I love growing carrots and I love including them in our meals and snacks, plus my chickens enjoy the carrot tops. The best, crunchiest, sweetest carrots I have eaten are always homegrown, which is why I enjoy including them in both my spring and fall gardens. Growing carrots is usually pretty easy as long as I remember to be patient.
As I have done for several seasons, I grow a few different varieties of heirloom carrots – Muscade, Parisienne, Purple Sun, and St. Valery – for varying sizes and colors. This year I planted about six square feet of raised-bed garden space with these assorted carrots.
In my experience, and the seed packet directions, carrots take a really long time to germinate – somewhere around 21 days give or take. Along with this long germination time, the seeds need to be kept moist but not soggy. They do not like to dry out at all, yet they will rot if kept too wet. In addition, once they do sprout, growth is really slow to start, but at some point – a couple of weeks or so – they begin growing like crazy. Finally, after about three months, I can begin to harvest these tasty roots.
My garden soil is a mix of standard raised-bed mix with lots of compost and chicken manure, which holds moisture well, but also drains well. I feed the carrots and other veggies every three or four weeks with an organic fertilizer – currently a fish emulsion and seaweed blend, and I spray them with a solution of Epsom salts and water (1 teaspoon Epsom salts to 4 cups warm water). Once actual growth is happening, I mulch the carrots with straw, and water once a day on warm days (80 degrees F and higher), and every other day when temperatures are cooler.
This year’s spring-planted carrot yield looks like it will be enough to keep us in fresh carrots for much of the summer. One of my favorite ways to enjoy carrots is to sauté them along with other garden veggies such as snow peas and zucchini. I was also able to process about 24 cups of sliced carrots for the freezer, which will be used in the fall and winter for soups and stews.
Procedure for Freezing Carrots
1. Wash carrots and trim off the ends; no need to peel.
2. Cut carrots to desired size, but be consistent.
3. Bring a stockpot of water to a boil.
4. Place carrots in boiling water.
5. Return water and carrots to boiling and then set timer for 3 minutes.
6. After 3 minutes submerge carrots in cold water to quickly cool them and stop the cooking process.
7. Put desired amount of carrots into freezer containers, Ziploc bags, or food saver bags.
8. Place in freezer for later use.
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