots is sowing the tiny seeds.  One almost always scatters them too closely, so you end up with the tedious job of thinning them.  If you’ve found this to be a problem, here’s an idea!  My wife Myrna cuts a ½ inch strip of tissue paper as long as our raised vegetable bed.  The tissue paper is the same kind you use for wrapping gifts.  Then in the evening, during the winter when she is watching TV, she dabs a small spot of water-soluble glue on the tissue paper at 2-inch intervals.  Next, she places 1 carrot seed on each spot of glue.  It’s a homemade seed tape.  In the spring all I do is plant the seed tape about 1/8 to ¼ inch deep, and the carrots come up perfectly spaced with absolutely no thinning needed.  It works beautifully for us, so I hope you will try it too!

Carrots can be successfully interplanted with radishes, so you harvest 2 crops in a very limited space.  An additional benefit is that the radishes come-up in about 3 days, so they mark the row and ripen before the carrots are ready to be harvested.

Carrot rust fly can become a pest.  A covering of the plants with Reemay or a frame covered with screen-door cloth (placed over the plants) will do a good job of controlling this pest without using pesticides.

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