The carrot is a plant native to the temperate regions of Europe, cultivated for the roots with taproots used for food purposes both raw and cooked. The cultivated varieties have fleshy roots of variable shape and white, orange or red color and are rich in dyes and vitamins.
Carrot is an indispensable vegetable in the kitchen. It can be cooked as a side dish, eaten raw or become part of the most classic of fried, the basis of many Italian dishes. Given its sweetness it can also be used for making pastry recipes, such as cakes or tarts. If we combine these qualities with the ease of cultivation we will see that it becomes almost unthinkable not to include it in our plot.
The carrot belongs to the family of Apiaceae and, like all these, it is characterized by finely carved leaves. The root, of which we feed ourselves, is actually an enlarged central taproot, whose length can go from 30 to 60 cm. The shape is mostly elongated in the shape of a cone, but there are also rounded varieties. The most classic color is orange, but in ancient times it was available on the market in a wide range of colors: from white to yellow, to red, to deep purple.
It's about a biennial herbaceous plant. The second year develops an erect stem and numerous umbel white inflorescences.
It is native to the Eurasian continent and Africa. Even today it can be found spontaneously, especially where the soil is poor, arid and gravelly.
Carrot is a species suitable for temperate climates. It is therefore cultivated with good results throughout Italy.
The carrot is in this respect very adaptable. However, the best results are obtained in areas characterized by temperate and humid climate, with temperatures that remain as stable as possible. Indeed, temperature changes are the cause of interruption of growth.
The growth and coloring of the taproot is in fact influenced by both the climate and the hours of light available daily. Cold (between 10 and 15 ° C) or heat (above 21 ° C) can give pale roots. The optimum temperature is between 15 and 21 ° C.
Excessive cold, followed by strong heat, instead stimulates the seedling of the seedling and the lack of suitable roots for consumption.
THE CARROT IN BRIEF
Type of vegetation
Annual or biennial herbaceous plant
Height at maturity
|From 30 to 60 cm|
|Germination: minimum temperature days||13/5 ° C|
|Depth of sowing||1-2 cm|
|Resistance to cold||Rather rustic|
|Ground||Sandy, light, deep|
|soil pH||Neutral or sub-alkaline|
|Distance between rows||20 cm|
|Distance in the row||5 cm|
The carrot in this respect is not particularly demanding. The only indispensable cure is frequent hoeing to eliminate the onset of weeds whose roots could enter into competition and would be a strong brake on the already slow growth of our vegetable.
The other treatments help to obtain beautiful and large carrots and in the following paragraphs we will see together what are all the aspects to consider for a correct cultivation of carrots. Land, irrigation, fertilization and pest control will be the main aspects on which to focus our attention and our efforts.
The ideal soils are those loose, of medium texture, sandy or calcareous - clayey, rich in organic substance and free from water stagnation. We do not recommend stony soils to avoid radical bifurcations.
Rotation: the carrot exploits the residual organic substances of previous crops. It can follow leek or garlic as a renewal crop. It cannot be repeated before three years to avoid parasitic attacks. You should not grow after the garden beet, as it could be affected by root rot, caused by parasites that often attack that species.
To obtain well-developed taps it is necessary to have a deep, light and well-worked soil. Only in these conditions, in fact, is the growth regular, without encountering obstacles, and the shape is consequently the classical elongated cone shape.
In general, it prefers limestone, fertile and slightly basic substrates. They must also be able to keep slightly moist, but still with excellent drainage.
It is therefore important to work the area in time, digging at a depth of at least 30-40 cm, carefully crumbling the clods. In case of excessive compactness it is good to mix abundant compost or seasoned organic soil conditioner, together with a good quantity of sand.
This root vegetable can be grown throughout the year, especially if a greenhouse is available.
You can start sowing already from autumn, continuing until February, in a warm greenhouse. In this period the harvest will take place after about three months.
In Center-Sud, in late winter, you can already sow outdoors, especially if our plot is well exposed and sheltered from the winds. In this case we choose varieties characterized by rapid growth, so that they can be harvested within two months, before the arrival of the great heat.
In Center-North sowing in the open field can be done in March-April or from August to October. In these months optimal temperatures are generally guaranteed. As winter approaches, it will be good to cover the crop with abundant mulch to prevent the alternation of frost and warmness from freezing the young seedlings.
Sowing can be spread, but it is not very advisable, as it does not allow easy hoeing and weeding, or in rows at a depth of one or two millimeters. In row sowing, the distance on the rows will be 5 - 6 cm and 20 cm between rows.
The early varieties they are sown in January - March, and in this case the roots are gathered in August; the half-days in April - May, the late ones from the end of August to the end of October to obtain a production in the autumn-winter period; it is advisable to sow seeds every 15-25 days, in this way roots are obtained at different times and consequently it will be possible to have fresh carrots for a long period of time.
Association: it can be grown with radish, spinach, pea and lettuce;
The sowing can take place in boxes, in alveolar trays or in open fields (in broadcaster or in rows).
In the latter case it will be necessary to intervene after germination to carry out thinning, possibly with moist soil to avoid damaging nearby plants.
The ideal distance, even in the case of transferring seedlings, is 20 cm between the rows and 5-6 cm on the row.
THE CARROT CALENDAR
Waiting before harvesting
|About 100 days|
|Sowing outdoors February-March||About 120-140 days|
|Summer sowing||About 180 days|
Carrot harvest is scalar and depends on the sowing period. Carrots are harvested by grubbing. The roots present in the soil in the autumn must be harvested when it starts to rain, because otherwise they can rot.
After harvesting, the carrots can be dried by spreading them in a ventilated room, after which they are cleaned from the soil and stored in an environment where the temperature does not drop below freezing, in crates, or layered in sand.
If we want small carrots we will have to collect them a short time after thinning.
Carrots grown in winter take 80 to 100 days to be ready. Carrots sown in spring take 120 to 140 days instead. The summer crop, on the other hand, is ready in the autumn, in no less than 180 days, but producing roots that can be preserved for most of the winter.
The harvest is carried out with the help of a pitchfork, raising the whole clod and freeing the roots by pulling the foliage.
If we want to keep the carrots for cold periods it will be good to leave at least half a day in the sun, so that they lose moisture and do not risk the onset of mold.
To keep them for a long time we can prepare some boxes filled with very dry sand. We place the carrots inside them, preventing them from touching each other. Let's place them in a cool, airy place, away from frost and excessive humidity.
The irrigations must be light and regular. The substrate should never dry out completely, but water stagnation must be avoided. It is extremely important to administer water at room temperature: if it is too cold it can cause cracking.
The carrot requires a soil rich in humus and well ventilated. It is at the same time very sensitive to excess nitrogen, which could favor the onset of cryptogams and the attack of numerous phytophagous insects.
The advice is to distribute plenty of seasoned manure when the previous crop begins. In this way you will have time to improve the texture of the soil and completely mineralize its components. Generally, 35 ° q of manure per hectare is sufficient.
If at the time of the digging the area is poor or not suitable we can incorporate at most 300 quintals per hectare of manure, but very well seasoned.
Adversity to cultivation
Fertilizations: during the preparation of the soil manure must not be administered, but the manure of the previous year must be exploited. If you want to use inorganic fertilizers, 50-60 g / m2 of a suitable ternary mineral fertilizer is distributed.
When the plants are developing, they are given 20 g / m2 of calcium nitrate.
Cultivation: the soil must always be kept free from weeds, carrying out repeated weeding and trimming.
Irrigation: during periods in which it does not rain it is necessary to water abundantly but avoid stagnant water.
Adversity: the carrot aphid: it attacks the leaves, which do not develop and have bleached areas.
The larvae of the carrot fly: they dig tunnels in the roots, deforming them, the leaves become wrinkled and sometimes reddish.
Soft rot: it is an alteration that occurs in preserved carrots, the roots become soft and moldy.
Carrot Malvinato: is a fungal disease, like the previous one the roots are covered with a brownish felt, sprinkled with small black bodies, the infection extends from the affected plant to the neighboring ones.
Carrot rot: it is an alteration procured by a bacterium that affects the roots and those that are still in the soil and those stored: the roots become soft watery and rot.
Approaches and partnerships
Typical carrot diseases can be avoided by applying a rigorous soil rotation. It is always good to wait at least three years before inserting them again in the same plot.
There are many crops that can precede: garlic, cereals, leeks, onions or vegetables that need heavy fertilizers.
In the vicinity of the carrots, garlic, dill, onion, beet and beetroot, chicory, lettuce, pea, leek, tomato, radish and shallot grow very well.
The carrot-leek association is recommended to prevent attacks of leek worm and carrot fly.
Pests and diseases
The most frightening pest of this crop is undoubtedly the carrot fly. The eggs are laid at the collar. When the larvae develop they begin to dig tunnels inside the root making them unusable for consumption (because they rot quickly). An unmistakable sign of the infection has been the appearance of yellow-reddish leaves on the foliage. You can defend yourself thanks to good intercropping like the one with leek, onion and garlic. It is also possible, however, to use specific insecticides, respecting the waiting times scrupulously.
Alternariosis is also quite common: the symptoms are the appearance of black spots and rots near the collar.
The scleortinia instead causes whitish rough spots and then black dots.
Both are prevented with the correct crop alternation and possibly with specific treatments.
Variety of carrots
Originally the carrots were red-purple, or white-yellow (still grown today as forage). Their taste was not very sweet and the central part was woody and very hard.
However, the varieties on the market today are much more tender and sweeter. The characteristic orange flesh, due to carotenoid crystals, was selected in the Netherlands in the 1600s. However, many different colors and various shapes are available.
We can mainly distinguish short varieties (which are subdivided in turn into round and conical ones), half-long varieties (subdivided into cylindrical and conical) and long ones (cylindrical and conical).
We report some of the most famous: the Flakee, the S. Valery, the Tonda of Paris, the Nantese. We always inform ourselves about their periodicity, that is, for which period of the year they are most suitable.
Carrots are distinguished according to the color and shape of the root.
From the horticultural point of view the most important varieties are the red ones, meaning with this term all those that produce red or orange roots. As for the shape, they are divided into courts, bricks and long. Another very important feature is the age of maturation, according to which the varieties are distinguished in early medium or late.
Among the varieties we recall:
the mid-early nantese, the hybrid nandor, the nantese early middle clodia, the very early paris tonda, the s. worth late, flakkee, early. Among the varieties with short roots they remind you of red Parisian to force, grelot, red of holland ", all precocious.
Among the bricks, we can mention: half long of name, early; half-length of touchor, very early amsterdam mizzen, red chantenay mizzen; red mezzana of italy derived from the half-long name. to the group of varieties with long roots belong, among others, long red of naples, long of st. Valery, common of Naples, all with orange roots.
Carrot: Nutritional aspects of carrots
The carrot is rich in vitamins, especially A, B, PP, D and E. To help maximize the absorption of these nutrients, it is always good to chop them finely, cook them and dress them with oil.
It is indicated for those on a diet, given its limited caloric intake (41 kcal per 100 g) and is also a good source of fiber.
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