Are your carrots bitter, more crooked than a pirates hook or split in two like Siamese Twins? Discover how to grow these crunchy delights which are full of beta-carotene needed for good eyesight, skin health & normal growth. Originally purple, they were only later bred orange as an act of patriotism by the Dutch.
|PARTS YOU CAN EAT:||Root|
|SOWING SEASON:||Spring, Summer, Autumn – see sowing chart|
|SOIL pH:||pH 6.5 – 7.0|
|HOW MANY:||25 plants per 4 people|
|PLANT AGAIN:||Every 3 – 4 weeks in growing season|
|SEED SPACING:||Seeds 5 – 10cm apart / 2 x 1m rows|
|GERMINATION:||14 – 21 Days|
|HARVEST:||8 – 12 weeks after sowing|
|STORE:||Refrigerate or freeze|
|COMPANION PLANTS:||Basil, lettuce, onions, parsley, rocket, radishes, rosemary, sage, tomatoes|
|HEIRLOOM SEED:||Little finger, Round Parisian, Purple Haze|
GROW CARROTS IN 4 EASY STEPS…
Carrots are one of the few vegetables more nutritious cooked than raw, as our body is able to access 100% more beta-carotene due to the break down of the cellular walls. Their skin also contains anti-oxidants, so I rather scrub instead of peel them, when I prepare a scrumptious meal. This is how I grow mine…
Carrots like deep, well worked, sandy loam soil with good drainage. They are not heavy feeders so I don't add too much compost as this can make them split or grow misshapen. I like to add an organic slow release fertilizer, like Biotrissol and bone meal, a good organic source of Phosphorous (root maker).
I make a raised bed & sow my carrot seed directly into farrows about 1cm deep. To make sowing easier I mix seed with river sand (or use seed from the 'sprinkle seed' collection) making my rows 15 - 30cm apart with a planting line. Keep soil damp & add organic snail bait in area to avoid snails or slugs decimating your crop.
Carrots are slow to germinate and thinning seedlings will improve your crop yield. Thin to 2cm apart once 2 -3 true leaves appear and again when 15cm tall to 5 - 7cm apart (these can be eaten as baby carrots). Remember: cover shoulders that peep out with soil, to avoid them getting green & bitter.
Young carrots have a better flavour & texture than older ones so don't wait too long to harvest yours. Remember: twist the leaves off immediately after harvesting to avoid the nutrients being pulled out of the root. Leaves can be used in salad or soups or scattered back onto soil as green mulch (great potassium source).
I trim the leaves off my harvested carrots but do not wash them. Filling zip lock bags with damp sand, sawdust, or straw, I pack the carrots in between, seal bag & keep them in my refrigerator. They should keep for around 2 months using this method. Why not grate some up to make this mouth watering carrot cake?
Why not go back to your roots & grow the original purple carrot like 'Purple Haze' or try the smooth skinned, midget, cylindrical cored 'Little Fingers' ? Top of my 'gourmet' carrot list is the 'Parisian' round carrot. Although the round carrots found in shops have been machine sliced, the original 'Parisian' carrots do indeed grow round. These heirlooms adapted after hundreds of years growing in French clay soil and are sweet, crunchy and very easy to grow.
GOOD COMPANIONS: Basil, lettuce, onions, parsley, rocket, radishes, rosemary, sage, tomatoes
BAD COMPANIONS: Dill, caraway, cabbage, cauliflower
Plant your carrots with rocket & radishes. Rocket germinates earlier and its leaves provide just enough shade to keep the young carrots moist. The radishes germinate and grow very quickly and will be pulled and eaten by the time the carrots need space.