You Would (Seriously) Not Even Believe How Fun It Is to Grow Your Own Carrots

February 16th, 2012

I am not even kidding you.  Of all the crops I have grown or attempted to grow over the past few years in my little garden, my absolute favorite has got to be the humble carrot.

Why the carrot?

Why of all vegetables… of all fruits… of all herbs… of all the delicate perennials and annuals, shrubs, trees and grasses that I have attempted to grow, are carrots my favorite?

And why am I writing about this love in February?

I tried to grow carrots a few times before last year and I failed.  The first few times, I did not have raised beds and I did not know anything about gardening.  But this past season I had raised beds and even though I still don’t know much about gardening, raised beds seem to be particularly helpful for carrots.  Pushing that big root through the hard earth of my former garden beds is much harder than pushing it through the nice, loamy, friable soil in my raised beds.  And yet, when I sprinkled the almost microscopic carrots seeds into my raised beds early last Spring, I was pretty certain that I would get zero carrots for my efforts.  And yet LOOKY!

I grew carrots!

I grew so many carrots that I was even able to put some up for the winter months!

And that brings me to the reason that I am waxing so poetically about my carrots in February!

Because lately, I have been eating those frozen carrots that came out of my garden and THEY ARE DELICIOUS!

They are sweet and tender and plus I know exactly where they came from and who the maniac was that put them up!

ME!


Well… me and Paco.

I think the reason that carrots are so fun to grow is because you pull them out of the ground. You can’t really see what they look like until you have already committed to yanking one up and you never know what you are going to find until it is dangling from your fingers by their stringy tops.  Sometimes the results look like regular carrots, but other times they are split down the middle or they get weirdly stunted and look more oblong than they do spear like or they run into some impediment in the soil and come out with a weird twist or they go to all tops or they suffer from crowded conditions and come out pale and weak and much too thin. What that carrot is going to look like is always a mystery and I do love a good mystery. But then there’s other part about growing carrots.  The way that carrot crops show up in literature like Beatrix Potter and cartoons like Bugs Bunny.  They way that carrots always feature prominently in freshly harvested baskets of produce as if they were the ultimate symbol of a well grown garden.  Growing carrots has an added layer of strange anthropological wholesomeness for me. My carrot crop connects me to the past, to humankind’s first fumbling attempts to find food in the earth, to nurture crops, to find satisfaction in cooperating with nature to feed themselves.  It makes me feel so peasanty!

Raising a crop of carrots has a weird primitive feel to it.  Yanking a root crop from the ground, examining it’s shape and color and irregularities is positively aboriginal.  It connects me to the human legacy of gardening much more than say plucking a tomato. Digging potatoes is grunt work, and pulling beans is tiresome. Waiting for a green pepper to ripen takes forever so that when you finally do pull it, all you can think is “it’s about time!”  My herbs are so robust that sawing them down with a pair of scissors feels more like taming a wild field of weeds. But carrots? Drawing a bright orange sweet dagger from the earth, brushing off the mud and inspecting it in the warm summer sun has got to be a joyful ritual as old as… well… as old as dirt.

And the nice thing about carrots is that you can pick them as you need them, leaving the others in the ground until you need some more. And then! When you decide that it is time to pull them all, you can take them inside, shave off their rough hides, slice them into bite sized pieces, parboil them for just a minute or two and then dump them into freezer bags to use on a bitter cold winter day in a hearty soup or alongside a roast chicken or tossed at the last minute into a yummy stir-fry. I only wish I had put up three times as much!  I plan to dedicate a lot more space to carrots this coming year and I am unreasonably excited about this.

As you may have guessed, I am longing for Spring.

What are you excited about growing in your garden this year?

Comments

  • We had a great crop of carrots this year too but since I am too lazy to blanch and freeze them all I found a great way to store them that thwarts the evil molds we have here all winter. We use a big plastic bin filled with nice clean play sand. The kids put some sand in the container and stick the carrots point down in the sand, like planting, and bury them with more sand, adding carrots and sand until the container is full. All winter we just root around in the sand and pull up fresh crispy carrots again. They stay just as fresh as they were the Autumn day we took them out of the ground.
    The plum trees in Portland actually had flower buds on them yesterday. It won’t be long now!

  • poppy:

    Kohlrabi, lol. I am harvesting oranges and pummelos right now, dreaming about sweet peas and spinach and strawberries. I’ve never done carrots. You may have inspired me!

  • poppy:

    Does the washtub capture rain water?

    • Kait:

      I believe she plants flowers and such in the washtub. At least I recall seeing such in there, in another photo of the garden. But I could be losing my mind too.

    • Rechelle:

      I use it for flowers. But it catches the rain too.

  • Inga:

    I just can’t wait for the warmth. Even though this winter has been mild, it still isn’t warm enough for me!!

    I just canned Lemon Marmalade, it is so sweet/sour it makes you pucker to eat it! I have a friend in CA who has a tree in her back yard and they just rot there are so many!!!! Can you imagine??? So I asked her to send me a priority box filled with lemons. It was a wonderful day when those arrived. I juiced some and froze the juice, I got the rind off many, many lemons and I am making limoncello liquour. So many uses for lemons and a great day to spend a couple of days in February.

    Inga

  • Anoria:

    Everything! I’ve suffered from garden withdrawal for years, first mildly when I went away to college but could still go home on weekends to help my parents plant and weed and harvest, and recently it’s gotten much worse since I’ve been living in rental housing hundreds of miles from home. If all goes well, this spring I’ll have my very own house with my very own yard, and I’ll plant eight times as many veggies as I have time to take care of, and it will be glorious.
    Carrots are particularly exciting for me because there’s sandy soil here, whereas back home it’s all clay and not so friendly for root crops.

    Thanks for the post! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one longing for planting season.

  • Lisa:

    Do you have any problems with critters digging up your carrots? When we had raised beds in the front yard, we had no problems. And I’m considering putting some in the back yard in a bed that’s empty but has a nice depth of good soil. I must admit, I would find it hilarious if I saw one of the neighborhood squirrels running off with a carrot; less so, a rat.

    A couple of weeks ago we went to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, where my husband was taken by some nice, sturdy rectangular cages, which we will use for tomato starts in a couple of months. I’ve grown tomatoes for several years now and I never learn my lesson. They always look so incredibly sturdy that I decide they don’t need support. Then one morning I go out to discover they’ve collapsed under their own weight. These tomato cages can also be unhooked into individual sections, so we will use some to grow bean vines along a very barren, windowless exterior wall of our house.

    We have a sunny stretch of slope on the southeast corner of my property where I’d like to get some raspberry canes going. I understand they’re a little less invasive than blackberries. But I’ve said that for 5 years now and never gotten around to doing it. So we’ll see.

    Finally, the 13yo boychild requested pickling cucumbers, so I’ll see what happens trying to incorporate them into the existing landscaping. Can’t hurt, right? :)

  • I set a goal to grow 2,000lbs of garden goodness this summer. So I am a wee bit anxious to plant pumpkins, potatoes and giant zucchini so I don’t look like a big failure.