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Carrots

Carrots In Your Home Garden

The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.

—Paul Cezanne

I never liked carrots much. Oh, I did like carrots in a hearty beef stew, and I could tolerate my mother’s carrot and raisin salad. For some reason, I did worship carrot cake. But, eating boiled carrots or even munching on them raw, was not for me. Worse still was the carrot juice my grandfather made and drank by the tumbler full.

Times have changed and so have my tastes. When I first tasted honey-glazed carrots, seasoned with rosemary, a little garlic salt, Himalayan salt and freshly ground pepper changed everything for me. The dish brought out a melange of flavors in carrots I never knew existed. Once introduced to the delicate flavors, I began to appreciate the lowly tuber.

Carrots are incredibly easy to grow, and, if the soil is right, then you can have a lot of carrots.

Tips on growing carrots

Ridges or No Ridges

Carrots  are easy to grow. Some instructions say to create raised rows for carrots. I have done raised rows (inside my raised beds).  If your garden drains poorly, a 4- to 6-inch ridge will help increase your yield significantly. Place the ridges 1 to 2 feet  apart. The miniscule seeds are not easy to sow, especially if you have big hands or your hands shake. If that’s the case, then there’s no reason to take the time  because you will have seeds scattered everywhere. A great way to sow the seeds safely is to put them in an old spice shaker and sprinkle then along the row.  Since I have well drained soil, I simply make an 1/8 inch trough with the handle of my how, and dropped the tiny seeds along the trough.

When to Plant

Carrots do not like hot weather.  Ideal temperatures for carrots are nighttime temps of 55 degrees F and daytime temps of 75 degrees F. I plant mine in late October and they’re ready to harvest in early January.

Fertilizing

Before you plant, mix in  a low nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) fertilizer. I use a 6-2-4  or 4-4-4 organic fertilizer in my entire garden. You don’t need to use much. Two tablespoons for every 10 feet of row should do the trick.

Do this again when the stalks are 6-8 inches high. It’s important not to use too much fertilizer on your carrots. If you do, you’ll end up with a lot of bushy carrot stalks, and not much else. If you’re planting in soil with a high amount of organic matter (compost), you’ll need little or no fertilizer.

Compost

Since I do use a lot of compost in my garden, I make my own. But I can never make enough, so I have to buy  from a reputable compost company. If you’re looking for an organically certified compost provider, in your area you can go to FindaComposter.com.  The US Composting Council also lists compost companies that are certified.

Weeds, Insects and Diseases

There are some common fungal diseases associated with carrots.  Sulfur works wonders as does Bacillus subtilis. For insects, use b=Bacillus thuringensis (BT).

Harvesting

Carrots should be ready to harvest in 70—80 days.

A few fun facts about carrots

  1. We can credit Afghanistan with the development of the carrot. They bred it from Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus corota.  The first carrots were purple.
  2. Carrots contain huge amounts of Vitamin A,  as well as calcium, phosphorous and potassium.
  3. It was originally grown for it’s seeds and aromatic leaves.
  4. The ancient Greeks used it as a “love medicine” and called it “philtron”, which means “loving.”
  5. There are four different materials that sound like “carrot.”
    1. Carrot –the plant.
    2. Karat—the weight of gold.
    3. Carat—the size of a diamond.
    4. Caret—The symbol  (^) used to indicate the place in writing material which some thing needs to be inserted.
  6. China is the number 1 producer of carrots.
  7. It is the fourth most consumed vegetable in the U.S.
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