This well known and favourable vegetable of many people belongs to the “umbelliferae” family. It is a biennial herb, which flowers the second year.
A native of Afghanistan and other near-east countries, it was grown around the shores of the Mediterranean many years before the Christian era. Used by the Greeks and Romans mostly as a medicine plant, over the years it spread as a wayside plant or weed over much of Europe, where it still grows today as a wild carrot or “Queen Anne’s Lace.”
Then about the 13th century, the people of Germany, Holland, France et al cultivated it and began using it as a vegetable. A French plant breeder, Vilmorin, did much to genetically produce the carrot that we have today. Still it was the Dutch that introduced this vegetable to England and then on to the “New World” America.
Umbellifera family has many important herbs and vegetables in it. As well as the carrot, we have celery, parsnip, parsley, dill, caraway, anise and many more. This family gets its name from the fact that it grows clusters of flowers on each individual stalks called “umbells.”
Carrots like cool to moderate temperatures, and grow well in almost all of the temperate zones of the earth.
The seed requires deep, rich soil, which is loosely packed. The seeds can be difficult to germinate. A good trick is to moisten the drill before sowing, then cover the seed with a light dry soil mix. Cover the seeded row with a light board to retain the moisture.
After 4-5 days check the row for germination. Once carrot seeds dry out, they will fail.
Thin carrots when they are 5cm tall and ensure that you carry the thinning away to avoid attracting the carrot rust fly to your patch.
The intestine absorbs the substance carotene that is in healthy carrots. When taken into the body, it produces “Vitamin A”. Carrots are also rich in sugars and iron.
The best flavors come from the young fast growing varieties: Amsterdam forcing, Belero, Danvers half long, Scarlet Nantes and the long rooted Chantey to name a few.
The carrot only became a common vegetable after the 1920’s on the North American continent.