Eat carrots raw in soups, stews and salads. Use them in making bread and cakes. Bake, broil and stir fry them. Make candied carrots and pies. Is there anything you can’t do with a carrot?
Carrots come in all shapes and sizes. Short, long, skinny, fat. Some are extra large and others can be round or some may be called baby carrots. Carrots may be orange, red, yellow, white, there is even a purple carrot. A to Z list Common Carrot Varieties
Carrots prefer cool weather and like a deep, loose soil with a lot of humus tilled in to your carrot bed/row. The soil should be kept slightly moist(Not Wet) through out the growing season. A soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8 is best but carrots can tolerate a pH of 5.5 to 7.5. Carrots require only moderate nitrogen. Use a fertilizer with a N-P-K of something like 5-15-5.
Direct seed carrots in your garden after your soil warms to at least 40%F but 50%F is much better. Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep and about 1 inch apart. Carrot seed may be slow to germinate. You should start seeing seedlings emerging in 7 to 21 days. Do not allow your soil to become dry. This will greatly hinder seed germination.
After your carrots are 2-3 inches tall, thin them to a 2 or 3 inch spacing. Over crowding will cause your carrots to be very small or not develop at all.. Cutting unwanted seedlings rather than pulling the seedlings reduces disturbance of the soil near your remaining plants.
Hint Carrot seeds may be stored up to 3 years.
Take care to keep your carrots weed free and (if you can) when carrots are 3 inches tall much well to help keep your soil cool and to retain moisture.
Make additional plantings every two or three weeks through midsummer for continuous supply and a fall harvest. Sowing in very early spring is possible, however some varieties will bolt if temperatures are too cold. Plant crops for fall harvest about 10 to 12 weeks before first frost.
Carrots will tolerate light frost without plant damage. Carrots become sweeter after being exposed to frost conditions. Protect your carrot crop. After the first hard frost, cover your carrots with a heavy(thick) layer of mulch and enjoy fresh home grown carrots most it not all winter.
Select your carrot seed carefully.
Long varieties require deep loose rock free soils. Keep in mind the length of your growing season. Consider the time required to mature and your temperatures. In some cases you may be better served to forgo spring planting and plant a fall crop.
Carrots depending on variety can mature in as little as 55 days or as long as 85 days. This is of course is days from emergent to harvest, not days from planting seed.
Here is a list of carrot types for your consideration:
Imperator — Up to 10 inches long, slender.
Danvers — Up to 7 inches long, slender, but wider at the top than the Imperator types and have strong flavor.
Nantes — Up to 7 inches long, more cylindrical than tapered, sweet flavor.
Chantenay — Up to 5 inches, wide at the top and tapering.
Amsterdam — Up to 3 inches long, thin and slender, good for early harvest and less-than-ideal soil conditions.
Paris Market — Round, short, about 1 ½ inches in diameter.
Cornell University has a very useful fact sheet on Carrot Varieties
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