From the time we are young, fed by our moms with baby food we seem to despise, until the time that we are old enough to cook for our own and our family, carrot is a staple in the dining table. It is versatile as it can be integrated in many dishes in more ways than one. To add, it is also a potent source of different vitamins and minerals that will be essential for a healthy body.
In the rest of this post, we will discuss all the things that you need to know about this vegetable. This sweet and crunchy treat is well-loved by humans and bunnies. But, do you know where exactly they are from? Are you aware that there are different types of carrots? It has a variety of health benefits, but do you know exactly what they can do for the body? How can you grow carrots successfully in the garden? Keep on reading and we’ll let you know more about carrots.
What are Carrots?
This root vegetable is scientifically known as Daucus carota. It is from the family of Umbelliferae, which is known from the umbrella-like flowers that grow on their top. Usually, its length can vary from two inches to three feet, depending on its specific variety. While orange is the most popular color, there are some species that are purple, yellow, orange, and even white.
While you can see carrots being sold all throughout the year, you should know that this is a seasonal crop. They can be planted during early spring and harvested late on the same season. Alternatively, they can also be planted late in the summer and they will be ready for harvest in fall.
Types of Carrots
Whether you are looking for carrot to plant, buy, or simply curious, the following are some of the most common types of carrots that you will find:
- Danvers: This is perhaps the type of carrot that you can often see. It is long, skinny, and cylindrical. This variety is named after the place where it was developed – Danvers, Massachusetts. They grow within 70 to 80 days in spring and 80 to 110 days in fall.
- Imperator: They will typically grow within 55 to 100 days during spring and 80 to 100 days during fall. They are often grown commercially and often found being sold in supermarkets. Their appearance is somewhat similar to Danvers, except that they are thicker. Compared to other types, its sugar content is higher.
- Baby: As the name implies, they are the miniature variety of carrots, which usually do not grow more than 5 inches. They are round, cylindrical and crispy. During spring, they grow within 50 to 60 days. On the other hand, during fall, they will grow within 60 to 70 days.
- Chantenay: Growing this carrot in spring will approximately take 55 to 70 days and 70 to 110 days during fall. Their flavor is usually sweet and they can be stored for a long time. In terms of appearance, they have broad shoulders and conical roots.
- Nantes: It is named after an area in France, specifically from the Atlantic coast, which is ideal for its growth. If you plant it during spring, it grows fully within 55 to 70 days and in fall, 6 to 75 days. It grows fast, but can also spoil quickly.
Health Benefits of Eating Carrots
The popularity of carrots being incorporated in several dishes is not only because of its distinct crunch and flavor, but can also be attributed to the abundance of health benefits that it can deliver:
- Clearer Vision: This is perhaps one thing that we were often told about carrots. It is a rich source of beta carotene. Once it reaches the liver, it will be converted into Vitamin A, which will be essential in the improvement of your vision. It will also be essential in the prevention of macular degeneration to ensure vision clarity even as you age.
- Improved Cardiovascular Health: If you want to have a healthy heart, you might want to increase your intake of carrots. In one study from the Netherlands, which lasted for 10 years, it has been asserted that yellow and orange-colored vegetables are vital for the heart. To be specific, carrots are effective in the reduction of cardiovascular problems.
- Regulates Blood Pressure: Another good thing about carrots is that it is a rich source of potassium, which helps to keep your blood pressure in check. This will be vital in the reduction of the pressure in your arteries, which will also be important in the improvement of blood circulation.
- Improved Digestion: The high amount of dietary fibers in carrot is the one that is responsible for this health benefit. One of the good things about fiber is that it makes the stool bulkier, making it easier to get out of the body. It also prevents constipation and stomach problems.
- Prevention of Cancer: Several studies in the past have also proven that carrots can help to deter the growth of cancer cells, especially those that can cause lung cancer. Also, its richness in fiber makes it an excellent food for the prevention of colon cancer.
- Improves Skin Health: The beta carotene in carrot can help to prevent damage in the cells that can be caused by free radicals. With this, one thing that you can expect would be having more radiant skin that does not show the visible signs of aging.
- Removes Toxins: Eating carrots can also be a good thing because it aids in the flushing of the harmful toxins in the body, especially from your liver. One reason for this is the high concentration of fiber.
- Prevention of Stroke: There are also many studies in the past, including one from Harvard, proving the ability of carrot to lessen the likelihood of suffering from stroke. In fact, it is believed that making carrot a part of your daily diet will make you less susceptible to stroke by as much as 68%.
Growing Carrots in the Garden
Now that you know the different health benefits you can yield from carrots, you are probably interested in having it planted in the garden. For the best outcomes, here are some of the most important things you have to keep in mind:
- One of the most important things is soil preparation. Get rid of any weed, trash, or stone, among others that could deter the healthy growth of carrots. See to it as well that the soil is not too hard so that the root can easily penetrate.
- Similar to other vegetables, regular watering will prove to be crucial. If the carrot is not properly watered, the outcome is that it will taste bitter. However, watering should be done only once the soil has turned dry. Ideally, one inch of water weekly will be enough.
- Proper spacing when planting carrots will be crucial as well. It would be best to plant them one to two feet from each other, which will prevent disruptions as they grow. Thinning carrots as they grow will also be essential to give the plant sufficient space to breathe.
- It is also important to know how you can keep pests away from your plant, specifically carrot fly. Choosing a variety of carrot that will resist these flies will be a good starting point.
- You should also be aware of when is the right time to harvest the vegetable. Ideally, this should be done when they grow about ½ inch in diameter. This can take about two and a half months, depending on the specific variety of carrot that you have.
That’s it my friends! By now, we hope that you know a lot about carrots. It is healthy, delicious, and versatile. It is one fruit that should definitely be part of your diet!