Today another of our articles on organic vegetable cultivation. How to grow carrots? Today in organicgardening-101 we dedicate this article to explain it.
Carrots are a root vegetable with a distinctive, single large taproot. They are known for their crisp, sweet and earthy flavor. Although most carrots are orange in color, some varieties may be red, purple, yellow or white. The large central root is the edible part of the plant and carrot greens are generally not considered to be edible because they are mildly toxic to humans.
Carrots are rich in dietary fiber and in lycopene and beta-carotene, which is metabolized into Vitamin A by the human digestive system. According to the US Department of Agriculture, carrots provide 30 percent of the vitamin A in the US diet.
They are also high in mineral content and antioxidants. Because vitamin A deficiencies can harm eyesight, historical lore tells us to “eat your carrots, they are make your vision better!”
Usually grown as annuals and harvested in the first year for food, carrots are biennials requiring two years to form flowers. Part of the reason why carrots are sweet is because they store sugars in their taproot to prepare for flowering in the second year.
Originally grown for their aromatic leaves and seeds, carrots are much like their related vegetables and herbs: Fennel, Celery, Dill, Chervil, Angelica, Anise and Parsley. All are biennial plants and each is grown for their particular aromatic and flavor qualities.
The word, carrot, has its origins in Indo-European languages. It is from the word part, Ker, meaning horn-shaped in reference to Carrots distinctive shape.
Types of carrots
There are two main divisions of this vegetable: Western Carrots and Eastern Carrots. Eastern Carrots are not common in the US. Usually red or purple in color, they are more closely related to their wild counterparts originally found in Afghanistan and Central Asia. Since virtually all of the carrots grown in US gardens are Western Carrots we will focus our discussion solely on Western Carrots. These are the familiar orange variety seen in supermarkets.
In general, carrots are classified by the distinct shape of their roots. The five most common types are:
These are the carrots most commonly sold as fresh carrots in US grocery stores, and are the most commonly grown in family gardens and for commercial production. These are 9-11 inches long and conical shaped with a pointy end.
They tend to be long and slender with broad shoulders, up to 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Imperators are notable for their consistency, usually being large sweet and flavorful.
In the home garden it is best to harvest them before they reach full size. Some varieties will develop a dry woody core when they are larger than 8 inches long. Imperator tends to crack with too much watering or over-abundant rain.
Danvers is an heirloom variety developed in 1871 in Danvers, Massachusetts. Bred for cold, heavy soils, this variety is stout and broad-shouldered with an abundance of fiber.
Resistant to forking, these are conical like the Imperator, only shorter, being about 7 inches in length. The tops are large and strong to aid in pulling them from thick clay soil. They often take longer to produce mature carrot than other types.
Danvers is commercially important as the preferred carrots for puree and baby foods. While still flavorful in the home garden, their fresh eating qualities have been eclipsed by newer hybrids of the more popular Nantes and Imperator types.
Nantes carrots take their name from the French city by the same name and where they were introduced in 1885. This variety is uniformly cylindrical in shape and rounded at both ends.
They are known for having a sweet flavor, consistency, and smooth skins. Heirloom French Nantes varieties like Carrot Touchon are renowned for their tasty flavor and for being good in raw dishes and salads.
Today Nantes has come to embody a class of more than 40 varieties of medium-sized, cylindrical carrots. This is a choice, and very popular, variety for the home garden.
Another heirloom, these are about 4 to 6 inches long and are stubby looking with a broad, often purplish, shoulder and a blunt tip.
They can be gnarled and knobby, but usually grow with a smooth,tapered triangle-shaped root. Chantenay are one of the most tender varieties of carrots and are praised for their “old-fashioned” carroty flavor.
Their small size makes them perfect for fresh, raw eating. They are considered the “gourmet” carrot in French cooking. Chantenay carrots are grown commercially in America for diced canned carrots.
Once considered as “novelty” carrots, Planet types are bred to produce short or round roots. In response to the need for carrots that will grow in very heavy clay soils, in the cool soil above permafrost, and for containers, several varieties of Planet carrots were created.
They have the advantage of being small, so are often raised as a “lunchbox” carrot. If you have very difficult growing conditions in your garden, you might consider a Planet variety.
Unique traits of carrots
Sensitivity to Soil Debris:
Carrots are very sensitive to debris in their soil. Carrots need loose, non-compacted soil that is free of rocks and sticks to grow straight and true.
They need debris-free soil that is at least as deep as they are expected to grow. A single small stone located directly under a young carrot can cause the taproot to split and fork.
Root Sensitivity to Sunlight:
Carrots are also susceptible to sunburn. It is important for carrots to develop bushy healthy top greens in order to shade their shoulders from direct sunlight.
Too much direct sun on the base of the plant will cause “green shoulders” which adversely affects the quality of the harvested carrot and introduce toxins into the top of the root.
Don’t eat this part of a carrot so affected. Cut off the root about 1/2 inch below the green shoulder.
Carrots Popular varieties
There are many popular varieties within the five main carrot types, but often carrot seeds will just be listed as Imperator, Nantes, Danvers or Chantenay. Each type has seeds available in heirloom or in hybrid varieties.
Heirloom carrots are carrot cultivars that have not been changed by contemporary agricultural techniques to hybridize carrots for disease resistance, performance, or appearance.
The seeds have remained unchanged for the last hundred years or more. Heirloom vegetables are considered by some to taste better and they have a definite cachet associated with them, being served at premium restaurants.
Modern hybrids tend to perform uniformly in the home garden, mature consistently, and are genrally sweeter and milder in taste, but often lack the “old-fashioned” carrot taste so desired in heirloom varieties.
|Name||Maturity (days)||Length (in.)||Width (in.)||Cultivar||Type||Season||Notes|
|76||7-8||1-1/2″||Heirloom||Imperator||Sp Su||Pink rough roots turn blood red when cooked; high in lycopene; best cooked.|
|Baltimore||75||6||1||Hybrid||Nantes||Sp Su Au||Clean, carroty sweetness with crisp texture; good for fresh eating, juicing, cooking; high yields|
|Bolero||75||6-7||1-1/2||Hybrid||Nantes||Sp Su Au||Holds well in the field; keeps sweet flavor in storage; good fresh|
|Carrot Touchon||65||6||1||Heirloom||Nantes||Sp Su Au||Old French variety; quick-maturing; best for eating out of hand; sweet tender and free from hard fiber.|
|Danvers Half-Long||75||4-5||1-1/2||Heirloom||Danvers||All||Bred for shallow soils; good for fresh eating; ideal cooked in soups & stews; good to overwinter.|
|Imperator 58||75||8-10||1-1/2||Heirloom||Imperator||Sp Su||The standard for all carrots; most common variety in grocery stores; best in cooking.|
|Ingot||70||6-7||1||Hybrid||Nantes||SP Su Au||Extremely sweet; smooth roots; high in beta-carotene & Vitamin A; excellent for juice, cooking & fresh eating.|
|Kuroda||90||5||2-3||Hybrid||Chantenay||Sp Su Au||Unsurpassed color and flavor; cylindrical with a smooth surface, fine texture and high moisture content; tolerant to Alternaria Leaf Blight.|
|Laguna||100||7-8||1-1/2||Hybrid||Nantes||Sp Au||Uniform, smooth, tapering roots; strong tops; good choice for marketing.|
|Little Finger||65||4-5||3/4||Hybrid||Nantes||Sp Su||Mini-nantes variety; most popular “baby” carrot; good for snacking, canning & pickling.|
|Merida||240||7-8||1-1/2||Hybrid||Nantes||All||Slow growing; bred to overwinter; holds sweet flavor in the field; very slow to bolt.|
|Mokum||56||6-8||1||Hybrid||Chantenay||Sp Au||Crisp tender and very sweet; brittle and delicate; high in Vitamin A; fine fresh eating carrot.|
|Napa||63||6-7||1-1/2||Hybrid||Nantes||Sp Au||Very uniform; high yields; sweet flavor; strong tops; good for heavy soil|
|Napoli||58||7||1||Hybrid||Nantes||Au Wi||A specialized variety to be when sown in fall for winter harvest; sweet taste; strong tops.|
|Nelson||58||6-7||3/4-1||Hybrid||Nantes||Sp Su||High quality; high yields; good for heavy soil; early and consistent; best choice for marketing.|
|Parano||65||6-7||1||Hybrid||Nantes||Sp Su Au||Sweet and crunchy, uniform tapered cylinder; excellent all-purpose carrot; for juice, cooking and fresh eating.|
|Parisienne||58-60||1-2||1-2||Hybrid||Planet||Sp Su||Small round sweet carrot globes popular in France; bred for heavy soils and for container growing; excellent flavor in soups & stews.|
|Purple Haze||70||10-12||1-1/2||Hybrid||Imperator||Sp Au||Purple with orange center; sweet and crisp; 2006 AAS winner.|
|Red Cored Chantenay||70||5-7||1-2||Hybrid||Chantenay||Sp Su||High yields; ideal for dicing, canning, and freezing.|
|Red Samurai||75||11||1||Heirloom||Imperator||Sp Su||Slim roots; bold, sweet flavor; crisp reddish flesh; excellent in cooking.|
|Rocket||70||8||1-2||Hybrid||Nantes||Sp Su Au||Remarkably sweet with exceptionally smooth, vivid orange flesh; jumbo size distinguishes these cylindrical carrots|
|Scarlet Nantes||65||6-7||1||Heirloom||Nantes||Sp Su||The non-hybrid standard for taste; uniform, cylindrical to slightly tapered roots; sweet, crisp flavor; medium tops.|
|Short and Sweet||68||4||1||Hybrid||Chantenay||Sp Su||Bred especially for heavy or poor soil; rich, sweet flavor; can also be grown in containers.|
|Sugersnax 54||68||9||1||Hybrid||Imperator||Sp Su Au||Sweet and tender; high in beta-carotene; superior eating; strong tops; excellent disease resistance.|
|Sweet Salad||80||10||1-1/2||Hybrid||Imperator||Sp Su Au||Smooth, sweet roots are crispy and tasty; strong tops for easy harvest; ideal for salads or snacks.|
|Sweetness||66||6-8||1||hybrid||Nantes||Sp Su Au||Uniform, cylindrical strong roots; sweet flavor; very high yields in sandy or loamy soils; high in vitamins A and B; rich in calcium and phosphorus.|
|Super Root||65||8-12||2||Hybrid||Nantes||Sp Su Au||Giant carrot keeps crisp, crunchy and sweet, even when it grows large; perfectly sized for juicing.|
|Tendersnax||65||8||1||Hybrid||Nantes||Sp Su Au||Extra-sweet, extra-juicy, extra-tender; exceptionally disease-resistant; ideal for heavy or clay soils.|
|Thumbelina||60-70||2||2||Hybrid||Planet||Sp Su||Round gourmet carrots are best harvested at golfball size; ideal for containers or small gardens with poor soils; sweet taste; good for salads, stews, snacks or hors d’oeuvres.|
|White Satin||70||8||1||Hybrid||Nantes||Sp Su||Lustrous, clean white roots; delicate, sweet, mild flavor; uniform smooth skins.|
|Yaya||60||6||3/4-1||Hybrid||Nantes||Sp Su||Extra sweet, uniform quality, holds well in the field, strong tops.|
|Yellowstone||70||9||1-2||Hybrid||Imperator||All||PYellow to the core; classic carrot flavor cooked or raw; stores well in the ground; overwinters.|
How to grow carrots? Step by step
Preparing the best soil for carrots
The key to successfully growing carrots is healthy, loose soil that is free of rocks and debris. Carrots roots struggle to grow in compacted or heavy soils.
Rocks, sticks, and dirt clods can interfere with tap root growth and cause carrots to gnarl and develop forked roots, or be shorter than desired. Even clumps of fertilizers that have been poorly incorporated into the garden bed can cause root deformity. For these reasons, your carrots will have their best results if you take the time to thoroughly prepare the soil.
Carrots prefer light, stone free, well-drained, fertile soils with plenty of well-rotted organic matter. Rich sandy peaty soils are perfect in providing the best conditions for the carrot roots to penetrate deeply and to swell. Ideally you will want to recreate as near to this condition in your carrot beds.
Loosen the Soil:
Dig and loosen the soil to a depth of 12 inches (15 inches, if you plan to grow Imperator varieties). Your aim is to break up any clods, identify what kinds of amendments you will need to add, and remove any obstacles to growing straight roots. Lay out the soil onto a tarp and break any clumps down with a garden rake. This is much easier with moist to dry soil. If your soil is wet, saturated with water, or sticky, wait until conditions are better before you prepare the soil.
Add Soil Amendments:
If you have tested your soil, your test report should recommend which soil amendments are needed for general fertility. Add these in dry form (ideally with a loose sandy or granular texture) to your tarp of soil.
Potassium promotes solid, sweet carrots. Potassium rich organic amendments, such as wood ashes, contain soluble potassium which reaches the plant quickly and promotes strong root development.
Excess Nitrogen causes branching and hairy, fibrous roots, so high nitrogen fertilizers should be avoided. Manure may be added prior to planting, but only if it is well composted and if it is used very sparingly. Fresh manure is too high in nitrogen. Steer and horse manure is preferable to poultry manure in this regard.
The best pH value for carrots should be in the range of 6.5 to 7.5. Add lime, ground limestone or dolomite to raise the soil pH in acid soil. Add pulverized sulfur rock to alkaline soils to lower pH. If your soil is excessively acidic or alkaline, you may not be able to make the soil within the preferred pH range in a single season. If you can move your pH by 1 point, that should be sufficient for the year.
Abundant organic matter also helps to modify the effects of soil pH. Add a judicious amount of well-rotted compost to the soil in your tarp.
Improving Soil Texture:
You are now ready to return the soil to the bed, and in the process improve its texture. You’ll need a few soil sifters made from hardware cloth or mesh screen. One should have 1/2″ openings and the other should have 1/4″ openings. These are easy to build out of a section of mesh and a frame of wood. Sift a few shovelfuls of through the 1/2″ mesh onto the 1/4″ mesh and sift them through the smaller mesh.
The Squeeze Test: Take a handful of the resulting soil and squeeze it within your fist. [Note: the soil should be moist (not wet or dry). If it is too dry, moisten it with a little water.] The ideal soil should hold together for a split second and then fall apart under its own weight. If it does, your soil texture is perfect. However, if it sticks together, your soil is still too clayey and will need to be amended with sand.
Continue to sift all the soil back into your bed, taking care not to compact the floor of the garden bed in the process. If your soil is sticky clay, add a few bags of construction grade or playground grade sand into the amended soil, until the texture is perfect when you perform the squeeze test.
Carrots are grow as cool-season crops in the South and are best sown in the spring and autumn. They can be grown throughout the winter in some “warm” winter areas. In Northern climates, carrots can be enjoyed as a spring, summer, and autumn crop. Some varieties are bred to overwinter in areas with reliably frozen winter soil, usually protected with a blanket of snow.
Carrots are relatively easy to grow provided that you have prepared the soil, place them where they will receive plenty of sun, and you water them adequately. They are best planted from seed sown directly in the garden. They do not lend themselves to being moved once they have been planted and are more susceptible to forking if transplanted.
Plant spring crops as early as possible, but after the last frost and when the soil has warmed to at least 60°F. If you are planting in the fall, work backwards from the first expected frost in your area. Go back at least as many days as the expected days to maturity for the variety you are growing (check the chart above or the seed packet).
Carrot seeds are tiny and light, about 6000 to 9000 per ounce. They will easily blow away in the wind, so pick a still day to plant them. They are easier to handle and lay out in the proper spacing if you mix them with an equal quantity of sand.
Rake out the bed as level as possible and very gently pat the surface smooth with a flat block of wood. Reserve enough of the prepared soil to cover the seeds to a depth of 1/4″. If you are planting in rows, drag a pencil or twig across the soil surface to create a very shallow depression. Place the seeds or seed/sand mixture in a line along the depression.
If your are planting a wide row, or intensively, broadcast the seeds or seed/sand mixture across the prepared surface of the bed. Sift the reserved soil over the seeds until they are adequately covered. Very lightly tamp down the sifted soil with a flat wooden block. Water thoroughly with a misting nozzle on your hose.
Thin carrots to 3 inches apart in all directions oncethe tops have reached a height of six inches. Further thinning may be required as they grow larger, but at this point, the carrots may be big enough to eat as you thin.
You may apply a thin light layer of organic mulch, such as straw or grass clippings after thinning to help the soil retain moisture. You can add more mulch as the plant develops. This retains moisture and helps prevent green shoulders by protecting the tops of the roots from sunlight.
|Seed Spacing||Row Spacing||Plant Spacing*||Planting Depth||Soil Temperature||Sprout Time||Light Needs||Days to Harvest**|
|1/2 in.||12-18 in.||3 in.||1/4 in.||60°-65° F||12 Days||Full-sun||Varies|
*Plant Spacing: Spacing after Thinning OR Distance between plants (Intensive Planting)
**Days to Harvest will vary with your Climate (longer in cool climates or cool summers)
Fertilizers are best applied to carrots during the preparation. Properly prepared beds will generally not require additional amendments during the growing season. Additional fertilizers should be complete organic fertilizers with an proportional analysis of 1-2-2. The most effective times to apply fertilizers is when the tops are 3-4 inches tall and again when they are 6-8 inches tall. Avoid adding any fertilizers as carrots approach maturity, since these encourage forking and cracking of the roots.
Carrots need regular water to keep the top greens healthy and it improves the quality of the harvested carrot. At a minimum they need 3/4″ of water or rain per week. Plan on giving them an inch of water per week. Avoid letting them get overly dry or overly wet as some carrots are susceptible to powdery mildew and root fungus. Loose well drained soil that is kept slightly moist is best.
Regular and adequate water as it is important for them to develop bushy healthy top greens that shade their shoulders from direct sunlight. Too much direct sun on the base of the plant will cause “green shoulders” which compromises the quality of the harvested carrot.
Another important way to assure tasty, well formed carrots is to remove competing plants within the carrot bed. Carrots, especially young carrots, do not compete well with weeds so keep your carrot bed free of weeds by regularmaintenance. Snipping the weeds off at ground level is preferable to pulling the weeds since this disrupts the soil and could damage your carrot’s developing root system.
As with all root crops in the home garden, pest predation appears in the same frustrating pattern. You pull up your carrots with the hopes of a great crop, only to find them riddled with holes and scars from wireworms, grubs, or maggots. Worse yet, you might find the roots are gnarled, forked, or stubbed by unknown causes. Your carrot are victims of the most common carrot pests.
Foretunately, since the worst pests attack in the same manner the a single cure works for all of them. The key lies entirely in prevention. Once you discover predation on your carrots, it’s too late. Your crop is lost. Your aim is to learn from it and never let it happen again.
All of the major carrot root pests are soil-dwelling vermin, each with different but similar life-cycles. Disrupt the life-cycle and you can eliminate the pest. Since each of these pests spend the late fall, winter, and early spring in the soil, either hibernating or pupating, that is the time to eradicate them.
First, begin by completely removing all your carrots from the garden in the late fall. Every bit of root and top needs to be taken out of the soil. Any carrot debris left behind will only provide food to sustain carrot pest through the off-season. Do NOT attempt to overwinter carrots if they have shown any signs of disease, or if they are not a variety specifically bred to overwinter. Most modern varieties are too tender to withstand the weathering they will recieve in the open field.
Second, in late winter or early spring, as soon as you can work the soil but before the last frost date, turn over the soil to expose any hibernating larvae or pupae to frost, rain, and snow. Pick out any obvious vermin and destroy them. Adverse weather shold kill the remainder.
Third, thoroughly prepare the seedbed as described above. By eliminating pests in the soil and by providing a healthy environment for growing, your carrots will be strong and vigorous and less suseptible to predation in the future.
Fourth, rotate your crops on a regular and rigorous basis. Do not replant carrots in the same piece of ground for at least three years. A suggested crop rotation is described below.
Finally, if you have had wireworm or maggot problems in the past, use a floating row cover over your carrots during the growing season to prevent moths and flies from lay eggs among your crop.
TIP: Plant a trap crop of overwintering parsley. In the fall, in a bed where carrot pests have been present, after removing all infested carrots from the bed transplant a parsley plant and allow it to overwinter in the bed. The parsley plant will be weakened by the weather and by transplanting. It will attract carrot pests looking for a vulnerable plant to infest. In early spring, remove the whole plant, roots and all, and get rid of it, along with all the pests clinging to it.
|Flea Beetles||Leaves||Virus Carrier|
|Spider Mites||Leaves||Only occurs in very dry weather|
|Tarnished Plant Bug||Leaves|
|Thrips||Leaves||Via infested onion plants|
|Caterpillars and Larvae||Roots||Disrupt Life-Cycle|
|Carrot Weevils||Roots||Disrupt Life-Cycle|
|Carrot Wireworms||Roots||Disrupt Life-Cycle|
|Southern Potato Wireworms||Roots||Disrupt Life-Cycle|
|Vegetable Weevils||Roots||Disrupt Life-Cycle|
|Yellow Woolybear||Roots||Disrupt Life-Cycle|
|Flies and Maggots||Roots||Disrupt Life-Cycle|
|Carrot Root Flies||Roots||Disrupt Life-Cycle|
|Cabbage Moths||Roots||Disrupt Life-Cycle|
|Root Knot Nematodes||Roots||Use Predatory Nematodes|
|Stub Root Nematodes||Roots||Use Predatory Nematodes|
Not surprisingly, carrot diseases are easily divided into two categories: those which attack carrot tops, and those which attack the roots. Only one disease, Black Rot (aka: Black Crown) effects both part by rotting away the crown of the carrot, where the leaves meet the root.
Unforetunately, carrot diseases in the home garden are easy to overlook and difficult to discover, especially root diseases. Have you ever pulled up a seemingly healthy carrot, judging by the tops, only to discover badly infected roots? The bad news: once your carrots are diseased it’s usually too late to do anything about it. At that point, it’s best to pull out the infected plants, and work to prevent the disease from spreading or reoccurring.
The good news: nearly all carrot diseases are spread by the same conditions and are therefore prevented by applying the same methods of prevention.
Because carrots reside in the soil, it naturally follows that all carrot root diseases are soil-borne,the most common culprit being fungus. Common fungal diseases include: Cavity Spot, Cottony Soft Rot, Root Dieback, and Southern Blight. Virtually all of these are soil-dwelling, and do their damage in saturated or cold and wet soil. They generally can’t sustain themselves in the absence of a carrot crop unless they are able to feed off of the debris left in the ground from a former carrot crop.
This also true for the less common bacterial diseases, like Bacterial Soft Rot. But most bacterial rots require a break or tear in the skin of the carrot, usually brought about by careless weeding.
Carrot root diseases are relatively easy to prevent with basic cultural practices. First, employ a crop rotation scheme. Do not grow carrots in the same spot as a previously diseased crop for at least three years.
Second, it is essential that you prepare the soil ahead of time. You’ll be creating a soil that makes it easy for carrots to grow. And at the same time, you’ll be eliminating any grubs, maggots, or pupae living in the soil. Reducing plant stress will increase the chance of your carrots resisting any residual diseases.
Third, remove all debris from the ground at the end of the season after you harvest. While it may tempting to let your unharvest carrots “compost” in the garden, you are actually setting up the conditions which will perpetuate soil-dwelling fungal and bacterial diseases. Eliminate its food source and you can eliminate the disease.
Finally, plan to plant your carrots when there is less likelihood for the soil to remain in cold and wet or saturated soils. If you have cool wet springs, delay planting until the soil warms and dries out. If your summers are rainy, plan for spring and fall sowings instead.
Carrot leaf diseases fall into two broad categories: viral diseases and bacterial and fungal diseases. Viral diseases are unique in that they are usually brought to the plant by an animal host, usually aphids. Viruses such as: Motley Dwarf, Thin Leaf Virus, and Aster Yellows are transmitted by aphids and leafhoppers.
The most effective way of controlling viral infections is by discouraging the presence of the associated plant pests. Keep the areas around the garden free of host weeds, such as wild carrots and queen ann’s lace. The best defense is to grow vigorous healthy plants. If your plants show stress they are most likely to be attacked. Keep an eye on them. If they show any signs of disease, quickly and ruthlessly remove them from the garden.
Coincidentally, the same conditions that allow fungus and bacteria to attack carrot roots also allow the same pathogens to attack carrot tops. The controls are the same; try not to plant in cold and wet conditions. Change the timing of your planting if you can.
TIP: If it is a very rainy or cool season, try growing the carrots under cover. Build a low hoop-tunnel over your beds to keep the rain off and the soil relatively dry.
You can harvest your carrots at virtually any size. When carrots are small they are more tender and are very good raw as snacks or on salads. Larger carrots provide more fiber and are slightly tougher, but are still excellent raw or cooked. Carrots are not susceptible to light frosts and will keep in the ground until the first hard freeze.
Carrots should be stored in a Class A (Cold Moist) storage area, with a temperature range of 32°F to 40°F, and relatively humidity of 90% to 95%. If stored properly, carrots can keep for weeks or even months in cold storage. After you harvest them, let them dry thoroughly in the sun if possible. Next cut the tops off about 3/4 of an inch above the carrot shoulder. Discard any carrots that have been damaged mechanically or that show any signs of mold or rot.
For short term storage, you can place them in perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. For longer term storage, you can place them in damp sawdust or sand and store them in a box on a cool in a cool dark porch or cellar. Do not let the carrots touch each other and periodically inspect them.
Carrots can also be frozen. After harvesting them, cut off the tops and wash them with a stiff vegetable brush. Blanch the carrots by placing them in boiling water for five minutes. If you slice them into smaller pieces, be sure to reduce the blanching time to a couple of minutes. Dip them in ice water. Drain all excess water and place them into freezer bags or other containers and put them in the freezer.
Many people have heard about “storing” carrots in the garden soil over the winter. This has a basis in history but is impractical in most of the country. First, overwintering relies on tough storage-type heirloom varieties that had dry, fibrous roots. Modern carrot hybrids are usually bred to be tender, crisp, sweet, and juicy -all characteristics that fare poorly in contact with cold wet winter soil.
Second, overwintering only works in areas of the country where the soil remains consistently frozen for months on end, and preferably had a protective blanket of snow. This has two advantages: the carrots are essentially frozen (like being in a mechanical freezer), and the life cycle of soil pests and pathogens is disrupted. Root-eating grubs and maggots are either dead or dormant, and root-damaging pathogens cannot function in frozen or near-frozen soil. These conditions can no longer be met in most of the country.
Carrots are one of the most favorite vegetables worldwide. Used in food preparation on virtually every continent, they are very versatile. They can be eaten raw or cooked. They can be pickled, juiced, or pureed. They can provide accent flavors or be used as the primary focus of a culinary dish.
|RELATED VEGETABLES & HERBS:||COMPANION PLANTING:|
|Celery||Onions and Scallions|
In a four-year crop rotation plan, Carrots are in Group D (Root Crops and Greens) which includes the other Carrot Family members (Celery, Fennel, Parsnips and Parsley) along with the Chenopods (Beets, Swiss Chard, and Spinach). Group D precedes Group A (Nightshades and Cucurbits) and follows Group C (Brassicas and Salad Greens).