Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Gardentime 2012: Growing Carrots

The first crop of carrots is in for the summer. They are a short, squat variety, as you can see from the picture. The fact that the carrots were able to grow well very much surprised me. I always thought of carrots as being difficult to grow and requiring a lot of space. A few of the carrots were not more than one inch or an inch and a half away from each other, but they still managed to thrive. I has half expecting to get some sort of Frankencarrot, or two carrots that merged together.

Root vegetables have proven tricky for me in the past. I've struggled with even easy to grow roots, like radishes. The beets last year were a disappointing flop. Yet, these carrots worked. Who knows why.

Growing roots is a lot different than growing herbs or fruits. There's no way to know how the roots are progressing. In my experience, leafy green tops is no indication of the health of the root itself. I wasn't sure if the carrots would be ready to be pulled yet. I kept waiting for their shoulders to push out of the dirt, but that never happened.

Instead, I just started pulling the other day. The first carrot was alarming. It was considerably wider on top than I was expecting. My initial reaction was to scream "holy shit" and run away. I had no idea of the total size of the carrot that was about to come out of the ground. In the end, it was thick on top but not very long, at most three and a half inches.

I grew the carrots in a wide, 15 inch deep pot. In the end, I had a harvest of 10 carrots. One was a micro carrot, not longer than an inch. The others grew to full size. This first crop was planted on April 1. The seeds took about three weeks to germinate. I pulled the last eight on Monday, July 2, so in all they took about 90 days from seed to harvest.

The plan is to plant another batch at the start of August, giving the hot pepper that shared the pot with them time to grow and thrive. If the new crop works out, it should be ready to harvest by the beginning of November.

Care for the plants was not difficult. I used a basic organic potting mix and watered daily or as the soil became dry. Over watering was an issue I've had with other roots, so I was a little light on the water, especially at first. For the next crop, I think I will mix some compost into the potting mix to give the plants an extra boost of food.

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