The carrot belongs to the family of Apiaceae and, like all these, it is characterized by finely carved leaves. The root, which we feed on, is actually an enlarged central taproot, the length of which can range 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 colour is orange, but in ancient times it was available on the market in a wide range of colours: from white to yellow, from red to deep purple.
It is a herbaceous plant with a two-year cycle . The second year develops an erect stem and numerous white umbrella-like inflorescences.
It is native to the Eurasian continent and Africa. Even today it can be found spontaneously, especially where the soil is poor, dry and gravelly.
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The carrot is a species suitable for temperate climates. It is therefore cultivated with good results, throughout Italy.
The carrot is very adaptable in this respect. The best results are obtained, however, in areas characterized by temperate and humid climate with temperatures that remain as stable as possible. In fact, sudden temperature changes are the cause of interruption of growth.
The growth and colouring of the taproot is influenced both by the climate and by the hours of daylight available. Cold (between 10 and 15 °C) or hot (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 seed-bearing capacity of the seedling and the lack of roots suitable for consumption.
LA CAROTA IN BREVE
Type of vegetation
Annual or biennial herbaceous plants
Height at maturity
From 30 to 60 cm
Germination: days- minimum temperature
13/ 5 °C
Resistance to cold
Sandy, light, deep
Neutral or subalkaline
Distance between rows
Distance in the row
The carrot is not particularly demanding in this respect. The only indispensable cure is a frequent hoeing to eliminate the onset of pests whose roots could compete 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 aspects to be taken into account for a proper cultivation of carrots. Soil, irrigation, fertilization and pest control will be the main aspects on which to focus our attention and efforts.
The ideal soils are those loose, medium texture, sandy or calcareous – clayey, rich in organic matter and free from water stagnation . We do not recommend stony soils to avoid radical bifurcations.
Approximation: 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. It should not be grown after the vegetable beet, as it may be affected by root rot, caused by pests that often attack that species.
To obtain well-developed taproots, it is necessary to have a deep, light and well-milled soil. Only in these conditions in fact the growth is regular, without encountering obstacles, and the shape is consequently that of the classic elongated cone.
It generally prefers calcareous, fertile and slightly basic substrates. They must also be able to keep slightly moist, but still with an excellent drainage.
It is therefore important to work the area in time, eating at a depth of at least 30-40 cm, carefully crumbling the clods. In case of excessive compactness, it is best to mix abundant compost or seasoned organic soil improver with a good quantity of sand.
This root vegetable can be grown throughout the year, especially if you have a greenhouse.
Sowing can begin as early as autumn, continuing until February, in a hot greenhouse. In this period the harvest will then take place after about three months.
In Centre-South at the end of winter, it can already be sown 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 Centre-North open field sowing can be carried out in March-April or from August to October. During these months, optimal temperatures are generally guaranteed. As winter approaches, however, it is advisable to cover the crop with plenty of mulch to prevent the alternation of frost and hot bare young plants.
Sowing can be done by weeding, but it is not very advisable, as it does not allow for easy weeding and weeding, or in rows at a depth of one or two millimetres. When seeding in rows, the distance between 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 harvested in August; the semiprecious ones 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 in stages every 15-25 days, in this way it is possible to obtain roots at different times and consequently it will be possible to have fresh carrots for a long period of time.
Tanning: can be grown with radish, spinach, pea and lettuce;
Sowing can take place in boxes, in honeycomb trays or in the open field (in rows or in the field).
In the latter case it will be necessary to intervene after germination to carry out the thinning, possibly with moist soil so as not to damage the plants in the vicinity.
The ideal distance, even when transferring seedlings, is 20 cm between rows and 5-6 cm on the row.
IL CALENDARIO DELLA CAROTA
Waiting before harvesting
About 100 days
Outdoor sowing February-March
About 120-140 days
About 180 days
Carrots are harvested on a step-by-step basis, depending on the sowing period. Carrots are harvested by grubbing-up. The roots present in the soil during the autumn period must be harvested when it starts to rain, otherwise they can rot.
After harvesting, the carrots are dried in a ventilated room, then cleaned of the soil and stored in an environment where the temperature does not drop below zero, in crates, or stratified in sand.
If we want small carrots, we will have to collect them shortly after thinning.
Carrots grown in winter take 80 to 100 days to be ready. Carrots sown in spring take 120 to 140 days. The summer crop is ready towards autumn, in no less than 180 days, but produces roots that can be preserved for most of the winter.
Harvesting is done with the help of a pitchfork, lifting the entire root ball and freeing the roots by pulling the foliage.
If we want to store carrots for cold periods, it is best to leave them in the sun for at least half a day, so that they lose their humidity and there is no risk of the onset of mould.
To keep them for a long time we can prepare boxes filled with dry sand. Let’s place the carrots inside them, avoiding that they touch each other. Let’s place them in a cool, ventilated place, sheltered from frost and excessive humidity.
Watering should be light and regular. The substrate must never dry out completely, but water stagnation must also be avoided. It is extremely important to supply water at room temperature: if it is too cold, cracks can occur.
The carrot requires a soil rich in humus and well aerated. At the same time, however, it is very sensitive to excess nitrogen, which could encourage the onset of cryptogams and the attack of numerous phytophagous insects.
The advice is to distribute plenty of seasoned manure at the time when you start the previous crop. In this way you will have plenty of 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 feeding, the area is poor or unsuitable, we can still incorporate a maximum of 300 quintals per hectare of manure, but very well seasoned.
Adversity to cultivation
Fertilization: during the preparation of the soil, no manure should be administered, but the manure from the previous year should be used. If you want to use inorganic fertilizers, instead, distribute 50-60 g/sqm of a suitable ternary complex mineral fertilizer.
When the plants are developing, 20 g/sqm of calcium nitrate is administered.
Crop care: the soil must always be kept free from weeds, by making repeated weeding and weeding.
Irrigation: in periods when it does not rain, it is necessary to water abundantly but avoid water stagnation.
Adversity: carrot aphid: attacks the leaves, which do not develop and have discoloured 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.
Malvinated carrot: it is a disease of fungal origin, as the previous one the roots are covered with a brownish felt, sprinkled with small black bodies, the infection extends from the affected plant to those nearby.
Carrot rottenness: it is an alteration caused by a bacterium that affects both the roots still in the soil and the stored ones: the roots become soft and watery rotten.
Approximations and associations
Typical carrot diseases can be avoided by applying strict soil rotation. It is always a good idea to wait at least three years before putting them back on the same plot.
There are many crops that can precede: garlic, cereals, leeks, onions or vegetables that require heavy fertilization.
In the vicinity of carrots grow very well garlic, dill, onion, chard and beets, chicory, lettuce, pea, leek, tomato, radish, shallot.
The association carrot-porro is recommended to prevent attacks of the leek worm and carrot fly.
Pests and diseases
The most fearsome parasite 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 is the appearance of reddish-yellow leaves on the foliage. You can defend yourself thanks to good associations such as the one with leeks, onions and garlic.
However, it is also possible to use specific insecticides, then scrupulously respecting the times of deficiency.
Alternariasis is also quite frequent: symptoms are the appearance of black spots and rottenness near the collar.
Scleortinia, on the other hand, causes rough whitish spots and then black dots.
Both are prevented by correct crop rotation and, if necessary, by specific treatments.
Variety of carrots
Originally, the carrots were red-purple or white-yellow (still grown today as fodder). Their taste was not very sweet and the central part was woody and very hard.
The varieties on the market today are much more tender and sweet. The characteristic orange flesh, due to carotenoid crystals, was selected in Holland in 1600. However, there are many different colors and shapes available.
The main varieties to be distinguished are the short varieties (which in turn are divided into round and conical), the long varieties (cylindrical and conical) and the long varieties (cylindrical and conical).
Some of the most famous are: the Flakee, the S. Valery, the Tonda of Paris, the Nantese. Let’s always ask ourselves about their periodicity, that is for which period of the year they are most suitable.
Carrots are distinguished by the colour and shape of the root.
From a horticultural point of view, the most important varieties are red, meaning all those that produce red or orange roots. As for the shape, they are divided into short, medium and long. Another very important character is the ripening period, according to which the varieties are distinguished in early medium or late.
Among the varieties we remember:
the nantese medium early, the hybrid nandor, the nantese clodia medium early, the round of paris very early, the s. worth late, the flakkee, early. Among the short-rooted varieties remind you of Parisian red to force, grelot, red d’olanda “, all early.
Among the mizzens, we can mention: half long nantes, early; half long touchor, red amsterdam mizzen very early, red chantenay mizzen; red d’italia mizzen derived from the half long nantes. to the group of varieties with long roots belong, among others red long naples, long st. Valery, common naples, all orange-rooted.
Carrot: Nutritional aspects of carrots
Carrots are rich in vitamins, especially A, B, PP D and E. To maximize the absorption of these nutrients, it is always good to finely chop, cook and season with oil.
It is indicated for those on a diet, given its limited calorie intake (41 kcal per 100 g) and is also a good source of fiber.
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