Clansgian at wmconnect.com
Clansgian at wmconnect.com
Tue Jan 13 12:38:39 EST 2009
> >This last time I grew carrots they were 'hairy'.
Carrots were a crop that did not come naturally for me, I've done every sort
of experiment with carrots imaginable. None were too much successful, but I
learned a great deal that was useful info.
One of the first things I was determined to do was figure out a way to
transplant carrots, a feat usually deemed impossible. The literature said that
carrots operate by sendig down a hairlike taproot, branching that well below the
soil surface, then swelling the root to make the carrot proper. Any
disturbance of this initial taproot deforms the carrot.
I use transplants for everything I can, the more transplanting the better.
It eliminates the problems with irregular germination and a developed seedling
is being planted in newly cultivated ground which gives it a deadly advantage
over germinating weeds.
These concerns would go double for carrots. The germination can be irregular
and it is always slow. Weeds can sprout up and smother the emerging carrots.
Also the canopy of carrot leaves does not make a very good living mulch
until the carrot is pretty large.
I won't catalog my schemes for transplanting, suffice it to say they all
proved the conventional wisdom to be correct.
Now I plant them two ways: In beds made of small ridges 4" or so apart. I
can identify the location of the carrots by the ridges and weed the rest clean,
also I can water in the space between ridges without washing out the tiny
seeds. When the carrots have established themselves, I fill in the troughs
between ridges with compost to level the bed once more.
A second method is this: and it comes from the observations of my failed
attempts to transplant them. Hairy carrots do not result so much from too much
fertility as it does from too much fertility close to the surface. The
no-till-teetotalers depend on earthworms to drag organic material own rather than mix
it in mechanically. This tends to have the upper layers more fertile than the
The carrot's game plan is to decide how big a tap root it will use to store
food, then send down the root to a certain depth and branch the roothairs from
there. If it finds the upper layers very fertile but the lower ones not, it
has no recourse but to send out root hairs from the swollen root.
So here is my second way: I get a really fertile bed prepared usually by
applying a lot of chicken manure and or rabbit manure (plus wood ashes which also
contain potassium and calcium). Then I cover that with some inert organic
material or else very low fertility material such as neutralized peat, half
rotten sawdust, light compost with a lot of creek sand. This inert-ish material
goes on 4" thick or better. Carrot seeds are broadcast on top. Weeds are
mimimum but kept religiouisly pulled.
The carrot looks at the medium in which it has sprouted and immediately sends
down the tiny taproot until it finds the very fertile ground beneath. It
doesn't bother to branch the taproot before that because it knows it would do it
The very best garden carrot I've found is Touchon (Nichols carries it, I
think). It is a bit short, but ideally suited for the type of cultivation I'm
doing. The last few years I've grown those white, red, yellow, and purple
carrots offered by, among others, Baker Creek. They did really well with the white
ones being the most tricky to get a good roots.
Plant carrots all the time. OK, with the freezy-frosty on us the next couple
of weeks, maybe not today exactly. But just as soon as this worst breath of
winter passes, plant some carrots. Cover the planting with an inch of sawdust
or peat or some such and if a ground heave threatens, cover it with a tarp of
straw or some such. Then in three weeks or so, plant some more, then more
and more all the way to early November.
When you pull your first carrots, cut off the tops leaving about 1/2" of
carrot and plant them back in the garden. Within a very short time you will have
another crop of carrots. Sometimes I prepare a bed in the garden and take a
basket and knife and as I harvest the carrots I want for the next couple of
days, I simply turn to the other bed and plant the tops back (tops, leaves, and
all). The same top will often produce carrots for three years.
Unlike many crops that keep very well in the ground where they grow, this is
only true of carrots for a short time. They loose their sweetness when they
are overwintered. But they keep in the refrigerator or root cellar for months
with no loss of quality.
They dehydrate really well, freeze well - especially the very little ones,
and are OK canned. When you pull up carrots and have a lot of those little
pencil sized ones along with the big ones, wash them and then lay them on a
cookie sheet and freeze them hard. Take them out of the freezer and dip them in
cold water which has a very little salt in it and immediately return them to the
cookie sheet and freezer. When the carrots are thus glazed, store them in
the freezer loose in a big plastic bag. When you want some small carrots (for
cooking, they are no good for eating fresh once they are frozen), you just
reach in the bag and take as many as you want. They will keep well a year like
Dehydrated carrots will keep well for more than five years.
Carrots are biennials but most of them can be annoyed into going to seed in
one year. Plant them in poor ground, don't be too quick to water them, and
don't weed around them. Once carrot will often make half a pint of seed.
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