The carrot (Daucus carota L., 1753) is a green herbaceous plant belonging to the family of the Apiaceae; is also one of the most common vegetables. It is a spontaneous species that is common in Europe, Asia and North Africa.
From a systematic point of view, the carrot belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, the Kingdom Plantae, the Tracheobionte Subordination, the Spermatophyta Superdivision, the Magnoliophyta Division, the Magnoliopsida Class, the Rosidae Subclass, the Apiales Order, the Apiaceae Family, and then the Genus Daucus and the Carrot Species D.
The name comes from Greek “daycos” and this in turn “daio” = burn, heat, in fact the ancients spoke of Daucus as a heating plant. The specific name is also derived from the Greek “Karotón” which according to some comes from fleshy, while for others by the color of the crocus (saffron).
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Eurasian plant and North African areas; the species is present in almost every area of the world, but with important gaps related to territorial and climatic factors. The carrot is spontaneous in the uninitiated, in the meadows, along the roads, usually in arid environments and develops between 0 and 1,400 m. S.l.m ..
This species, spontaneous, is considered as weed plant and is easily found in sunny places and in hot and stony areas. Carrot is an annual or biennial herb with fleshy (cultivated) herb that in the second year develops an erect and branched stem with deeply divided and varied green leaves that are alternate and jagged. It has large umbrellas with a globular shape consisting of umbrellas. These are in turn formed by small white or rose petals in a five-petal umbrella; the central flower is dark red. The inflorescence has large, yellow-like bratts like the leaves. The stem reaches 40-90 cm.
In the flowers there are small scented glands that attract insects. The inflorescences after the fertilization of the flowers close to the nest of birds. It flowers in the spring from May until late December. The fruits are acute dandelions that help the dissemination by animals. The root is long-shaped, cylindrical, 18-20 cm long with a diameter of about 2 cm. In the common jargon it is common to refer to the carrot as to the edible part, orange, which is the root.
Carrot is a plant cultivated for a long time, originally from the Middle East and from ancient times spread throughout the Mediterranean basin. It is a vegetable not particularly difficult to cultivate but requires a soft and sandy soil, so it does not fit in any garden.
Carrots call for a climate that is not too hot because the root hardens if the temperature is too high, generally adapted to all climates, while they are more demanding regarding the type of soil.
Carrots, in fact, prefer a soft and loose soil, with a sunken water. Solid or compact ground is not good because they can not properly root the roots. To have a more suitable soil, you can mix sand on the ground of your garden where you plan to grow carrots. This should be done at least two months before sowing.
Before planting the carrots, it is necessary to work the soil because it is very loose, with a deep groove (about 40 cm deep), placing compost or other organic fertilizer.
To better fertilize manure and nutrient compost, be careful not to overdo it with nitrogen which causes a marked development of the leaf part at the expense of the root, which obviously is the part we are interested in this vegetable. In addition, nitrogenated compounds of chemical origin always involve other physiological alterations of plants with increased phytopathy and related pathologies.
For the sowing period, being the rooting carrot, it can not be sown in semen; it is a vegetable that is planted directly in the ground. It is sown in spring (March to June) and in the family garden can be sown several times in order to have a scalar production. There are early varieties that can be sown in February and late which can be sown until October.
For the sixth of the plant you can sow it, but it’s best to do it by file, avoiding too much competition between the roots. The distance between the files should be 25 cm, along the row at least 5 cm (the optimal distance between the plants is 8 cm). The seed is buried at a depth of one centimeter.
The seed of the carrot is very small, it can facilitate sowing by mixing with seeds a little sand or making strips of paper newspaper wet with cocoon to be buried. There are also ready-to-roll tapes or semi-confectionary tapes on the market.
The seed of the carrots germs at temperatures between 12 and 20 degrees, the carrot has a particularly slow germination, it can take up to 40 days to emerge. A nonwoven fabric cover helps to heat up and can speed germination.
A remedy to speed germination can be to dip seeds in water or chamomile a few hours before sowing.
Since the germination of the carrot seeds is slow, it is necessary to avoid the competition of herbaceous herbs with frequent manual weeding near the seeds and the hoe. With carrots you can also use the pirodiserbo while it is evident that you should never resort to any kind of chemical disinfection (which applies to all vegetable species especially for food use).
If after the sowing the plants are too thick, it is necessary to reduce the seedlings, eliminating the stubborn ones and leaving a seedling every 5 cm. The operation should be done when the carrot emits the fourth leaf and the area area is 3-4 cm high.
A slight creep may be necessary if the roots emerge from the ground, in order to prevent the light from making the carot collar green. Moving the land with the hoe is an operation, however, useful to keep the ground soft around the root.
If the garden is exposed to the wind or in any case tends to create a crust on the ground it is best to protect the crop with a mulch.
As far as irrigation is concerned, carrots do not need constant moisture, just water when the soil becomes dry, rubbing the water so it does not create stagnation.
For carrots, as with other species, it is always advisable to consortia that increases organoleptic qualities and phytosanitary conditions. Carrot and onion (or even garlic and shallots) have mutual benefit from consocia- tion, in fact one removes the parasites of the other (carrot fly, leek worm). A good neighborhood in the synergic garden is also that of radish and carrot.
For rotation, however, it is never necessary to repeat the carrot to itself; the carrots well follow solanaceae such as tomato or potato, peas, garlic or leek. It is best to avoid knocks, asparagus and onion, chenopodiaceae and other umbrella plants (such as fennel and celery).
Carrots have a crop cycle of 75 to 130 days depending on the sown variety, so it usually collects two months after sowing. It normally collects when the diameter of the root exceeds centimeter and is below two cm. If you leave too much in the soil hardens your heart (a central part of color tending to white) that becomes woody. Harvest of carrots is done by grinding the root, it is advisable to soften the soil by watering the days before. In order to preserve the collected carrots it is necessary to let it dry in a ventilated and damp environment, then keep it cool. In the family garden you can sow the scalloped carrots to have a scalar harvest that allows the horticulturist to bring fresh carrots on the table for most of the year.
There are several varieties of carrots that can be cultivated, from classic orange carrots to curious vegetables such as purple black selections. We recommend for the vegetable garden some varieties chosen for productivity and ease of cultivation, including:
Carrot Nantese – very good variety, cylindrical carrot, heartless and tendentally collar-free.
Carrot Kuroda – Early varieties with sweet and tender root.
Carrot Berlicum – very long carrot, with intense taste, is preserved for a long time.
Carota Flakkee – heat-resistant, large size with elongated tip.
Among the phytopathies we remember that water shortage causes root partition to ruin the vegetables, while excess water produces splits that often associate with bacteria that result in rotations. Among the bacilli bacteria we remember: Xantomonas and Erwina Carotovora; these are the two bacteria that can affect the carrots, in organic horticulture are prevented by copper.
As far as fungal diseases are concerned, carrots are attacked by two types of dandruff: one affects the aerial part, the other attacks the root, and may also engage the alternate, especially on heavy and clayey soil. Sclerotia, on the other hand, causes damage to the tissues that are covered with a white muffin and then black dots. These diseases can also be prevented by the use of copper.
Among underground parasites: Nematodes produce beetles on the root, while the ferretti hail.
Among the insects we remember the Carrot Fly: this fly lays eggs in the aerial part of the carrot, its larvae eat the plant. This fly, however, does not withstand the smell of liliaceae (garlic and onion). Hence the consortium technique from which the onion also benefits because the carrot in turn is unwelcome to the onion fly.
Finally, the aphid attack is particularly difficult to detect due to the shape of the leaves, it serves a lens to detect them, and the symptom of an attack may be the lack of leaf growth. Carrot aphids fight with pyrethrum.
Uses and Traditions –
Carrot Daucus is an aromatic herb, diuretic, with decongestion on the digestive tract and stimulating the uterus. Indicated against urinary calculations, cystitis, gout, edema, flaky digestion, in menstrual problems. Seed infusion stimulates digestion and is a relief in urinary tract infections
Fresh carrots or juice, for high content in essential oils, can be used as a vermifuge.
The oil, from the delicate scent of Iris, is used in cosmetic products for its beta-carotene content. The cosmetic use of oily extract improves the condition of dry and cracked skin. For emollient, restitutive and skin protective properties, it is widely used in emulsions and ointments for the treatment of dry skin and anti-aging products, to stimulate tanning and to cure skin impurities.
Oil extracted from seeds is also used in liquor manufacturing; the central purple flower core, is used by artisans in the miniature.
The edible carrot dish was known since antiquity. Few are the historical news of the plant, but it is known that Greeks, Latinos, Slavs and Germans appreciated it above all for the aromatic scent.
We find it depicted in the frescoes of Pompeii and Pliny the quotation for the healing, diuretic and stimulating properties of the gastric apparatus. The “ancient” carrots do not have to imagine them as we are accustomed to see today: in Roman times they were thin and knotty, the taste was acrid, the whitish heart, the purple color and the consistency ….. it reads: “hard as Stone”. It is not named in the recipes of the Renaissance, where they advised the flowers to prepare a herbal tea against epilepsy.
While the rootstock of the wild carrot is woody, subtle and unpleasant smell, what we consume today was selected in the 16th century, it is ingrowing and is rich in carotenes.
The denomination of “carrot” species is used already in the 2nd – 3rd century AD. by Authors explaining its use in the kitchen. In England, during the reign of James I, ladies came into fashion to adorn their hair with flowered branches of wild carrot.
There are several legends about this plant: it was believed that a carrot flower, harvested on full moon nights, was used to cure epilepsy or to aid conception: to favor it, it was necessary to drink a glass of wine in which they were you’ve boiled the plant’s flowers. Probably because of its shape, it was considered aphrodisiac and capable of treating male impotence.
The carrot is cultivated with a rootstock of white color in forage and orange varieties in vegetable varieties (carotene crystals in chromoplasts of parenchymal cells). The carrot is rich in vitamin A (Beta-carotene), B, C, and E, as well as simple minerals and sugars such as glucose. For this reason, its consumption promotes an increase in the body’s defenses against infectious diseases.
The edible part of the carrot – cultivated twice a year – is the root (cone-shaped): early carrots are harvested after about four months, while the late ones require about six. Depending on the cultivation time, their length may vary from a minimum of 3 cm to a maximum of 20 cm. Use in the carrot kitchen is varied; can be used to prepare purees, juices, soups, cakes, etc. but also raw in salad. At a temperature of 0 ° C and a 90-95% humidity can be kept for several months while maintaining all its organoleptic properties unaltered. When cooked with steam or raw food, it also retains all its property.
The central purple white flower is used by miniature craftsmen. Its fruits produce an aromatic oil that is used for the production of liquor. Carrot is very used in cosmetics because it is antioxidant and rich in beta-carotene, so it stimulates tanning by preventing the formation of wrinkles and curing dry skin and its impurities; Its pulp is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent suitable for treating sores, skin lesions and skin cracks. It is well suited for the treatment of lung diseases and dermatoses; which gastro-protector of the stomach walls is an excellent anti-ulcer. Among the many other healing properties, carrot has the ability to prevent aging of the skin, facilitate milk secretion in puerpers, toning liver, regulating cholesterol. Other recognized benefits include facilitating diuresis, kidney toning, elevation of hemoglobin, and regulation of intestinal functions. Finally, according to some, it favors the sight bringing relief to tired and flushed eyes.
Assimilation of carotenoids in crude carrots is 4-5%. Increases up to 5 times in the presence of omega-9 fatty acids (as in the avocado), and in the presence of non-prolonged cooking (as is the case with steam).
Carrot use is common as dietary supplementation of vitamin A precursors such as beta-carotene. Recall that beta-carotene, unlike vitamin A, can not give rise to build-up toxicity problems as our body converts it slowly and intestinal absorption is reduced proportionally to its intake. Carotenoids are antioxidant compounds considered important for their protective activity.
Color as an indicator of the presence of active ingredients of particular value in foods is now a concept that has been differently and widely used in recent years. Indeed, it is only recently that foods have begun to be considered not only as “containers” of vitamins, minerals, and of course proteins, fats, carbohydrates, but also because of the presence of numerous compounds whose value for our health is highlighted every day more. Many of these important compounds are just the ones that give color to foods, especially fruits and vegetables. For example, polyphenols, cranberry anthocyanins, and carotenoids whose color, depending on the type, ranges from yellow to red. All the fruits and vegetables that these colors show normally contain carotenoids, such as melon, pepper, but also tomato with its red lycopene and of course the carrot.
They are composed of several properties including an important antioxidant activity. They are generally liposoluble and in the case of carrot, beta-carotene tends to accumulate in the skin. An abundant consumption of carrots in fact produces an orange-colored epidermis that returns absolutely normal when consumption becomes normal. Their chemical structure and the ability to accumulate to the “surface” of the living, whether plant or animal, makes the carotenoids of important photoprotectors.
Beta-carotene in humans converts to the level of intestinal mucosa in retinol (vitamin A) and is therefore more precisely a precursor of vitamin A.
Preparation Method –
Carrots can be cooked in various ways, grated with lemon juice to counteract the sweetness of the carrot with its acidity. You can also cook steam. They are sometimes used to accompany the sauce with celery and onions. Also famous are carrot cakes, often with almonds.
Thanks to its sweet and sugary taste for the presence of the fructose contained in it, the carrot root is used to make carrot juice and carrot jam; the production of carrot jam in Spain has allowed the European Union to consider carrot as if it were a fruit, as a European Union Directive requires that jams can only be made with fruit, so, watermelon and melon, the carrot root is a vegetable in production and a fruit in consumption.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. The Health of the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and Experiences with Medicinal Herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (eds.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Caution: Pharmaceutical applications and surgical uses are indicated for information purposes only; they do not represent any prescription of a medical type; Therefore, any responsibility for their use for the purpose of healing, aesthetics or food is refused.