Carrots hail from Afghanistan around the 10th century and were once purple and yellow, not orange. Modern carrots get their bright orange color from B-carotene that is metabolized in the human body into vitamin A, necessary for healthy eyes, general growth, healthy skin and resistance to infections. Today, the most commonly purchased carrot is the Imperator carrot. What are Imperator carrots? Read on to learn some Imperator carrot info, including how to grow Imperator carrots in the garden.
What are Imperator Carrots?
You know those “baby” carrots you buy at the supermarket, the kind the kids love? Those are actually Imperator carrots, likely so are the regular sized carrots you buy at the grocers. They are deep orange in color, tapered to a blunt point and around 6-7 inches (15-18 cm.) long; the epitome of the perfect carrot.
They are somewhat coarse and not as sweet as other carrots, but their thin skins makes them easy to peel. Because they contain less sugar and have a bit tougher texture, they also store better than other types of carrot, making them the most common carrot sold in North America.
Imperator Carrot Info
The original ‘Imperator’ carrot was developed in 1928 by Associated Seed Growers as a stabilized cross between ‘Nantes’ and ‘Chantenay’ carrots.
There are a number of varieties of Imperator carrot, including:
- First Class
- Imperator 58
- Orlando Gold
- Spartan Premium 80
Some, like Imperator 58, are heirloom varieties; some are hybrid, such as Avenger; and there is even a variety, Orlando Gold, which contains 30% more carotene than other carrots.
How to Grow Imperator Carrots
Full sun and loose soil are key ingredients when growing Imperator carrots. The soil needs to be loose enough to allow the root to form correctly; if the soil is too heavy, lighten it up with compost.
Sow the carrot seeds in the spring in rows that are about a foot (30 cm.) apart and cover them lightly with soil. Firm the soil gently over the seeds and moisten the bed.
Imperator Carrot Care
When the growing Imperator seedlings are around 3 inches (8 cm.) tall, thin them to 3 inches (8 cm.) apart. Keep the bed weeded and consistently watered.
Fertilize the carrots lightly after about 6 weeks from emergence. Use a nitrogen rich fertilizer such as 21-10-10.
Hoe around the carrots to keep weeds at bay, being careful not to disturb the carrot roots.
Harvest the carrots when the tops are about an inch and half (4 cm.) across. Don’t let this type of carrot mature completely. If they do, they become woody and less flavorful.
Prior to harvesting, soak the ground to make the carrots easier to pull up. Once they are harvested, cut the greens off to about ½ inch (1 cm.) above the shoulder. Store them layered in damp sand or sawdust or, in mild climates, leave them in the garden during the winter months covered with a thick layer of mulch.