Sunday, May 11, 2014

4 reasons why you shouldn't grow carrots in your garden

Carrot and Quarter
For a carrot this big, I'd need a few people to help me finish it
Don't let my words or the article title discourage you from growing carrots. The beauty of gardening is the ability to grow any plant you like. That being said, if your garden setup is anything like mine, you have very little space to plant things. I've found that carrots do not do grow too well and tend to be difficult to manage in small gardens. Here are some reasons why planting carrots in your garden is not a wise decision.
Time/Space
According to seed packets, it takes about 70 days for a carrot to mature. It takes a while for carrots to be ready to harvest; that time and space can be better spent growing other crops. If you are going to plant carrots, it would be ideal to intercrop them with a plant like tomatoes as they can take up ground space the tomatoes won't use as they are above the ground.

Carrot Germination

I should mention that saving carrot seed is a hassle. Carrots can take more than a year before they end up going to seed. That's a whole year of waiting for more and more green shoots to emerge from the ground. Not very exciting.

Growing carrots with onion
The container I've been growing my carrots in, mixed with onions
 
Looks can be deceiving
The greens were big but the root wasn't!
Harvesting Skill
As carrots are a root vegetable, the only part of them you ever see as they are growing are the greens above the soil. You never know when your carrot is truly ready to pick. This can lead to many premature harvests (see photo). The carrot greens are no indication of taproot size. Even if you can unbury the soil above a carrot top, the visible girth is no indication of the overall carrot length (in this fashion, you'd end up with short and stubby carrots).
Rocks and other objects in the ground can cause the taproots to grow in weird, twisted shapes. It's a gamble growing them and once you pull them up, there's no putting them back into the ground.
Gnarly carrots
Cause of deformity: mostly likely transplanting.
Value
Carrots are widely grown and are readily available at nearly any grocery store or farmer's market. They don't cost too much either. Both organically grown carrots and carrots in bulk for juicing are extremely cheap per pound. Plus the roots will actually be fine and not deformed (see photo right).

Most of the time when you go shopping though, orange carrots will be the only ones available . If you have seeds for a different color carrot, say purple or white, I'd recommend using those seeds and growing the carrots.
 
Bigger carrot harvest
I don't know how this doesn't look appetizing

Taste
There are some people who simply don't like carrots. If you're not going to enjoy eating carrots (even homegrown ones), then it's better to not grow them. I wasn't a big carrot fan at first, but I soon learned to like the ones I grew, even with all the uniquely shaped taproots I pulled up from the soil. I'm not saying you shouldn't grow carrots, but I think that other plants (like Swiss Chard, lettuce, and green onions) make for better utilization of available garden space and growing time. Compared to growing vegetables like those, carrots aren't worth the time, skill, or value for attempting to grow in one's own garden.
Growing carrots
This is your garden on carrots!

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