Updated: Mar 24
The carrot is a root vegetable, typically orange in color, though purple, black, red, white, and yellow cultivars exist, all of which are domesticated forms of the wild carrot, native to Europe and Southwestern Asia. The scientific name of carrot is Daucus carota and it belongs to the Apiaceae family.
The plant probably originated in Persia and was originally cultivated for its leaves and seeds. The most commonly eaten part of the plant is the taproot, although the stems and leaves are also eaten.
Table of Contents
24- 35 inches (60 - 90 cm)
0.5 - 0.8 inches (1 - 2 cm)
5.6 – 6.0 (Moderately acidic), 6.1 – 6.5 (Slightly acidic), 6.6 – 7.3 (Neutral), 7.4 – 7.8 (Slightly alkaline)
Types of Carrots
There is a seemingly endless number of carrot varieties in an array of sizes and colors.
‘‘Bolero’: slightly tapered; 7 to 8 inches; resists most leaf pests and blights.
‘Danvers’: classic heirloom; 6 to 8 inches long, that tapers at the end and has a rich, dark orange color; suited to heavy soil.
‘Little Finger’: heirloom; a small Nantes type of carrot only 4 inches long and one inch thick; good for containers.
‘Nantes’: cylindrical (not tapered); 6 to 7 inches; exceptionally sweet; crisp texture.
‘Thumberline’: heirloom; round carrot, good for clumpy or clay soil and containers.
For unusual color, try heirloom ‘Red Cored Chantenay’ and bright ‘Solar Yellow’.
Carrots vs. Parsnips
Carrots can often be confused with parsnips. That's because not all carrots are orange, and many types of carrots and parsnips are the same color and shape. Carrots and parsnips (Pastinaca sativa) also share the same family. The biggest difference between the two is their taste; Carrots are sweet and parsnips have a spicy bite. Often they are both used in the same recipe to bring full flavor to a dish.
One serving of carrots is a half cup. One serving has:
6 grams of carbohydrates
2 grams of fiber
3 grams of sugar
0.5 grams of protein
Carrots are a great source of important vitamins and minerals. A half-cup can give you up to:
73% of your daily requirement of vitamin A
9% of your daily vitamin K
8% of your daily potassium and fiber
5% of your daily vitamin C
2% of your daily calcium and iron
Carrots grow well in cool weather. You can begin planting carrot seedlings or sowing carrot seeds as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring, even two to three weeks before the last frost. You can succession plant carrots every couple of weeks throughout the spring. In warmer climates, you might have better luck growing carrots in the fall and through the winter.
Selecting a Site
Carrots will do well in a spot that's sunny six to eight hours a day or with a little shade in late afternoon. The soil should be loose, sandy, and well-drained because carrots will mature very slowly with rough roots if they are forced to grow in heavy soil. Growing carrots in raised beds with fluffy soil is the ideal situation.
Spacing, Depth, and Support
Correctly spacing carrots is the key to harvesting a healthy crop, but it's not always easy and requires plenty of thinning. Plant seeds 1/4 inch below the surface of the soil as evenly as possible two to three inches apart. Seedlings will be okay if some of them sprout 1/2 inch apart, but as they grow, they typically require about three inches of space between them. Snipping or pinching the seedlings off at the soil line is the best way to avoid hurting the nearby roots. Carrots don't need support; But, they don't like to be transplanted or disturbed, either.
Watering: It is important that carrots receive approximately one inch (2.5 cm) of water per week during the growing season, especially during the summer. Since shallow watering will do little to promote root development and may result in crop stress, be sure to thoroughly wet the soil, not just the surface. In addition, depending on the soil type, carrots may need additional watering, as sandy soils tend to drain faster than clay soils.
Fertilizing: A soil test should always be performed before fertilizing to see how the soil should be amended. Otherwise, it is recommended to apply a 5-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of 30 pounds per 1,000 square feet (46 kg per km2). If carrot is planted in a sandy area, it may be necessary to add more fertilizer occasionally throughout the growing season. It is recommended to mix well-composted organic material into the soil before planting. However, do not mix fresh manure into the soil, as it may stimulate weed growth and cause the carrot roots to branch.
Weed Control: It is recommended to mulch the growing area in order to conserve soil moisture. Moreover, carrots germinate and grow best under cool conditions, and mulching over the area will help to keep the soil cool and protect the exposed top of the carrot root. If the top of the carrot receives too much sunlight, it may turn green and taste bitter.
Pests & Diseases Control
A common pest that may affect carrots is the carrot root fly, which is actually a maggot that feeds on the roots. Carrot root flies are best controlled by harvesting carrots as soon as possible. It is not recommended to apply an insecticide directly to the carrot root. However, it is possible to apply a soil insecticide prior to planting. Another pest that can damage a carrot crop is the flea beetle, which chews holes in carrot leaves and often spreads diseases among the crop. To control these and other flying insects, it is recommended to use a floating row cover that provides a barrier to insects while still allowing light and rainfall to reach the plants. Some organic and synthetic insecticides are available, but should always be used with care.
Carrots may be susceptible to leaf spots caused by fungi. If leaf spots occur, apply an approved fungicide. In order to prevent fungal infection year after year, be sure to rotate crops appropriately, do not overwater, and plant carrots in well-draining soil.
Carrots are typically harvested two to three months after planting, when the root has reached a diameter of 0.5 - 0.8 inches (1.3 - 2.0 cm). To make harvesting easier, use a spade to loosen the soil around the carrots, or soak the ground with water. Grasp the carrot at the crown of the greens and gently twist and tug the carrot out of the ground at the same time.
Carrots are biennial. If you fail to harvest and leave the carrots in the ground, the tops will flower and produce seeds in the next year.
To store carrots, thoroughly wash the root to remove any dirt or debris. Cut the root approximately one inch (2.5 cm) from the crown. Store carrots at 32°F (0°C) in a space with high humidity, such as a refrigerator. When kept at the proper temperature and humidity, carrots can be kept for four to six months.
Health Benefits of Carrots
Carrots have a wealth of antioxidants and offer many health benefits. Here are the highlights:
They’re good for eyes: This is probably the best-known carrot superpower. They're rich in beta-carotene, a compound of body changes into vitamin A, which helps keep eyes healthy. And beta-carotene helps protect eyes from the sun and lowers the chances of cataracts and other eye problems. Yellow carrots have lutein, which is also good for eyes.
They can lower your risk of cancer: Antioxidants have been proven to fight off harmful free radicals in the body, and that can make less likely to have cancer. The two main types of antioxidants in carrots are carotenoids and anthocyanins. Carotenoids give carrots their orange and yellow colors, while anthocyanins are responsible for red and purple coloring.
They help your heart: First, all those antioxidants are also good for heart. Second, the potassium in carrots can help keep blood pressure in check. And third, they have fiber, which can help to stay at a healthy weight and lower the chances of heart disease. Red carrots also have lycopene, which helps prevent heart disease.
They boost your immune system: The vitamin C in carrots helps the body to build antibodies that defend immune system. Vitamin C also helps the body to take in and use iron and prevent infections.
They can help with constipation: If having trouble going to the bathroom, try munching on some raw carrots. With their high fiber content, they can help ease constipation and keeps regular.
They can help control diabetes: People with diabetes are advised to load up on non-starchy vegetables, including carrots. The fiber in carrots can help keep blood sugar levels under control. And they’re loaded with vitamin A and beta-carotene, which there’s evidence to suggest can lower diabetes risk.
They can strengthen your bones: Carrots have calcium and vitamin K, both of which are important for bone health.
Risks of Carrots
Eating too much beta-carotene, it can make skin turn an orange-yellow color. This condition is called carotenemia. It’s relatively harmless and usually can be treated. But in extreme cases, it can keep vitamin A from doing its job and affect vision, bones, skin, metabolism, or immune system.
Too much beta-carotene also may cause problems for people who can’t change it to vitamin A, such as people who have hypothyroidism.
For some people, eating carrots can make their mouths itch. That’s something called oral allergy syndrome. The body reacts to the proteins in certain fruits and vegetables as if they were pollens allergic to. It doesn't tend to happen if the carrots are cooked.