The carrot is an edible, fleshy root with fine, feathery leaves. There are various shapes,sizes and colours: narrow and pointed, round, cylindrical, yellow, red, white, purple and of course, orange.The carrot is a member of the parsley family. Relatives include parsnips, fennel and dill.Carrots are a biennial vegetable, which means that if they are left in the ground for a second year they will produce white flower heads. When these flowers are pollinated they produce lots of carrot seed.Wild carrots have white roots, which are fibrous and inedible.
Scientific Name: Daucus carota subsp. sativus
Common Name: Carrot
How to grow and maintain carrots:
By regular sowing of suitable types you can have fresh, frozen or stored carrots all year round. As with most vegetables, they are at their best when freshly picked. Sow the small seeds 1cm deep, in rows 15cm – 30cm apart (spacing depends on type grown so check your packets). Sow thinly to avoid thinning out, or thin to 5 – 7cm apart. To help with sowing carrot seeds mix them with a small amount of sand and sprinkle them into the drill (row).
Light and Temperature:
Carrots prefer full sun, at least 6-8 hours a day. The soil temperature should be above 65°F before planting for best germination rates, and they do best with soil temperatures around 65°F range. Carrots preferred soil pH is about 6.5. Carrots need a well consistent soil that drains well. Compact soil can lead to slow and inconsistent root growth.
Water carrots with at least an inch of water a week. Do not let the soil get dry while the carrots are forming roots. The soil should drain well.
Three weeks after plants are well established and no longer seedlings add fertilizer to soil.
Days to Maturity:
Ranges from 60-80 days depending on variety. If planted early many areas can produce a fall crop.
Harvest carrots as soon as they are large enough to use. Carefully use a fork if the soil is heavy. If you have a large carrot crop, these can be lifted in late autumn and stored in a box of slightly damp sand so that you can have carrots to use through the winter. But for the best flavour and texture store them in the soil with a thick covering of straw or cardboard to keep out frosts.
Pest and Disease Problems:
Carrot fly is the main pest that may attack your crop. Try the methods set out above to minimise attack and grow a variety that offers some resistance, such as ‘Flyaway’. Root aphids and slugs can also occasionally damage the roots. Disease problems are unusual but can include leaf diseases and violet root rot.