Many health benefits. Great source of antioxidant compounds. Rank among highest carotenoid contents. Help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance, a common cause of diabetes. High vitamin A helps eyes adjust to changing brightness and promotes good night vision. Vitamin A reduces risk of emphysema from exposure to cigarette smoke.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – A, K, C, B6 (Pyridoxine), B1 (Thiamin), B3 (Niacin), B9 (Folate)
Minerals – Potassium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus and Magnesium
One daily serving of carrots or squash cuts in half risk of heart disease among elderly. Beta-carotene from carrots converts to Vitamin A in liver; travels to eye where it helps produce chemicals needed for night vision. Beta-carotene has antioxidant properties that help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. High levels of carotenoids with falcarinol defend against many cancers: postmenopausal breast, bladder, cervix, prostate, larynx, esophagus, colon and lung. Carotenoids in carrots may work only when grouped into biochemical team, since supplementation of only one carotenoid, beta-carotene, is not as effective.
How to Grow
Easy to grow with quality soil. Varieties differ in maturation timing and size. Plant in less dense, finer soil. Need well-aged compost or mature organic matter to grow well. (Fresh manure or compost causes deformed root growth and atypical tastes.) Lacking light soil, grow in raised deep beds. Some smaller types will grow in shallower soil, but larger crop demands deep raised beds or deep sandy loam soil. To create a deep raised bed, dig a trench of desired width and one spade deep. Break up the bottom soil layer to create room for roots to explore. Mix in couple inches of well-aged, disease-free manure, compost or planting mix. Fill trench half way and add another couple inches. Finish by filling the trench with the remainder of the soil dug up. For good measure, throw over the top a few handfuls of planting mix containing alfalfa, fish bone or kelp meal. Needs pH near 6.5; add lime to raise. Sow seeds directly into permanent rows in late winter for warm climates and mid-spring in cooler areas. Place a pinch or about 5-6 seeds per inch of the row. Cover the row with a thin layer of topsoil (roughly ½ inch or slightly more in dry areas). Water softly, but keep seeds moist so they germinate and sprout in 1-3 weeks. When tops reach a few inches high, mulch around plants to help retain moisture. Ready for harvest when big enough to eat. Moisten soil to make it easier to pull out.
Carrots usually problem free. Common pests include carrot fly, parsley worms and nematodes. Biggest threats are gophers, deer, woodchucks and rabbits. If these are large risk, erect large barriers or fences to block entry. Block gophers with underground fence or flood them out of their holes. Interplant with onions to repel carrot flies or cover rows with plastic lining. Crop rotation helps prevent nematode infestation. Plant marigolds year before to remove them from soil.
Crowded carrots interfere with each other and grow deformed. When the sprouts are 2-3 inches high, thin the rows so plants are separated by 1inch. Repeat in several weeks to make them 4 inches apart. Carrots respond well to container planting if you want to grow just a few carrots and avoid effort of creating deeper bed of lighter soil.