Carrots, a root vegetable of the Umbelliferae family (which also includes parsley, dill, celery and cilantro), have a very colorful history. Carrots are said to have originated from Asian and Middle Eastern countries, and the first yellow rooted variety, later to be developed into the orange version that we know and love today, was first found in Afghanistan in pre-Hellenic times.
One of the most well loved vegetables, Carrots are hardy biennials that are found in many home vegetable gardens world over. Carrots are about 20 – 50 cm (8 – 30 inches) high when mature and 120 – 150 cm (47 – 60 inches) when flowering. The taproot, or the edible part of the carrot, which grows under the ground, is a fleshy root vegetable, which is usually orange in color (other colors of carrot varieties are - purple, yellow, or white). This root can be 5 – 50 cm (2 – 20 inches) long and around 2 – 5 cm (1 – 2 inches) in diameter around the top. This root is conical to cylindrical in shape and has feathery leaves that emerge above ground.
Carrots are easy to grow and make a wonderful addition to any organic home vegetable garden. They need a warm, sandy soil, and therefore thrive best in raised beds. Carrots should be planted directly into the soil during the spring.
Harvesting can begin when the carrots are about the size of your finger. The entire crop does not need to be harvested all at once; carrots may be left in the soil until needed.
Carrots are rich in antioxidants, and have the highest amount of the pro-vitamin A carotenes of all vegetables. Research has shown that the antioxidant compounds found in carrots help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Carrots are also good for vision, especially night vision. Eating carrots daily is very beneficial to our good health.