How To Grow Carrots
Carrots.—To grow them to perfection carrots require a deep, rich, sandy soil, which has been thoroughly trenched and manured the previous autumn. For the main crop the seed should be sown in March, either broadcast or in rows 18 in. apart. A calm day must be chosen for sowing, as the seed is very light and liable to be blown about. It has also a tendency to hang together, to obviate which it is generally rubbed into some light soil or sand previously to being scattered. Thin out to a distance of from 4 to 7 in., according to the kind grown. For early use the French Horn may be sown on a hotbed in January and February. Keep the surface of the ground well open with the hoe.
Carrots are of two general kinds: those with long roots, and those with short roots. If long-rooted varieties are chosen, then the soil must be worked down to a depth of eighteen inches, surely. The shorter ones will do well in eight inches of well-worked sandy soil. Do not put carrot seed into freshly manured land. Another point in carrot culture is one concerning the thinning process.
_Carrot:_--Carrots also like a soil that is rather on the sandy side, and on account of the depth to which the roots go, it should be deep and fine. The quality will be better if the soil is not too rich. A few for extra early use may be grown in the hotbeds or frame. If radishes and carrots are sown together, in alternating rows six inches apart, the former will be used by the time the carrots need the room, and in this way a single 3 x 6 ft. sash will yield a good supply for the home garden. Use Chantenay or Ox-Heart (see Chapter XII) for this purpose.
The late crop is sometimes sown between rows of onions, skipping every third row, during June, and left to mature when the onions are harvested; but unless the ground is exceptionally free from weeds, the plan is not likely to prove successful.
The Carrot, in its cultivated state, is a half-hardy biennial. It is indigenous to some parts of Great Britain, generally growing in chalky or sandy soil, and to some extent has become naturalized in this country; being found in gravelly pastures and mowing fields, and occasionally by roadsides, in loose places, where the surface has been disturbed or removed. In its native state, the root is small, slender, and fibrous, or woody, of no value, and even of questionable properties as an article of food.
Soil, Sowing, and Culture.—The Carrot flourishes best in a good, light, well-enriched loam. Where there is a choice of situations, heavy and wet soils should be avoided; and, where extremes are alternatives, preference should be given to the light and dry. If possible, the ground should be stirred to the depth of twelve or fifteen inches, incorporating a liberal application of well-digested compost, and well pulverizing the soil in the operation. The surface should next be levelled, cleared as much as possible of stones and hard lumps of earth, and made mellow and friable; in which state, if the ground contains sufficient moisture to color the surface when it is stirred, it will be ready for the seed. This may be sown from the first of April to the 20th of May; but early sowings succeed best. The drills should be made an inch in depth; and for the smaller, garden varieties, about ten inches apart. The larger sorts are grown in drills about fourteen inches apart; the plants in the rows being thinned to five or six inches asunder.
Harvesting.—The roots attain their full size by the autumn of the first year; and, as they are not perfectly hardy, should be dug and housed before the ground is frozen. When large quantities are raised for stock, they are generally placed in bulk in the cellar, without packing; but the finer sorts, when intended for the table, are usually packed in earth or sand, in order to retain their freshness and flavor. With ordinary precaution, they will remain sound and fresh until May or June.
Seed.—To raise seed, select good-sized, smooth, and symmetrical roots; and as early in spring as the frost is out of the ground, and the weather settled, transplant to rows three feet apart, and fifteen inches apart in the rows, sinking the crowns just below a level with the surface of the ground. The seed-stalks are from four to six feet in height, with numerous branches. The flowers appear in June and July; are white; and are produced at the extremities of the branches, in umbels, or flat, circular groups or clusters, from two to five inches in diameter. The seed ripens in August; but, as all the heads do not ripen at once, they should be cut off as they successively mature. The stiff, pointed hairs or bristles with which the seeds are thickly covered, and which cause them to adhere together, should be removed either by threshing or by rubbing between the hands; clearing them more or less perfectly, according to the manner of sowing. If sown by a machine, the seeds should not only be free from broken fragments of the stems of the plant, but the surface should be made as smooth as possible. For hand-sowing, the condition of the seed is less essential; though, when clean, it can be distributed in the drill more evenly and with greater facility.
The seeds of the several varieties differ little in size, form, or color, and are not generally distinguishable from each other. They will keep well two years; and if preserved from dampness, and placed in a cool situation, a large percentage will vegetate when three years old.
In the vegetable garden, an ounce of seed is allowed for one hundred and fifty feet of drill; and, for field culture, about two pounds for an acre.
An ounce contains twenty-four thousand seeds.
Use.—Though not relished by all palates, carrots are extensively employed for culinary purposes, and are generally considered healthful and nutritious. They form an important ingredient in soups, stews, and French dishes of various descriptions; and by many are much esteemed, when simply boiled, and served with meats or fish.
"Carrots may be given to every species of stock, and form in all cases a palatable and nourishing food. They are usually given in their raw state, though they may be steamed or boiled in the same manner as other roots.
"Horses and dairy-cows are the live-stock to which they are most frequently given. They are found in an eminent degree to give color and flavor to butter; and, when this is the end desired, no species of green-feeding is better suited to the dairy. To horses they may be given with cut straw and hay; and, thus given, form a food which will sustain them on hard work.
They afford excellent feeding for swine, and quickly fatten them. When boiled, they will be eaten by poultry; and, mixed with any farinaceous substance, form an excellent food for them. They are also used for distillation, affording a good spirit."
Varieties of Carrot
Altringham. Long Red Altringham. Vil.
The Altrincham Carrot measures about fourteen inches in length, by two inches in diameter. It retains its thickness for nearly two-thirds its length: but the surface is seldom regular or smooth; the genuine variety being generally characterized by numerous crosswise elevations, and corresponding depressions. Neck small and conical, rising one or two inches above the surface of the soil. Skin nearly bright-red; the root having a semi-transparent appearance. Flesh bright and lively, crisp and breaking in its texture; and the heart, in proportion to the size of the root, is smaller than that of the Long Orange. Leaves long, but not large or very numerous.
According to Lawson, it is easily distinguished from the Long Orange by the roots growing more above ground, by its more convex or rounded shoulders, and by its tapering more irregularly, and terminating more abruptly. It is, however, exceedingly difficult to procure the variety in its purity, as it is remarkably liable to sport, although the roots grown for seed be selected with the greatest care.
It is a good field-carrot, but less productive than the Long Orange and some others; mild and well flavored for the table, and one of the best sorts for cultivation for market.
Thompson states that "it derives its name from a place called Altrincham, in Cheshire, Eng., where it is supposed to have originated. In seedsmen's lists it is frequently, but erroneously, called the Altringham."
Early Forcing Horn. Earliest Short Forcing Horn. Early Short Scarlet.
Root grooved or furrowed at the crown, roundish, or somewhat globular; rather more than two inches in diameter, nearly the same in depth, and tapering suddenly to a very slender tap-root. Skin red, or reddish-orange; brown or greenish where it comes to the surface of the ground. Foliage small and finely cut or divided, not so large or luxuriant as that of the Early Horn.
The Early Frame is the earliest of all varieties, and is especially adapted for cultivation under glass, both on account of its earliness, and the shortness and small size of its roots. It is also one of the best sorts for the table, being very delicate, fine-grained, mild, and remarkably well flavored.
Where space is limited, it may be grown in rows six inches apart, thinned to three inches apart in the rows; or sown broadcast, and the young plants thinned to three inches apart in each direction.
Early Half-Long Scarlet.
Half-long Red. Vil.
Root slender and tapering, measuring seven or eight inches in length, and two inches in its greatest diameter. Crown hollow. Skin red below the surface of the ground, green or brown above. Flesh reddish-orange, fine-grained, mild, and well flavored. Foliage similar to that of the Early Frame, but not abundant.
The variety is remarkably productive; in good soil and favorable seasons, often yielding an amount per acre approaching that of the Long Orange. Season intermediate between the early garden and late field sorts.
Early Scarlet Horn. Early Short Dutch. Dutch Horn.
Root six inches in length, two inches and a half in diameter, nearly cylindrical, and tapering abruptly to a very slender tap-root. Skin orange-red, but green or brown where it comes to the surface of the ground. Flesh deep orange-yellow, fine-grained, and of superior flavor and delicacy. The crown of the root is hollow, and the foliage short and small.
The variety is very early, and as a table-carrot much esteemed, both on account of the smallness of its heart and the tenderness of its fibre. As the roots are very short, it is well adapted for shallow soils; and on poor, thin land will often yield a greater product per acre than the Long Orange or the White Belgian, when sown under like circumstances.
Sow in rows one foot apart, and thin to four inches in the rows.
Flander's Large Pale Scarlet. Vil.
Flander's Pale Red.
Root produced within the earth, fourteen or fifteen inches long, three or four inches in diameter at the broadest part, fusiform, not very symmetrical, but often quite crooked and angular. The crown is flat, very large, and nearly covered by the insertion of the leaves. Flesh reddish-yellow, and rather coarse-grained. Foliage large and vigorous.
The roots are formed early and with great certainty. It is also very productive, of large size, keeps remarkably well; and, though of coarse texture, one of the best sorts for cultivation for farm-purposes.
It originated in Flanders, and is comparatively an old variety, but is little disseminated, and not grown to any extent, in this country.
Root long, thickest at or near the crown, and tapering regularly to a point. Size very variable, being much affected by soil, season, and cultivation: well-grown specimens measure fifteen inches in length, and three inches in diameter at the crown. Skin smooth, of a reddish-orange color. Flesh comparatively close-grained, succulent, and tender, of a light-reddish vermilion or orange color, the heart lighter, and large in proportion to the size of the root. Foliage not abundant, but healthy and vigorous, and collected into a comparatively small neck. The roots are usually produced entirely within the earth.
If pulled while very young and small, they are mild, fine-grained, and good for table use; but, when full grown, the texture is coarser, and the flavor stronger and less agreeable.
The Long Orange is more cultivated in this country for agricultural purposes than all other varieties. With respect to its value for stock, its great productiveness, and its keeping properties, it is considered the best of all the sorts for field culture. A well-enriched soil will yield from six hundred to eight hundred bushels per acre. The seed is usually sown in drills, about fourteen inches apart, but sometimes on ridges, eighteen or twenty inches apart, formed by turning two furrows together; the ridges yielding the largest roots, and the drills the greatest quantity.
Two pounds of seed are usually allowed to an acre; but, if sown by a well-regulated machine, about one-half this quantity will be sufficient.
Long Red Belgian.
Yellow Belgian. Yellow Green-top Belgian.
Root very long, fusiform, contracted a little towards the crown, but nearly of uniform thickness from the top down half the length. Size large; when grown in deep soil, often measuring twenty inches in length, and nearly three inches in diameter. The crown rises four or five inches above the surface of the ground, and is of a green color; below the surface, the skin is reddish-yellow. Flesh orange-red.
This variety, like the White, originated in Belgium. In Europe it is much esteemed by agriculturists, and is preferred to the White Belgian, as it is not only nearly as productive, but has none of its defects.
Root fusiform, three inches in diameter at the crown, and from, twelve to fourteen inches in depth. Skin pale yellow, or lemon-color, under ground; but greenish on the top, or crown, which rises a little above the surface of the soil. Flesh yellow, the heart paler, and, like that of the Long Orange, of large size. While young, the roots are delicate, mild, and well flavored; but, when full grown, valuable only for stock.
The Long Lemon is easily harvested, and is very productive, yielding nearly the same quantity to the acre as the Long Orange; which variety it much resembles in its general character, and with which it is frequently, to a greater or less extent, intermixed.
Long Red. James's Scarlet.
This variety much resembles the Long Orange: the roots, however, are more slender, the heart is smaller, and the color deeper.
"It is popular in some parts of England, and is extensively grown over the Continent."
Root produced entirely below ground, regularly fusiform, fifteen inches long, by about three inches in its largest diameter. Skin white, stained with russet-brown. Flesh white, and generally considered sweeter than that of the colored varieties.
The Common White has been but little cultivated since the introduction of the White Belgian; a variety much more productive, though perhaps not superior either in flavor, or fineness of texture.
An English variety, comparatively of recent introduction. Root broadest at the crown, and thence tapering very regularly to a point. Size full medium; well-grown specimens measuring nearly three inches in diameter at the broadest part, and about one foot in length. Skin bright orange-red. Flesh orange-yellow, fine-grained, sweet, well flavored, and, while young, excellent for table use.
Very hardy, and also very productive; yielding, according to the best English authority, a greater weight per acre than any other yellow-fleshed variety.
Purple or Blood Red.
Root fusiform, and very slender, fourteen inches in length, by two inches and a half in diameter at the top or broadest part. Skin deep purple, varying to some extent in depth of shade, but generally very dark. Flesh purple at the outer part of the root, and yellow at the centre or heart; fine grained, sugary, and comparatively well flavored.
Not much cultivated for the table, on account of the brown color it imparts to soups or other dishes of which it may be an ingredient. It is also inclined to run to seed the year it is sown. It has, however, the reputation of flourishing better in wet, heavy soil, than any other variety.
Blanche des Vosges. Vil.
Root obtusely conical, seven or eight inches long, by about four inches in diameter at the crown, which is large, flat, greenish, and level with the surface of the ground. Skin white, tinted with amber, smooth and fine. Flesh yellowish-white, remarkably solid, and fine in texture; sweet and well flavored. Foliage rather finely divided, and as vigorous as the Long Orange.
The Short White yields well, retains its qualities during winter, and is well adapted for cultivation in soils that are hard and shallow.
Long Red Brunswick.
Root fusiform, very long, and regular; the crown level with the surface of the soil. In good cultivation, the roots attain a length of sixteen inches, and a diameter of nearly two inches. Color bright reddish-orange, like the Altrincham.
An excellent table-carrot, but flourishes well only in deep, mellow soil.
Root very long, fusiform, eighteen to twenty inches in length, and four or five inches in diameter. In the genuine variety, the crown rises five or six inches from the surface of the ground; and, with the exception of a slight contraction towards the top, the full diameter is retained for nearly one-half of the entire length. Skin green above, white below ground. Flesh white, tending to citron-yellow at the centre or heart of the root; somewhat coarse in texture. Foliage rather large and vigorous.
The White Belgian Carrot is remarkable for its productiveness, surpassing in this respect all other varieties, and exceeding that of the Long Orange by nearly one-fourth. It can be harvested with great facility, and gives a good return even on poor soils.
The variety is not considered of any value as a table esculent, and is grown almost exclusively for feeding stock; for which purpose, it is, however, esteemed less valuable than the yellow-fleshed sorts, because less nutritious, and more liable to decay during winter.
Since its introduction, it has somewhat deteriorated; and, as now grown, differs to some extent from the description given above. The roots are smaller, seldom rise more than two or three inches above the soil, and taper directly from the crown to the point. A judicious selection of roots for seed, continued for a few seasons, would undoubtedly restore the variety to its primitive form and dimensions.
The same amount of seed will be required as of the Long Orange: and the general method of culture should be the same; with the exception, that, in thinning out the plants, the White Belgian should have more space.
White Belgian Horn.
Transparent White. Vil.
Root seven or eight inches in length, and two inches in its greatest diameter, tapering regularly from the crown to the point. Skin fine, clear white. Flesh very white, and almost transparent, mild, tender, and delicate.
A French variety, remarkable for the peculiar, pure white color of its skin and flesh.