Carrots are too often ignored as a source of great joy. When boy one was even smaller than he is now we fed him all sorts of blended and stewed veggies. He loved “carrots” and “chicken with butternut squash.” He even went for “parsnips” and “rutabagas.” I include the scare quotes because there’s no telling what’s in those jars.
I even started growing parsnips and rutabagas, but he didn’t like the real thing. I do.
In any case, carrots are sweet and add flavor to nearly anything without masking other flavors. They’re also damned good for your digestive health.
This year I’m having some germination issues. That’s no surprise, carrots are notoriously difficult to germinate and they can take as long as three weeks to get going. During this time you’re supposed to keep the seedbed nice and moist (not wet mind you). I think some spots of poor watering on my part have been the problem. I went away last weekend and tried an experiment I often hear bandied about. I put a piece of remay directly on top of the seeded soil then covered that with a board and some 2X4s to hold it down. This is supposed to retain moisture and encourage germination. I was away for four days and when I returned a whole bunch of carrots had germinated in little clumps and a few were etiolated. That means they were really tall (well for a carrot seedling) and white because they thought they were still underground and had hit a rock. They were trying to grow around it. Poor dears. They didn’t make it. But I’ll keep trying and I’ll be better about watering this time, I promise.
Once they do germinate they’re pretty easy, especially if you mulch. They don’t like competition from weeds, rocks or sticks. A nice broken up seed bed with a slightly acidic pH (6.0 — to 6.8). Once I’ve worked in a little blood meal, I usually go over the seed bed breaking up clumps, so they’ll grow nice and easily.
Mocking all of my efforts from the sidelines is the wild progenitor of the carrot: queen Anne’s lace. It’s originally from Europe but does just fine around here. It has no problem germinating. If you haven’t noticed it, take a look at one of the inflorescences. In the center is a nearly black flower. This attracts the bugs like nobody’s business. Like hipsters to a PBR.
I seed carrot throughout the summer in little patches as space becomes available. That way I have a steady supply. Sometime in July or August I’ll seed a huge bunch for storage. I store carrots in the basement for winter consumption. I tried putting them in sand, but it wasn’t dry enough so they started to grow and got pretty weird looking though still edible. Last year I just used layers of newspaper and that worked great.
The best reason to grow carrots is that they surprise kids. Once the shoulders of the root start to show, get a kid to grab on to the whole plant and yank. This big carrot comes out of the ground all at once. My kids are over it, but I’m not. Once out of the ground get it washed and eaten while it’s still screaming, they’re juicier that way.