Crazy for Carrots

An urban legend says eating large amounts of carrots will allow a person to see in the dark. It is said that this legend comes from stories of British gunners in World War II, who were able to shoot down German planes during night time air raids. During the Battle of Britain the Royal Air Force spread a story about their pilots' carrot consumption in an attempt to prevent the Germans from discovering the effective use of radar technology by Great Britain in engaging enemy planes. While it is true that a lack of vitamin A can cause poor vision and carrots are a great source of vitamin A, I’m crazy for carrots because they taste great and they are easy to grow.

The key to growing carrots successfully is your soil. Since a Carrot is a root vegetable meaning it principally grows underground, it makes sense that good soil preparation would be critical to growing great Carrots.  The first step is to loosen your soil with a spade or pitchfork to a depth of at least 10 inches. You should be sure to break up any clumps of soil and to avoid growing deformed carrots remove as many stones and pebbles as you see. You may also want to add compost which is organic matter that has decomposed and becomes an excellent natural fertilizer and improver of soil.

Carrots grow best in full sun but tolerate some shade. The seed is very fine and mixing it with sand can assist you in making planting it easier. You can dig a row in the soil about ¾ inch deep and after planting the seed in the row cover the seed with soil and then gently water in the seed. It is important to keep the soil from drying out to ensure that the seed properly germinates.  One thing you can do to accomplish this is to put clear plastic over the planted row until the seed germinates. The plastic keeps the soil moist and warm and you would remove the plastic as soon as you see that the seed has sprouted. If you would like your garden to produce carrots all season long than follow these instructions and plant a new row every two weeks from mid-February through July depending upon what region of the country you live in. Carrots take around four months to mature.

Once the seed germinates and the plants grow you will have to do something known as thinning out the seedlings. This means pulling growing plants and leaving space between the seedlings of about 3 inches. One tip I have read about that may make this task easier is to plant carrot and radish seeds together. The reasoning is that radish seeds sprout very quickly in comparison to carrot seeds which can take up to 3 weeks to germinate. The radishes will be ready to harvest at just about the time that you would need to thin the carrot seedlings. Pulling the radishes will also thin the carrots at the same time. So now that you know an interesting story about how carrots became so associated with good eyesight as well as how to actually grow them from seed why not go and plant some today!

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