Carrot is a root vegetable with a crisp texture, when fresh. One of the oldest recorded vegetables, carrot plants will hold in the ground for months until harvested, once they are ready.
The most commonly eaten part of a carrot is the taproot, although the greens are edible too. The root stores large amounts of sugars for the plant to flower in the second year.
Varieties and types:
Long tapering – Scarlet Nantes, Topweight, Touchon
Small round – Early Chantenay, Paris Market
Coloured carrots - purple, yellow and white
When, where and how to plant:
Like the beetroot, carrots are deep-rooting, though less extreme in demands.
Choose a well drained position in full sun. Soil must be well dug over prior to sowing of the seeds. The soil needs to be free of stones, clods and anything that will interfere with the root zone. As a rule, carrots succeed best on land that is inclined to sandiness rather than in adhesive loams.
Some varieties of carrots can be grown all year round. Generally, you can only grow carrots from seed, as they do not transplant well. You may find the small variety in a punnet but not any of the long varieties.
Once carrot seedlings are up they are very susceptible to carrot aphids. Watch carefully for these and apply a good organic insect spray. Water regularly throughout the hot months. Thin carrots as they grow to enable larger carrots to grow. If you do not thin your carrots, they will become crowded and susceptible to disease and rot.
Harvest once reasonable carrots have developed. If you pick the long, tapering carrots as they develop you will have a long harvest season.
To pull carrots gently loosen soil with a fork and lift carefully. Try to stagger where you pick them from so the carrots remaining in the ground have more room to grow.
How to use:
Carrots gets their characteristic and bright orange colour from beta-carotene, which is metabolised into vitamin A in humans. They are also rich in dietary fibre and antioxidants.
Use carrots either on their own as a vegetable or in salads, stir-fries, soups or casseroles. Carrots will keep for up to six weeks in the fridge if washed and dried before storing.