By Gohar Umar, FAMU Extension Horticulture Agent, and Shelley Swenson, UF/IFAS Family and Consumer Sciences Agent
Spring is here and carrots are one of the few vegetables growing which are ready to be harvested. Since carrots are a cool season crop, they can be planted in early spring or in fall.
Carrots are a root crop, and some of the other root crops like turnips, radish, beets, parsnip and rutabagas, will grow in the same cool weather and horticultural environment.
Carrots have been grown worldwide for more than 2000 years, originating in Europe and southwestern Asia. This crop is grown for its sweet crunchy roots.
Growing carrots is easy and takes a very small space if planted 2 inch apart. Soil preparation is very important as they grow well in deep loose soil.
Soil test analysis is helpful before planting any crop, with a good pH for carrots at 6 to 6.5. Urea nitrogen applied at ¾ cup per 100 square feet will help, applying half when preparing bed and half as side dressing after germination.
The seedlings must be thinned after the germination to let the taproots develop. They must not be transplanted or the roots will fork.
Appropriate watering is critical as root crops need at least one inch of rainfall or irrigation once a week. Always saturate the soil thoroughly when watering as this helps to encourage root growth.
Light watering is not good for root crops as it promotes the shallow root growth and can stress carrots deep growing roots. Do not expose the carrots taproot to sunlight and cover exposed roots as they will turn green.
Carrots are full of nutrients. The benefits are so many that people should include them in their daily diet not only to develop healthy lifestyle but to inhibit various disease.
These colorful roots are sweet and healthy with their taproots packed with antioxidants and vitamin A but with only 41 calories for every 100 grams. Vitamin A and beta-carotenes help prevent mouth and lung cancer.
Fresh carrots also contain vitamin C and B-complex Vitamins necessary for increased metabolism.
For that style conscience, these roots are not only orange in color but are also purple, red, white and yellow in color. These roots are used in salads, cooked as meal, dessert and incorporated in drinks as well.
Carrots grow very slow for few beginning weeks after the seed are sown, so they cannot compete with weeds. It is very important that weeds should be pulled out or shallow cultivation around the crop often will control the weeds. Carrots are close to surface so it’s important not to cultivate deep as that can damage the crop.