I think that our carrots was the crop I was most excited about and most disappointed with this year. Everyone around here that gardens grows the usual corn, tomatoes, green beans and squash. Growing up, that is about all I can remember us growing when we planted a garden. After my husband and I married, we did start growing okra because his family had always grown it. But nobody I knew grew carrots or spaghetti squash. These two vegetables were my adventure this summer.
While I do love my spaghetti squash, I use carrots ALL. THE. TIME. At least we use them all the time in the winter. Carrots are in almost every soup I make except maybe chili. I thought we would grow a ton and after freezing them, I would have all the carrots I would need for the winter.
Disappointingly, I only have about enough carrots for two soups. (Sigh.) This was a learning year, but I can't help but be a bit melancholy about the whole thing. I watched the documentary To Make a Farm (which I plan on reviewing soon) and one of the farmers talked about how even if you've farmed for thirty years, that means that you've only practiced growing [insert crop here] thirty times. That's not much. Can you imagine if Peyton Manning only practiced/played football thirty times in his life?! Most people get to practice and experiment with their craft much more than the farmer or gardener. And I think this realization is part of my disappointment. So in the interest of allowing you to have a better first year, here a few things I've learned.
1. Carrots need loose soil....deep loose soil.
We tilled the soil and it was loose, but it wasn't loose deep enough. Most of my carrots were short and stubby. When carrots run into an obstacle like hard soil, rocks or another carrot, they either stop growing or they grow around. Unfortunately, it is hard to grow around hard soil.
2. Carrots really do need to be thinned.
I didn't thin my carrots early enough. Honestly, I was being greedy. I didn't want to thin them because I wanted A LOT of carrots. By the time I started to pull the carrots out to see how they coming along, they were already behind and tiny. I thinned them a bit then, but they were so close that pulling one carrot usually meant that a whole section came up. Had I thinned my carrots early on, I'm sure that I would've ended up with bigger carrots resulting in more full freezer bags. Proverbs 15:27 says that, "The greedy bring ruin to their households, but the one who hates bribes will live." I gave in to the "bribe" of a lot of carrots and didn't thin them out and we had a small harvest. Good thing my household can go to the grocery store so we won't be ruined into starvation!
3. Carrots need to be covered with soil.
I had several carrots that were peeking out of the soil which resulted in green tops. Those green tops have to be cut off and cannot be used. When you already have short carrots, a bit of your heart breaks when you have to cut off half of the carrot and throw it away.
Luckily, I've heard that carrots will grow in a fall garden, so we are going to try it. I'm not sure if we're too late or not. At least I might get a second chance this year to use my new knowledge and I will get to have a few soups this winter using our carrots. This is a learning year for the fall garden too.
If you are wondering how I froze my carrots, I used this post from The Blog Bloom.