What’s up, doc? Carrots are wonderful root veggies that store well and are often still available from local growers throughout the winter months. While we often think of them as orange, carrots come in a wide range of colors, including yellow, purple, pink, and red! They grow well in Michigan, have a wide range of nutritional benefits and are great to cook with: what’s not to love?
How to Grow Carrots
Carrots are grown from seeds. Carrots grow best in loose, deep soils with good drainage. It’s best to plant carrots in soils that do not crust easily, as the small shoots can have trouble breaking through a tough soil crust. Plant carrots close together, then thin them out when the seedlings are one to two inches tall, leaving a couple inches between sprouts. Although it can be tempting to let carrots get big, for the best flavor they should be harvested when they are no more than 1.5 inches in diameter. Depending on when the carrots were planted, harvesting can begin as early as July and continue through October. Fall carrots have the best flavor when pulled after a hard frost!
A fun fact: it might be a good idea to plant radish seeds with your carrots! Carrot sprouts take 2-3 weeks to emerge, while radish seeds emerge more quickly and will help you know where your garden rows are. Radishes also are stronger when they sprout and can help break up any soil crust that might have formed that would prevent carrot sprouts from being able to break through!
Health Benefits of Carrots
The common saying that carrots are good for the eyes is true! They contain carotenoids, an antioxidant pigment that helps decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Carrots are also a fantastic source of vitamin A, which helps your body fight infections. Just half a cup of carrots contains 51% of your daily vitamin A needs. Studies have also shown that eating more carrots leads to lower cholesterol levels, which significantly decreases the risk of heart disease. Carrots can also help reduce the risk of cancer. High circulating carotenoids in the body can help reduce the risk of prostate, colon, stomach and breast cancer.
Cooking with Carrots
There are seemingly endless ways to cook with carrots. Check out some of these warming and delicious recipes:
- Carrot Curry
- Glazed Carrots with Goat Cheese and Honey
- Carrot & Parsnip Soup
- Carrot & Cardamom Pudding
Carrots are easy-growing, delicious, nutritious and diverse vegetables.Their bright colors make them easy to celebrate, especially in the winter! How are you enjoying carrots this winter?
Elizabeth Pearce is TLD’s Operations Assistant and lives in Southeast Michigan. Carrots are one of her favorite vegetables to receive in her summer and fall CSA each week.