Carrots are hardy, cool season bienials that are easy to grow and store well if given the right conditions. They are members of the parsley family, and are packed with carotene (the source of vitamin A) and fiber, making them an important nutritional vegetable.
Carrots are usually planted in the spring in the north, as soon as the soil can be worked. In southern regions, they can be planted in late summer for a fall crop, and again in the spring. The key to a successful carrot crop is in the soil preparation. Carrots are root crops and need a light, loose, even sandy soil. If your area has clay or compacted soil, try growing carrots in raised beds. Heavy soil causes the root to become forked or deformed.
Carrot seed is very fine and is difficult to sow uniformly in the garden. Try mixing it with sand. Carrot seeds are very slow to germinate - it may take up to three weeks before you notice the seedlings, and the soil must be kept moist during this time. Use a light mulch if you cannot check the soil daily. Be diligent about keeping the area weeded, especially when carrots are young,
Once carrots are big enough to use in recipes calling for baby carrots, you thin them until they are about an inch apart. Harvest mature carrots when they are about 3/4 of an inch wide (60 days or so after planting). Fall planted carrots can be left in the ground to grow until the first killing frost. In milder areas, they can be mulched for harvest all winter. To prevent the tops from turning green (called sunburning), mound soil up once you see the roots swelling above the ground surface.
After sowing carrot seeds, cover the area with clear plastic to keep the soil warm, which helps the seeds germinate more rapidly.
Medicinal Value: Carrots are rich in beta carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant and is believed to be effective against some forms of cancer, including breast, ovarian, and lung cancers. It is also believed to be a preventative in stroke and heart disease. These properties are found in the vegetable, but not in vitamin supplements, so in high risk individuals, eating several servings of carrots per day is an excellent idea.
Carrots nourish they do not heal. If the body has the ability to heal itself, it will use the raw materials found in foods to do its own healing work. Herbs do not heal, they feed. Herbs do not force the body to maintain and repair itself. They simply support the body in these natural functions.
Carrots are credited with many medicinal properties; they are said to cleanse the intestines and to be diuretic, remineralizing, antidiarrheal, an overall tonic and antianemic. Carrot is rich in alkaline elements which purify and revitalize the blood. They nourish the entire system and help in the maintenance of acid-alkaline balance in the body. Raw grated carrot can be applied as a compress to burns for a soothing effect. Its highly energizing juice has a particularly beneficial effect on the liver.
An infusion of carrot seeds (1 teaspoon per cup of boiling water) is diuretic, stimulates the appetite, reduces colic, aids fluid retention and helps alleviate menstrual cramps. The dried flowers are also used made into a tea as a remedy for dropsy. Applied with honey, the leaves cleanse running sores or ulcers. Carrots are also supposed to help break wind and remove stitches in the side. Chewing a carrot immediately after food kills all the harmful germs in the mouth. It cleans the teeth, removes the food particles lodged in the crevices and prevents bleeding of the gums and tooth decay. Carrot soup is supposed to relieve diarrhoea and help with tonsilitus.
Raw carrot used to be grated and given to children to expel worms. Pulped carrot is used as a cataplasm for application to ulcers and sores. They were also supposed to improve your memory abilities and relieve nervous tension. Carrot is a stimulant, and also usefull in the treatment of chronic coughs, dysentery, windy colic, and chronic renal diseases. A tea made from the dried leaves should dispel wind from the bowels and relieve dropsy, kidney stones, and women's complaints.
Experimentally hypoglycemic, a tea made from carrot was believed to help maintain low blood sugar levels. Carrot tea has been recommended for bladder and kidney ailment, dropsy, gout, gravel; seeds are recommended for calculus, obstructions of the internal organs, dropsy, jaundice, scurvy. Carrots of one form or another were once served at every meal for liver derangements.
Eating carrots is good for allergies, aneamia, rheumatism, and is a tonic for the nervous system. Carrot is good for diarrhoea, constipation (very high in fibre), intestinal inflammation, cleansing the blood (a liver tonic), and is an immune system tonic. Carrot is traditionally recommended to weak, sickly or rickety children, to convalescents or pregnant women, its anti-aneamic properties having been famous for a long time.
Tea made the seeds can promote the onset of menstruation. It is effective on skin problems including broken veins/capillaries, burns, creeping impetigo, wrinkles and sun damage. Carrots also help in stimulating milk flow during lactation. Believe it or not the carrot is also effective against roundworms and dandruff. Pureed carrots are good for babies with diarrhoea, providing essential nutrients and natural sugars.
The carrot (the whole plant or its seeds) are considered to have the following properties:
Anthelmintic (destroying or expelling worms).
Carminative (expelling flatulence).
Diuretic (promoting the discharge of urine).
Emmenagogue (producing oils which stimulate the flow of menstrual blood).
Galactogogue (promoting the secretion of milk).
Ophthalmic (pertaining to the eye).
Oedema (water retention).