This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Daucus Carota, Linn.). Umbelliferae. Garden vegetable, grown for its elongated subterranean crown-tuber.
The carrot is native of Europe and Asia, and one of the bad introduced weeds of eastern North America (Fig. 821). The improved succulent-rooted garden varieties are thought to be descended from the same stock, though this has been denied. It seems probable that the horticultural improvement of the species was begun in Holland, and it is said that the cultivated forms were introduced thence into the gardens of England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The carrot is now very generally, though not extensively, cultivated everywhere, both for culinary purposes and for stock-feeding. It is sometimes forced under glass, but to no great extent. Carrots are most useful in culinary practice for soups, stews, and salads, and as this class of cookery has never been reasonably popular in America, this vegetable has not received the attention it deserves.
Fig. 821. Last year's umbel of wild carrot.
The carrot is hardy and may be planted as soon as the ground is in fit condition to be properly prepared for seeding. When grown as a market-garden or truck crop, this early seeding is essential to maximum returns. The best soil for carrots is a medium to light loam, rich, friable and comparatively free from weeds. As the seed is slow to germinate, it is a good plan to sow some quick-germinating seed with the carrot seed so that the rows may be noticed in time to keep them ahead of weed growth. Lettuce serves well for this purpose. When the carrots are thinned, this lettuce is pulled out. The carrot seed is best sown in rows 12 to 15 inches apart, using enough seed to produce a plant every inch or two along the row. When the carrots are 3 to 5 inches high, they should be thinned to stand 3 inches apart in the row. The only further culture necessary is frequent tillage to conserve soil-mois-and to prevent weed growth. The early crop should be ready to pull and bunch for sale seventy-five days after sowing. Early carrots are an important crop on the market-garden and truck-farm. They are pulled as soon as they have attained sufficient size and tied into bunches of three, six or seven roots, according to the size of the roots and the market demands.
The earlier the crop and the more active the demand, the smaller the roots which may be salable. A later sowing is made for the main or winter crop or for five-stock. This may be from four to six weeks after the first sowing. The crop is handled in the same manner as the early crop except that it is allowed to continue growth as long as the weather is suitable. It is then pulled, the tops cut from the roots and the roots placed in frost-proof storage for winter sale.
The expense of production of carrots is considerable, but the returns are usually satisfactory. The fall crop should yield 500 to 1,000 bushels to the acre. Truck-growers of the South ship many bunched carrots to the large northern markets in March, April and May, where they meet a ready demand at prices ranging from 35 cents to $1 per dozen bunches.
There are several distinct market types of carrots, the variation being chiefly with respect to size and shape. The smaller varieties, as they mature more quickly, are used to some extent for the early bunching, while the larger kinds are always more popular in the general market.
The varieties of carrots differ chiefly in respect to size and grain, with differences in earliness closely correlated. The following are now favorite varieties:
One of the smallest and earliest; root small, almost globular, orange-red.
Small to medium in size; root 2 to 4 inches long, growing to a blunt point, of good quality and popular in some sections for an early bunch carrot.
Large to medium in size; root 3 to 5 inches long, more tapering than Oxheart; of good quality and a better carrot for the bunched crop than the above.
Six to 8 inches long, 2 to 3 inches in diameter, at top tapering to a blunt point; the most popular garden carrot grown.
A long carrot, 8 to 12 inches; tapering to a slender point like a parsnip; grown more for live-stock or exhibition purposes. The Half-Long has largely displaced it as a market sort chiefly because of the greater ease with which the latter strain is harvested.
Top small, roots medium size, cylindrical, pointed; much used for bunching.
Top small, roots half-long, somewhat oval, smooth, fine grain and flavor; a favorite garden sort.
Of much larger size than the above-named varieties, of less delicate flavor and coarser texture; a popular variety for live-stock.
The variation in the different strains of carrot 6eed is marked and it is important to secure seed from carefully selected roots true to shape and color. Carrot seed may be produced in any location in which the crop of roots is grown successfully.
The carrot may be successfully forced under glass and is grown in this way to a limited extent. The small early varieties are used, such as French Forcing, Early Parisian, Early Scarlet Horn and Golden Ball. These will usually be grown as a catch-crop between tomatoes or cucumbers. When grown in this way, the carrot is one of the most delicious of all vegetables, and deserves much wider popularity. See Forcing.
Fig. 822. Garden carrots of the shorthorn type.
The field cultivation of carrots for live-stock differs little from the garden or horticultural treatment except that earliness is not desired, and the longer-rooted later-maturing kinds are mostly used; and less intensive cultivation is employed. See Vol. II, Cyclo. Amer. Agric, P. 540. F. A. Waugh and H. F. Tompson.