We are harvesting handfuls of delicious carrots and using them in a variety of ways in the kitchen.
Sow spring, summer and autumn, all year in mild areas. So buy a packet today and get crunching!
Carrots come in a rainbow of colours. Photo - Elena Dijour/Shutterstock.com
Carrots comes in all shapes and sizes - round, red, orange, purple, white, pakistani, baby, long, finger length. Carrots are easy to grow, but they do take about 3-4 months to harvest after sowing. They need a sunny spot with deep, well drained friable soil that have either been sieved (a painful but effective job) or that have been carefully forked over to remove small stones and impurities. Incorporate aged manure, compost and complete fertiliser into the soil to a depth of at least 30cms. Seeds should be sown from early winter through to early autumn. Plant outside those times and the plants are likely to 'bolt' or go to seed early. Sow directly into the ground where they are to grow, 10 mm deep, 2-3 cm apart in rows 20 cm apart. Crusting of the soil can prevent seeds from even germination.
Choose shorter rounded varieties in poorer shallow soils or pots. Photo - photolibrary.com
A trick I learnt as an apprentice was to cover the seeds with either seed-raising mix or a combination of vermiculite and peat moss. Daily watering is
important to aid germination and keep the seedlings growing. Be patient; it can take up to three weeks for them to show above the surface. Germination
is 100% if you prevent the soil from drying out. Covering seed rows with shade cloth, hessian or cardboard etc until germination can help we do this
when we sow in summer only). Don't over fertilise with high nitrogen feeds. A gentle watering with a seaweed solution each week and a light side dressing
of a complete fertiliser each month is sufficient.
Carrots don't have to be harvested all at once; the removal of some young carrots promotes the development of the remaining ones. Rotate crops to prevent disease build-up.
White carrots taste just like orange ones. Photo - Linda Ross
Buy interesting varietes from see from companies such as Greenpatch Seeds, Eden and Diggers. We like 'Heirloom Mixed', 'All Seasons Carrots', 'Carrots All Year, 'Purple Haze'- the good thing with heirloom vars is you can allow one plant to go to seed at the end of the season and collect the seed for the next sowing.
'Sugarsnax' - Delicious, 25cm long (no joke) and was very easy to grow. They were planted in April this year.
'Little Finger' - The most popular variety of baby carrots. This gourmet variety produces tender, sweet carrots, harvest at 10cm long.
Excellent choice for container gardening or kid’s gardens. Sow spring, summer and autumn, 55-60 days.
'Heirloom Mixed' - Carrots are purple, white and red, taste delicious and are just as easy to grow as other varieties.
Other varieties to look out for include 'Western Red' and 'Topweight'; and medium-length 'All Seasons','King Chantenay' and 'Early Horn'. Balcony gardeners should try the smaller 'Short 'n' Sweet, 'Easigrow', 'Suko' and 'Baby' which can be harvested earlier than other varieties.
Soups, raosted, juices, sliced. Carrots are the most versatile of root veg. Photo - Linda Ross