ABOUT THE PLANT
Description: Red carrots have a deep red or burnt orange color which comes from having the pigment lycopene. They are crisp and sweeter than orange carrots. They typically reach a length of 8 inches. Ready to harvest in about 75 days.
Origin: Originated in what is now Afghanistan
Usage: Red carrots are eaten raw as a snack, in salads, and can be juiced. They are great roasted, boiled, baked, or steamed. Their red color adds interest and appeal to dishes. Extracts of red carrots are used as safe and natural dyes in the food and cosmetic industries.
Interesting facts: Besides having all the benefits of orange carrots, red carrots have lycopene, a red pigment and antioxidant having additional beneficial health effects.
HOW TO GROW
General requirements: Red carrots are long and straight and for this reason, they need to be grown in a deep, loose, sandy loam soil enriched with compost or rotted manure. Otherwise, the roots will be deformed if they are struggling through heavy rocky soil. A soil pH of 6 to 7 is ideal. Keep the soil uniformly moist, but not soggy. Carrots are not drought tolerant. Have your garden and/or containers where they will be in full sun for at least 6 hours a day. Add mulch to the top layer of soil to help regulate temperature, retain moisture, and deter weeds. The ideal temperature for carrots is between 60- and 70°F.
In the garden: Make a row as a raised mound about 8” wide and a few inches high. Sow the seeds 1-2 weeks before the last frost about 1/8” deep and 1 inch apart. Cover lightly. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Sow more seeds every 3-4 weeks for a consistent harvest. Warmer climates may be limited by sowing fall crops as carrots cannot tolerate excessive heat. When seedlings are 2″ tall, carefully thin them 2-3" apart. To thin, snip the unwanted plants with scissors rather than pulling as the carrots remaining do not want their roots disturbed. About 5-6 weeks after sowing, apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer and add more mulch to the top layer of soil to help regulate temperature, retain moisture, and deter weeds. Germination will take 10-21 days.
In containers: Direct seed into a container at least 10 inches deep and wide any time of the year. Use potting soil with perlite added to obtain looser soil. While indoors, place in a sunny window. Move it outside when the temperature is between 50°F-75°F. About 5-6 weeks after sowing, apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer and add mulch to the top layer of soil to help regulate temperature and retain moisture.
Transplanting: Transplanting is not recommended as carrots do not tolerate their roots being disturbed. If they survive, they will be malformed.
Roots: Carrots may be dug any time after they have reached their desired size. Before harvesting, soak the ground to make the carrots easier to pull, or use a garden fork to dig them up.
Tops: Harvest the tops when you pull the carrots. They should be bright green and dense, and about 8 to 10 inches long.
Seeds: Carrots are biennial, meaning they flower in the 2nd year. So, it is a 2-year process. Overwinter at least 5 plants in the garden, but you will need at least 10-12 weeks of temperatures that are consistently below 59°F. The following spring, fresh growth will sprout from the tops of your carrots, and a flower stalk will develop in 4-6 weeks. An umbrella-shaped cluster will form covered with tiny blooms with the added benefit of attracting beneficial pollinators. By summer, these umbels dry out and turn brown. To harvest the seeds, cut the dry umbels with scissors and allow them to dry further in a bowl or tray in a well-ventilated area. When dry and brittle, rub them between your fingers to loosen the seeds from the flower head. Separate the seeds from the chaff by picking through the pile. Store them in paper envelopes or any small container in a cool dark place.
Common name: Red carrot
Latin name: Daucus carota var. sativus
Life cycle: Biennial, but grown as an annual
USDA Zones: 3-12
Seeds per ounce: about 21,000