Many a home gardener will tell you that producing a normal-looking carrot in the back yard patch is not as easy as those bags of soldier-straight, perfectly symmetrical, evenly sized, deeply oranged carrots readily available in every supermarket would have you believe.
In fact, even the odd looking “Crazy bunch’ carrots they promote in stores in an attempt to wean us off perfection are pretty impressive with their depth of colour and generous girth.
So I’ve come to believe that the perfect carrot you see everywhere is about as natural as a Stepford wife or a Venezuelan beauty queen.
Quite a challenge then to
#56 Try and Grow a Dead-Straight Carrot
I’ve attempted carrot farming a few times over the years, but the bitter disappointment of waiting months, only to harvest yellowing, mangled, bifid runts has meant that the allure of planting them every year has now waned into oblivion.
Of course, I thought I was following all the rules:
- Soil: Rich, dense and well composted
- Seedlings: Healthy looking ones in punnets from a reputable nursery
- Feed: Regularly, with a high quality nitrogen-containing fertiliser
- Water: Frequently and generously
Then I watched a gardening show on television about growing carrots and realised every single rule I’d followed was, literally, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG & WRONG.
So, um, starting again…
- Soil: Rich, dense and well composted?
Ha! Don’t be silly.
Collect sand from the beach and mix it with so-so soil you have that’s a bit deficient in nutrients. Especially deficient in nitrogen.
Just make sure it’s light and fluffy and sort of trickly between your fingers.
- Seedlings: Healthy looking ones in punnets from a reputable nursery?
Nope. Never grow carrots from seedlings. Doomed to fail apparently.
Planting from seeds is the only way to go…
Not unless you’re after copious greenery on top and rubbish carrots underneath.
NO NITROGEN FEEDING
- Water: Frequently and generously?
…if you want to DESTROY them.
So water when you think of it.
If the mood takes you.
Then there are a heap of other tips you need to follow:
Cover the newly-planted seeds to keep them warm, cosy and protected until they sprout:
Cull a number of the sprouted seeds early to reduce crowding:
Then discard the seedlings removed…
No…oo. My babies…
Cull again a few weeks later when growth is lush and magnificent.
And discard again…
This is doing my head in…
Until finally, weeks and weeks later, when a small orange blip is seen breaching the soil and you believe it’s time to harvest, you hope against hope that you’ve managed to grow a dead-straight carrot.