It is an edible root full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The carrot originated in Central Asia, mainly the leaves and seeds were consumed, since the root had a woody texture. After many years of domestication, we reached the edible varieties that we have today. Carrot is a root that we commonly know orange, with a delicious and delicate sweet taste. But there are many colors and shapes in carrots, we can find them white, yellow, reddish or purple.
Carrots are low-calorie legumes and a type of root vegetables, such as turnips, onions, garlic, leeks or beets; With numerous nutritional advantages.
Thanks to its high content of beta-carotenes (precursor of vitamin A) one of its main advantages is to prevent the degenerative processes of the skin. The carrot improves vision, is diuretic, anti-carcinogenic and lowers cholesterol.
Carrots are easy to grow, however they are a demanding vegetable with the type of soil where they are going to be sown, so before starting the sowing the soil must be prepared. The soil should preferably be clayey, rich in potassium and with a slightly neutral pH. It is also recommended to sow in seasons or cool places, since sowing in summer or in dry soils will cause an intense and demanding irrigation system.
Soils in which tomatoes or onions have previously been sown, are good for carrot cultivation. While it should be avoided in those where cereals or celery have been grown. A good way to sow carrots is that which gives them firm, straight, with a bright orange color, high water and sugar content, with a low bitter taste and without the presence of the green center, which is usually given by intense exposure to the sun.
When are carrots sown?
Carrot sowing can be done throughout the year, however it is preferred during the spring, between the months February-May (northern hemisphere) August-November (southern hemisphere).
A semi-shade is recommended in summer to avoid intense sun exposure and the consequent loss of moisture.
What collection time do carrots have?
It is recommended to collect the carrots before the root ends its development, approximately 5 cm in diameter, in this way you will get tender and juicy carrots. The collection time is approximately 90 to 120 days (3 to 4 months), although there are areas where they are left up to 7 months, everything will depend on the type of crop you are looking for and the climatic conditions. When picking the carrots, they must first be removed from the ground, then washed, cut the branches and then stored.
The collection can be done manually, if it is a small home garden, or it can be done semi-mechanically or mechanically, depending on the tools that are attached to the collection tractor.
It is advisable to sow carrots in places that have a mild climate, although currently thanks to genetic engineering there are varieties that can adapt to almost any climate, so this is not an aspect that restricts their planting.
What does the earth need?
On the other hand, as the type of soil will be detailed below if it is crucial for planting, the most suitable soil is a sandy soil, rich in humus, but not in fresh manure.
Carrots can be sown at home, since their care is not demanding and a regular watering can be used to provide the necessary water.
You only need a pot that is at least 25 cm deep and keep in mind that between each carrot there should be a space between 8 and 10 cm.
The land is a fundamental part of planting. We are looking for a sandy, clayey, limestone soil, that is, a land that has the capacity to retain water. In addition, it must be fresh, rich in potassium and decomposed organic matter, with a pH between 5-8.
If the soil is very compact and heavy, it will give small, fibrous and light roots that increase the risk of rot.
If there are many stones on the earth, the roots formed will be deformed and if there is an excessive content of organic waste, the roots will be dry and soft.
How to water the carrots?
When watering carrots, the important thing is to maintain a constant humidity without sudden changes and always have wet soil, so watering should be frequent, but not excessive.
Drip irrigation in this case is ideal.
We can water two or three times a week for 30 to 45 minutes, however the amount of water and the frequency of watering will depend on the type of soil and its ability to retain moisture, what is important is to seek a deep watering, which Reach the whole carrot.
The irrigation process intensifies and should be monitored in times of intense sun, such as summer or in very dry soils.
How to sow carrots?
It is a fairly simple procedure to perform, sometimes it is recommended to leave the seeds two days before on a damp paper, to help with moisture.
At the time of planting the seed, a groove is made in the ground that has a depth of 1-2 cm. Each groove should be separated, considering that each carrot plant will need approximately 10 cm in diameter to grow.
However, it is recommended to make furrows every 2.5cm approximately, as the plant begins to grow, space is being removed by removing the weakest plants, this process is known as rinsing.
During the rinse the distance between each shoot should be between 8-10 cm.
Once the furrows are made, they are placed between 4-5 seeds in each one, they are covered with earth and it is expected until germination that is the appearance of the first shoots.
When the plants appear we should left 1 carrot for every 2.5 cm, removing the leftover plants. Once the plants begin to grow, the operation should be repeated but now leaving 8 cm away for each carrot plant.
The carrot is delayed in appearing, so do not despair if it has been many days since they planted it and a small plant does not appear yet.
At present, many people at home are not buying the seeds to sow carrots, but rather make a regrowth with the top of another carrot.
To do this, simply cut the top of a carrot and place them in a bowl of water. It is not necessary that the water completely cover the whole piece of carrot, it will be enough with about 2 fingers of water.
After a few weeks, it will begin to germinate and at this time you can proceed to plant them in the pot.
It is important to remember that it is not convenient to transplant carrots, so if space is needed, you should always use the rinse, to leave only the strongest shoots.
How is the maintenance?
As explained above that sowing carrots does not require special maintenance beyond adequate moisture in the soil, although it is one of the most sensitive weed crops as will be detailed below.
The temperature will affect it directly, but in general the optimum is to look for 16-18 C, with the minimum growth temperature being approximately 9 C. Although it is able to withstand temperatures of up to -5 C for some period.
The maximum temperature supported is around 28 C, above it will accelerate the aging of the root and a loss of color and moisture that will cause dried carrots.
As it has been said repeatedly, carrots have a preference for temperate climates but the plant also requires sun, so it is necessary that the planting receives sun during the day, the important thing is always to keep the humidity in the soil relatively constant and Do not exceed 28 C.
However, during planting some defects can be found such as:
Bruises are caused by improper handling.
Holes / Tunnels
It must be verified if it is due to the presence of pests.
It is very common for carrots to produce new stems after harvest, causing double shoots.
This problem can be corrected by maintaining a low temperature after harvest.
If the growing conditions are below the standards, the roots of the carrots will have patches or streaks of a whitish color.
Carrots have a bitter taste due to irrigation-related stress conditions, during cultivation, that is, inadequate irrigation frequencies produce the bitter taste.
Similarly, the bitter taste can be given by mixing with other plants such as apples, so close space between these plants should be avoided.
What pests should we avoid and how to do it?
Remember that pests are animals, usually insects, or unwanted microorganisms that feed on plants, destroying crops, decreasing their production and / or value, but they can also carry diseases.
For all of them, there is a chemical control method that can however cause toxicity.
As for the most common pests that attack carrots and how to fight them, we find:
The carrot fly
Scientific name: Psylla rosae.
Flies usually appear during spring, however previously the larvae have caused damage to the roots, penetrating them, which will cause rot.
In the case of home sowing, a fine mesh or net can be placed on the pot, especially in autumn, which is when this pest is usually reproduced. You can also plant near garlic or onion, which thanks to its smell will drive away flies.
Scientific name: Cavariella aegopodii, Aphis spp, Myzus persicae.
Aphids directly damage the crop, mainly at leaf level and are vectors of viral diseases. Seven-spot ladybugs (Coccinella septempunctata) provide biological control against aphids.
Scientific name: Agrotis spp.
The caterpillars that originate these worms leave at night to eat the aerial parts of the plants, while at daytime they hide under dry leaves or remain in the ground.
Scientific name: Agriotes obscurus, A. sputator, A. lineatus.
These worms cause damage similar to that caused by carrot flies, because they attack the roots producing channels that can cause rot.
Scientific name: Heterodera carotae, Meloidogyne spp.
Nematodes are a very wide and widespread pest in the planting of carrots, and can occur in both home crops and in the open field. Its main feature is that they cause significant damage to the roots, as well as reduction of foliage and reddish leaves.
It is one of the most frequent. Since it usually appears in temperate climates. While the Meloidogyne spp. They are more widespread in hot climates.
The most effective method to combat these nematodes is to irrigate the earth with hot water, since they are sensitive to temperatures greater than 40 C.
Likewise, if other vegetables are grown on the ground, the crop can be rotated to a plant that is not sensitive to nematodes and then re-sow carrots.
Protection during the early stages is essential to also avoid weeds.
How to harvest carrot?
The complete harvest of the carrot will begin when it reaches its maximum diameter (4-5 cm).
The way to do it will be directly pulling them off or helping you with a shovel. We will know seeing the top of the carrot, which will stand out from the ground.
When harvesting carrots, special care should be taken not to damage it, if one is damaged, it should not be stored with the others. This is why it is recommended to remove carrots from the ground with the hand and not with another element
Once carrots are harvested, they also do not require special preservation.
It is recommended to cut the foliage as it removes moisture and nutrients from the root, and can be stored in the refrigerator at a temperature between 3-5 C for a maximum of 5 months.
Ideal carrots should be firm, straight, bright orange and with a sweet taste, the thickness may depend on the type of seed, climate and crop used.
Care and tips
Maintain moisture in the soil, avoid excess water.
Weeding to avoid pests and diseases.
Remove old and yellow leaves from plants.
Slightly loosen the soil if a scab forms, be careful not to hurt the plants.
Carrots can be associated with lettuce, cabbage, peas, onions and tomatoes.
Avoid planting carrots where there were plants of the Apiaceae family (dill, celery, coriander, fennel, parsley, etc.) so that pests and diseases will be avoided.