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Plant of the week: Carrots

Carrots are one of the more iconic root vegetables on the market with their long, orange stocks. They’re packed rich with vitamins and nutrients, making them ideal for not only adults but growing children. As the carrot and its varieties have evolved, it has learned to adapt to every growing season. While it can survive cold temperatures and frost, there’s no better time to plant your own carrots than spring.

Carrots have been dated back to over 10,000 years ago. A number of varieties were natural to parts of Asia and Europe. Back then, carrots came in many different colors such as purple, yellow and red. It wasn’t until they were cultivated by Dutch farmers in the 1500s that orange became a popular hybrid. Today, orange carrots are known as the Western variety, most popular in gardens across North America. With some diligent weeding and amply sunlight, you can grow your own carrots right in your back yard.

Carrot Q&A

1. Which variety of carrot should I choose to plant?

Carrot types are based on their length—some carrots grow just two inches long and wide while others can grow up to half a foot. The type you choose to grow should be based on the type of soil in your garden. If your soil is rocky, you’re better off growing a short stock variety. If your soil is loose and well drained, you’re safe to grow a longer variety.

2. What type of soil should I plant my carrots in?

It’s always best to try and plant carrots in soil that is well drained. Loose, airy soil is ideal for root plants such as carrots to make it easier for them to dig deep and grow. Either add compost or fertilize heavily when you first plant your carrots if the soil isn’t naturally rich.

3. How long does it take for carrots to mature?

Under a lot of sun and the right soil conditions, most varieties are ready within 70 days.

4. Are carrots prone to any pests or diseases?

White maggots are common on carrots. They tend to eat along the outside of the carrot as it grows, but this can be treated with a light insecticide. Of course, bunnies and rodents also love munching on carrot roots. Fence off the area accordingly if you have not already done so in your garden.

5. Why should I weed the soil around my carrots?

Because carrots are a root vegetable, they need undisturbed soil to thrive in underground. If the area is not weeded prior to planting, your carrots most likely won’t survive against these other invasive plants. It’s a lot of hard work to prepare the soil for carrots but the reward is well worth it!

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