I have a love hate relationship with carrots. For me personally that fresh sweet carroty flavour most people love, I find unpalatable. When I eat them, I prefer them raw to cooked and cannot face a whole cooked carrot or bowl of carrot soup, it is just too much carrot. I need them chopped into small rounds or sliced into thin sticks, preferably stewed till they are soft and all the flavour has been cooked out of them. As a child the only way my mum could get any of us to eat them was mashed in with potatoes. My husband and son however love them and would eat them every meal, so I bravely eat them too and as such they are a staple for us.
We could never grow enough carrots to keep us going all year round, we would need a field just for carrots. However we do grow a few rows, I don’t eat the “lovely tender, sweet, juicy, freshly lifted new carrots” but the boys do and they love them.
Carrots were brought over to England by the Dutch way back in the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 and, other than my brothers and I, the English have had a love affair with them ever since. Originally purple they were bred to be the orange colour we all know them by today for William of Orange. You can find the original purple and yellow varieties in some supermarkets but you are more likely to find them in season at a good Farmers Market. You can buy seed should you want to try them for yourself.
It was not until we tried growing them ourselves I found that carrots aren’t all the long straight roots we see in the shops. They come in short, round or stubby varieties too. They still taste carroty and I am assured by my carrot loving boys that they really taste delicious. All carrot varieties are a challenge to grow, unless you are my Father in law, who has great success year on year, but if you love them I am assured the effort is worth it and I have to say it is fun to find an 8 legged carrot in the patch.
Timings for the best crop;
- Start your seeds off between February and July.
- For an early crop grow the seeds indoors in paper pots.
- Your crop should be ready to start harvesting between May and December.
- It is possible to have fresh dug carrots for Christmas day, bear in mind the ground may be hard so check out how to store fresh carrots as an alternative.
Remember that carrots store well. If you grow enough, it is easily possible to live off them all through the winter and on till the new seasons crop comes in. If they start to get really old and unpalletable then you can always feed them to your chickens - they love raw carrots, or put them in the compost bin.
Time to enjoy carrots!