The carrot is one of the most popular vegetables in the world. Indeed, this is due to its ease of cultivation, which allows one to obtain bountiful, top quality harvests. Given that it is an easy-to-grow vegetable, we give details pertaining to its growth as well as the timetable to follow for getting good results.

The carrot is a vegetable that belongs to the Apiaceae family and is known by the scientific name Daucus carota. It is a perennial that is very sensitive to frost. It is planted annually. The carrot is a fibrous plant with a slightly sweet and tender taste. It is generally elongated, but some varieties may be more or less rounded. Originally carrots had a purple colour but nowadays it is more orange, especially for elongated varieties that reach about 8 inches (20 cm) or so. Varieties that have a short and rounded shape have a colour tending to yellow. The varieties are diverse and include, among others, the Thumbelina, recognizable with its round shape about the size of a golf ball and orange colour, the Nantes Half Long, which is cylindrical  and of red-orange colour, the Yellowstone, which is slender and yellow, the Purple Dragon, characterized by its purple exterior and orange core and the Nelson, which produces classic carrots of deep orange colour and cylindrical shape.

Procedure for growing carrots

Before you jump to the actual cultivation of carrots, start by determining the location of the planting site and prepare the ground that will accommodate the vegetables. Regarding its location, the carrot thrives in a sunny area that has a humid and mild climate A spot in partial shade is equally suitable. In regard to the soil that must receive them, growing in pots is more suitable for short and spherical varieties, while growing in-ground in a vegetable garden is ideal for a classical cultivation. The carrot particularly likes to be planted on light, friable, loose, loamy, sandy and rich soil. Before sowing carrot seeds, it is recommended to remove couch grass stolons from the planting site. Similarly, create a stale seed bed two weeks prior to planting. This consists of preparing the ground well, that is to say, to till and water it periodically in order for the weeds to germinate and be cleared out before proceeding to sowing the carrot seeds.

Planting carrots thus begins by seeding once your soil is well prepared. Seeds should be prepared in advance and left to soak in warm water for two successive days prior to planting. They can also be sprouted in a seed tray  The next step is to make a half-inch (1 cm) deep furrow, before planting the seeds in the furrows and lightly covering everything with fine sand or potting soil. You will often need to lightly water your plants until they sprout. It is often necessary to protect against pests such as slugs with a plastic sheet or floating row covers. Plastic is recommended because it allows the plants to easily receive the heat required for germination. Note that each planting line or furrow should be spaced out about 8 inches (20 cm). Early and short-lasting varieties are sowed on a half-inch (1.5 cm) deep furrow,  in warm soil, under a cloche or a cold frame until the climate allows its removal, that is to say, once the sunny weather returns and the temperatures start to warm up. Sowing after the month of March is carried out on 3/4-inch (2 cm) deep furrow and the space between planting rows is about 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm). Normally, the carrot seedling sprouts within two to three weeks after being sown. One month after sowing, should proceed with the thinning; remove existing vegetation between the plant seedlings and leave a cleared one-inch (3 cm) gap between them. The second thinning is done when the plantlet has three leaves, in which case the free space between the seedlings is increased to 3 inches (8 cm). It is recommended to carry out thinning procedures only in the evening due to the fact that the removed and crushed carrot leaves release a strong scent that attracts carrot flies. Thus, it is recommended to thoroughly clean out the surroundings and to get rid of the removed leaf debris. Watering is essential after thinning. The third thinning is performed when the carrot reaches a length of 4 inches (10 cm) for elongated varieties and 2.5 inches (6 cm) for short varieties.  In this case, the space that will need to be left free will be of about 2 inches (5 cm). One weekly watering should be sufficient, however it should be quite abundant. The freshness of the soil can be preserved by covering the plants with straw.

Timetable for planting carrots

To grow carrots and monitor their growth successfully, it is advisable to refer to the following timetables. Sowing seeds is done from January until July. Early sowing, which takes place in January, is carried out under a cold frame. The seedlings emerge within two to three weeks after sowing. Carrots are ripe, meaning that they reach maturity, from the 12th week after sowing. Harvesting should be done between the 12th and 16th week after sowing.

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Published in Root vegetables by Alexander on 07 Sep 2011