This vegetable has a reputation for providing great vision and a long life. During World War II the British disguised the fact they were employing radar to shoot down German bombers by saying their pilots possessed superior night vision by eating carrots. Industrialist Henry Ford loved carrots almost as much as cars believing they extended your life. He once presided over a 12-course meal featuring carrot soup, mousse, salad, pickled carrots, carrots au gratin, carrot loaf and carrot ice cream all washed down with carrot juice.
Carrots are one of our most common vegetables, and the varieties now available harken back to its roots in Central Asia. The original carrot is actually a scrawny red or purple colored root. It was only after Dutch breeding in the 16th century that the orange carrot we now know became so popular. Now we have many orange varieties for many uses such as the silver dollar sized 'Thumbelina', pest resistant 'Fly Away' and high betacarotene 'Healthmaster'. Plus, there are newer versions of the purple, red, yellow and white varieties, too. I find the purple and red varieties are tastier cooked than eaten raw.
To grow carrots, prepare a raised bed amended with a little compost and sow the small seeds in rows or broadcast across the top of the bed. You might consider using pelleted seed or a seed tape for proper spacing. Cover the seed lightly with potting soil and keep well watered. Mix some radish seed in with the carrots. The radishes will germinate fast breaking up the soil and making it easier for carrots to grow. Thin carrots after germination to 2 inches apart and again in 3 weeks to 4 inches apart. Use the thinned tops and roots in salads. Plant successive crops all summer for a continuous crop right into winter.
And now for this week's tip, spray horticultural oil on fruit tree trunks and branches now to smoother overwintering insects and eggs. Spray on a calm day with temperatures above 40F.
Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about the shrub fothergilla. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.
Broadcast on Friday, April 18, 2014 at 5:57 p.m. and Sunday, April 20, 2014 at 9:35 a.m.