I love carrots. I put them in soups, stews and stir-fries, I cut them up for dips and I juice them for delicious drinks.
I do find, however, that carrots are one of the hardest vegetables to grow. I plant them early (they don’t mind a bit of frost). I put them into rows several inches apart and cover the seeds with a bit of dirt. Then, I babysit them. Carrots take ten to fourteen days to germinate and they live for all this time in the top ¼ inch of the soil. This MUST NOT dry out at any point during this time or the seeds will die. Since our garden is composed of raised beds, this is an arduous task. On a warm, sunny, windy day, I have been known to water the carrots four or five times in one day.
Once the carrots pop up, life becomes a bit easier.
They will send a root down deep and the watering becomes a bit less of an issue. We still can’t let them dry out, but they have a much bigger well from which to choose their liquid.
As they grow, we need to make sure that they have enough room.
I generally thin them slowly as first the chickens get to eat the tiny ones, then—by the time they are as big as my little finger—I start to put them into meals. It’s important to give them the room that they need; otherwise, at harvest there are hundreds of teensy-tiny carrots which won’t keep too well in the root cellar.
There is a weed that often grows in my garden which is one that I like. It’s called purslane and it’s a quick grower. I leave this weed where the carrots are thin until it is edible. Here’s a picture of a perfect purslane ready for harvest.
You want to get the purslane before it flowers for best taste. Also—they have a tendency to hold onto their dirt so they have to be well washed. You can steam them and eat them with butter or juice them. Yum!
Since I put many carrots into the root cellar, I have them year-round from the garden. I must say that I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t really like carrots from other sources…very spoiled!
Celeste Longacre has been growing virtually all of her family’s vegetables for the entire year for over 30 years. She cans, she freezes, she dries, she ferments & she root cellars. She also has chickens.
Celeste has also enjoyed a longtime relationship with The Old Farmer’s Almanac as their astrologer!
Celeste's new book on living lightly on the Earth is due out September 25, 2014.