Saturday, October 12, 2013

In Which I Conquer Carrot Growing

I pulled up my first successful carrots ever, today.

I don't have a great track record with carrots.  I'm not entirely sure, but it might be my mother's fault. (Does that mean I need therapy?)  I remember this one time when we were putting in a garden when I was-- maybe 8? and she said in passing something about carrots not being very easy to grow, so that year she had bought a paper strip of carrot seeds, which basically meant you didn't have to thin them or worry about where you dropped them.  So then you'd bury the strip, water, and up they'd come. (I may be wrong, but I almost think that they didn't come up that year, either.)

Fast forward 18 years, and I have apparently retained the concept that carrots are hard to grow.  I've had that in my mind for the last three years as I slowly worked my way into gardening knowledge and did the whole "trial and error" side of things.  Carrots, thus far, have been an epic failure.

Well this year I totally owned the carrot world.  I not only got them to germinate, I got them to GROW!  I've never even gotten them to germinate before.  It's really pretty sad.  But this year I figured out the problem: the carrot seed packages are wrong.  Yup.  Wrong.

I'm not entirely sure how this travesty happened, but I think it probably had something to do with the rule of thumb that a seed should be planted four times as deep as it is tall.  Have you seen a carrot seed?  They're minuscule. Four times as deep as no height is still nothing.  So basically you're supposed to barely cover the seeds with dirt, and then-- here's the fun part-- never let them dry out.  Um-- really?  These seeds are lying basically on the surface of the dirt in the first really warm month of summer and I'm supposed to somehow magically keep them moist?

Okay, yes, I could have used a drip system, but I didn't.  The hoses were all commandeered elsewhere for crops that I actually had faith in.

So.  This year I planted them twice as deep as normal, and unceremoniously covered them with a spare piece of plywood.  It worked.  They germinated like crazy, and before long I found myself wondering how in the world to thin these things.  I had broadcast seeded them, as opposed to nicely placing them individually in their geometrically correct spot, so they were basically ground cover that I had to somehow sort out.  I ended up pulling plants somewhat indiscriminately and vowing that next year, I'll be planting them in lines.  At least then it'll only require two dimensional thinning instead of three. (Or is it one dimensional instead of two?  Whatever.)

Anyway.  I planted three different varieties of carrots, and this is what they looked like when I pulled them out:

They're called Oxheart, Danvers Half Long (Half? Seriously? That thing is 10+ inches!) and Nantes Coreless.  I'm slightly enamored of the oddballs, just because they're such novelties.  We'll run some taste tests soon and decide what will earn a spot in the ground next year.  Now that I've conquered the world of carrots, I plan on planting a year's supply instead of the bundle we ended up with this year:

Not too shabby, but it definitely won't last long.  Especially since my thinning efforts weren't entirely successful and we have some really truly baby carrots in that pile.

In other news, I finally dealt with all the potatoes sitting on the back deck curing themselves.  Our final weigh-in for the year on potatoes was 165 pounds.  Not too shabby for a 6x20 foot plot of ground.  If I had bought those in bulk from my usual source, I would have paid around $170.  (That's a mix of russets and yukon golds, which tend to cost more.)

It's possible that I conquered the potato world, too.  It's been a banner day.


  1. I have had issues growing carrots as well! Great tip about the plywood!

    1. Nothing like complete frustration producing genius ideas...hope it works for you too...and I hope it works for me two years in a row. :-D

  2. I love homegrown carrots! So yummy!

  3. I am a Carrot Monster. Nom nom carrots!

  4. Grandma B could probably give you some hints. I don't remember her ever having troubles growing carrots. My humble opinion? Carrots with a round bottom on them taste the best. An aside...the reason cardboard recycling is so popular is that store bought carrots are the end result.....

    1. Same with shelling peas, I believe...we couldn't believe how good the garden version was!