Carrots (scientific name Daucus carota) are biennial plants of the family Umbelliferae, mainly grown for their dark-colored root vegetable produced in the first growing season. In the second growing season, they bloom with a spreading, umbrella-like inflorescence, which is a characteristic feature of the family.
Carrots are a rich source of carotene, sugar, calcium, and fiber. They can be consumed in both, raw and cooked form, but the raw version is most commonly preferred. Commercially, many species varying in shape and color are grown all over the world. Some of the commonly planted varieties are chantenay, baby, small and round, danvers, imperator, and nantes.
Once you decide the plantation site, plow the soil to at least a 12-inch depth. Check the acidity of the soil to ensure that it is not highly acidic. Soil below 5.8 pH may affect the root formation.
Another important factor for growing carrots is the nitrogen content of the soil. If possible, measure the nitrogen level with a soil tester. A regular monitoring of nitrogen is advisable, as too much nitrogen often induces the formation of multiple roots.
Carrot Plantation and After Care
After the soil is loosened and supplemented with compost, sow carrot seeds of your choice, ¼ inch deep in the ground, leaving about 14 - 18 inches space between two rows. For rapid germination, you can soak the carrot seeds in water for about six hours before sowing. Depending upon the surrounding conditions, carrot seeds may germinate within 10 - 14 days.
When the seedlings grow to about an inch's height, you can thin them by creating a space of 3 - 4 inches between two consecutive seedlings. While getting rid of crowded seedlings, make sure that you gently pull off the roots, so that the neighboring plants are not disturbed. Sprinkle the younger plants with water to avoid water logging.
At this stage, you can supplement the soil with the organic fertilizers. If the temperature is very high, the young seedlings should be protected by providing partial shade conditions. Within the first few weeks, it is necessary to control weed by cultivating with a garden knife. An effective method of controlling weeds is to mulch the soil.