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Carrots, colorful and easy to grow veggies that are full of nutrition

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Carrots are easy to grow if you choose varieties that will do well in your conditions. For example, long, slim carrots do great in well drained, rock free soils. If you have rocks and pebbles in your garden, clay or compacted soils, a better choice would be round or blunt tipped carrots.

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Also consider what has been added to your soil recently. Compost is great, however, a fresh load of manure will cause carrots to form strange shapes and odd root hairs. Competition from weeds or other garden plants will cause carrots to not fulfill their potential, leading to garden frustration.

Here are some easy tips to consider when planting and harvesting carrots.

  • Plant seeds outdoors 3 to 5 weeks before the last spring frost date.
  • Carrots need deeply tilled soil that they can push through.
  • Fresh manure, or even recently applied rotted manure, can cause carrots to fork and send out little side roots.
  • Plant seeds 3-4 inches apart in rows. Rows should be at least a foot apart.
  • Gently mulch to retain moisture.
  • Once plants are an inch tall, thin so they stand 3 inches apart.
  • Keep carrots weeded as they do not like competition.
  • Carrots taste sweeter after a couple of frosts. Following the first frost over carrots with a layer of shredded leaves for harvesting later.
  • To store freshly harvested carrots, twist off leafy tops, carefully scrub off dirt under running water, let dry and seal in plastic bags, then refrigerate.
  • Carrots can also be stored in tubs of moist sand in a root cellar.

Choosing which variety to plant can be somewhat confusing as there are many to select from. Here are some of the top choices.

Danvers is a leading carrot that has been around since the late 1800s. Its a good producer, bright orange and does well in clay or heavy soils.

Scarlet Nantes is another heirloom carrot, this one is from the 1850s. Stores well, good freezing and great for juicing.

Carnival Blend is a blend of carrot seeds in a wide range of colors. White, cream, yellow, red, orange and purple are all represented.

Tonda di Parigi is a deep orange, round, tender carrot with sweet flavor. Its shallow roots mean it can grow well in a bed that isn’t tilled very deep, or in a container for urban gardeners.

You can find unusual carrot varieties on line at http://www.seedsavers.org and at http://www.botanicalinterests.com.

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