Growing Carrots in Your Vegetable Garden

MOTHER'S vegetable garden shares how to grow carrots, including the history and horticulture of the carrot, what, where, when and how to plant, pests, and how to harvest and store carrots.

| January/February 1988

MOTHER'S vegetable garden shares how to grow carrots, including the history and horticulture of the carrot, what, where, when and how to plant, pests, and how to harvest and store carrots. 

Growing Carrots in Your Vegetable Garden

A few years back, a study of the effects of sounds on stress revealed that the noises made when chewing crunchy foods seemed to relieve tension. I can't vouch for that report, but I know there is a special pleasure in the crispy crunch of a carrot, and it's especially sweet when the root is homegrown.

As I write this, carrots from the autumn garden stand upright in a glass on my desk, waiting to be munched while I contemplate the coming sentence. And even if my nibbling fails to relieve the stress of an approaching deadline, I'm still supplying my body with a high dose of vitamin A, which increases disease-resistance in such moist body membranes as eyes and throat and helps maintain vision in. the face of computer-monitor eyestrain. (Vitamin A is also essential for children's growth and important to the production of sex hormones.) In addition to supplying more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A, each raw, low-calorie root provides me with vitamins B, C, D, E and K, along with beta carotene, which may help ward off cancer.

What Carrot Varieties to Plant

Some think the carrot is a native of Afghanistan. We know it's been cultivated in the Mediterranean region for over 2,000 years, and that Asians and Greeks have prized its medicinal qualities for centuries. About 600 years ago, Daucus carota spread east to China and north to Europe. Flemish refugees brought the vegetable to England during the reign of Elizabeth I, and it accompanied the first settlers to this continent. But it wasn't until some 100 years ago that French horticulturist Vilmorin-Andrieux turned the small, white root of this biennial, which resembles Queen Anne's lace, into the plump, succulent, brightly colored vegetable we enjoy today.

Until recently, about the only carrot varieties found in seed catalogues were the good-eating Nantes; the short, stout Chantenay; the hefty Imperator; and the long, slender Danvers. Today, these have all been improved, and a host of new hybrids, including carrots with white, yellow, crimson, or purplish roots, have come on the scene. There are early and late types, with the time from planting to harvest ranging from 55 to 80 days. Carrots also come in all sizes and shapes: fat, slender, medium-sized, round, finger-length and bite-sized midgets.

The taste and texture of a carrot are more likely to depend on proper cultivation in a good soil than on the choice of a particular cultivar, but varieties can have special qualities. For example, Tip Top (a large Nantes) is great for juicing; Juwarot (a Danvers) has nearly double the vitamin A content of most carrots; King Midas is disease- and crack-resistant; thick-shouldered Goldinheart (a Chantenay) does well in heavy soils and freezes nicely; Belgium White is especially delicious in salads; Baby Finger Nantes is excellent for cooking; and Golden Ball (early, round, two-inch-diameter) is ideal for shallow soil.

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