The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Carrot

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CARROT (daucus carota, Tourn.), a plant of the natural order umbelliferæ, or parsley family. It is a biennial, bearing seeds on stems 2 to 2½ ft. high, in clusters called umbels. It may be seen growing in its wild state in pastures, where it is a great pest. The tap root of the domesticated carrot is raised from seeds sown in cultivated ground, and has long been used in soups and stews,, and is a favorite in Germany and France. It is a promoter of digestion, and is especially valued as a substantial food for horses and other stock. Butter of an excellent quality and bright color can be made by feeding a peck of carrots morning and night to each milch cow. They can be raised at the rate of 500 to 1,500 bushels per acre. The best soil is a deep dry loam, rich from previous manuring. The carrot germinates slowly, requiring about three weeks before it appears above ground. This slow growth allows the weeds time to start, and makes culture more expensive. To avoid this, it has been the practice with many to drill radishes, mustard, or oats with them, to mark the rows at an early period so as to allow the spaces between the rows to be cleaned, even before the plants are up. Some growers place the seed in a bag, and bury it in the earth until it begins to swell and show signs of sprouting, when it is rolled in plaster and planted. The amount of seed required is 2½ to 4 lbs. per acre, depending on nearness of drills; if radishes are sown with them, an equal bulk will be required. Early carrots for house use are sown as soon as the soil is fit to receive the seed. Field carrots do better, sown from May 10 to June 10. In England carrots are best grown on ridges, but in our warm climate flat culture is to be preferred. In gardens they are sown in drills 15 to 20 in. asunder, and cultivated by hand. In the field they are planted from 24 to 30 in. apart, grown more thickly in the drill, and tilled by horse power. The land is deeply ploughed, sub-soiled, smoothly harrowed, and rolled. The seed is sown from a drill barrow at a depth of one half to three quarters of an inch. Some drilling machines sow a special manure with the seed, which is advantageous in giving the plants an early start. Should any manure be required, it would be advisable to use soluble special manures, made with regard to the wants of the plant and the deficiencies of the soil. The best Peruvian guano, mixed with many times its bulk of muck or charcoal dust, will answer a good purpose if ploughed in the soil before planting; 300 to 500 lbs. per acre will be required for a good dressing. Soluble super-phosphate of lime, with about one third its weight of guano, probably forms one of the best general manures for carrots. Ten bushels of common salt per acre will add to its value; and on most soils 25 or 50 bushels of unleached wood ashes dressed over the surface separately from and after the other manures, so that they will not come in immediate contact with the ashes, will increase the yield. After-culture consists in frequent stirring of the soil with a horse hoe, root cleaner, or other similar instrument, which cuts close to the plant, and demolishes all weeds in spaces between the rows. In November the crop is lifted, by running a subsoil lifter close to a row of carrots at full depth, say 10 to 20 inches; this will loosen the whole soil, and the roots may be readily pulled, the tops removed with a knife, fed to the cattle, or left on the ground to be ploughed under for manure, while the roots are stored in a cool cellar, where an even temperature just above freezing is maintained; or they may be pitted in long narrow piles in the field, covered with two or three inches of long rye straw and several inches in depth of earth, leaving straw chimneys to ventilate the pits. When fed to cattle, they should be washed in clean water, and cut in thin slices, and given alone or with other food. The meal for fattening cattle should be sprinkled over carrots.