About growing carrots

   Carrots as we know them were first found growing around the Mediterranean. By the thirteenth century carrots were well established as a food in Europe and came with the first settlers to America, where Indians soon took up the culture.

   Carrots are adaptable, tolerant of mismanagement, and unequal for storing well over a long period, using nothing more than the soil in which they were grown. Carrots can be left in the ground over the winter, but they are usually less tender and tasty than if they are pulled in the fall.

   Carrots are grown from seed directly sown into the garden. Like most root crops, they do not transplant well. The best planting times are early spring and early summer. Each planting will mature in 60 to 85 days and can be harvested over a 2 to 4 month period. Small plantings every 3 weeks will ensure a continuous harvest. Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep; germination takes several weeks. Thin plants to 3 inches apart and use the thinnings in salads, stews and soups.

   Soil for carrots must be loose and very rich or the roots will be deformed. Manure, unless very rotted, causes roughness and branching and soil that is allowed to dry out causes carrots to split. Harvest carrots when they are 2 inches or less across; the smaller the tastier.

   Carrots differ mainly in their size and shape. Some are long, slender, and tapered; others are short, thick or even round. The short to medium or very short types are better adapted to heavy or rough soils than the long types. They are easier to dig too.

   Long varieties, range from 8 to 10 inches long. Tasty deep orange and some types can supply almost twice the amount of vitamin A as other carrots.

   Medium varieties,range in size from 6 to 8 inches long when mature. Some medium types tend to crack in wet fall weather. This type is great for juicing.

   Short varieties, range from 3 to 6 inches long when mature. They grow well in heavier soils and containers.

   Ball-shaped varieties, are more round than long, these are excellent for container growing or can be grown in shallow rocky soil.

   The tiny finger carrots are often the sweetest and grow well in containers. A light-weight soil mix is important, because their tops break off easily when being pulled from heavy soil. Roots are tender, sweet and just right for eating whole or pickling.

Tip; to get the most of this nutritious vegetable, don't pare or even scrape carrots, just scrub them well.