We need to talk about Carrots.
They are the subject of many social media cries for help - more so than any other common veg, it seems. They don't grow, or don't grow very big, or they're mis-shapen. Here's my take on why we find growing carrots so difficult:
- Wrong conditions. Carrots prefer light, sandy soil, but will grow in most kinds of soil, with varying degrees of success. If you want long, straight carrots, you need light soil that easily drains water. The carrots then have to go searching for water and that's how they get their length. If you grow carrots in heavier soil, they will still grow, but maybe you won't get the size you want. Don't grow carrots in soil that has been fertilised - you'll get weird and wonderful shapes, but they'll still be good to eat.
- Transplanting seeds. If you grow carrot seedlings in trays and then try to transplant them, they won't grow. Always sow the seeds where you want the carrots to grow.
- Be patient! Carrot seeds can take 3-4 weeks to germinate, so don't have a hissy-fit if the seeds don't germinate promptly.
- Sow more than you need. Not all of your seeds will germinate and carrot seed doesn't store very well, so you might as well sow the lot. As the plants get bigger you can pull some out and leave the rest with more space to grow. The small 'thinnings' are lovely!
- Don't grow carrots in the same spot every year. It's the same with most veggies and good practice. It helps avoid a build-up of pests and disease and is better for your soil. You can also attract the dreaded Carrot Fly. It will lay eggs in the soil and the larvae will eat your carrots. By growing in different spots each year and interplanting with onions and garlic, you can deter this common pest.
Even after all this, some people will deem their carrot harvest to be a failure if they don't get long, straight roots like they get in the supermarket. As small-scale growers, I think we should be more concerned with taste than looks - unless you're planning on entering the village show for 'Longest and Straightest Carrot'. If you get mis-shapen, comedy roots, they'll still taste brilliant. Or trying growing a stubby variety, like in the pic. These are also available in the subscription box for April.
People go to extreme lengths to guarantee long and straight carrots - even growing in pipes! That all sounds like too much faff to me. I'm not in a competition with anyone to see who has the best carrot. They'll taste good, no matter their size.
What do you think? Straight and perfect, or wonky and weird? Drop me a reply!