Monday, June 8, 2009
Coarse and hairy with a woody core is an apt description of one of my exes. Interestingly, it also describes carrots that have spent their formative days in soil with too much nitrogen in it.
You'll notice the carrots in the photo have small-ish hairs on them, meaning the soil from whence they came was relatively well-balanced. Now, if you really want to see carrots gone wild, check out these hirsute roots.
Would you want to eat a carrot that looks like it's wearing a moth-eaten fur coat? Neither would I. Even when you peel away the pelt, you still have to deal with the unpleasant corky texture of the vegetable. No amount of cooking will save it--unless it is being cooked in a compost pile.
Proper growing conditions and nutrition will prevent your carrots from getting all hairy and forked up (poor nutrition also causes roots to fork and do other odd things).
Carrots grow best in cooler temperatures (55 to 70-degrees Fahrenheit), in deep, loose, well-draining, and lightly alkaline soil; seeds should be planted 1/4-inch deep. They like more water than you might think, and take it personally if you're stingy with the wet stuff.
Give them a fertilizer that has twice as much phosphorous and potassium as it does nitrogen, such as a 5-10-10. Give them a dose of fertilizer at the time of seeding, and again when the tops are about three to four inches tall. And start harvesting when they are about the width of your finger--of course that will vary with hand size, so use your best judgement.
If all goes well, you will have plenty of carrots to use in your favorite recipes. What? You don't have any favorite carrot recipes? Well,then, here are a few of mine from epicurious.com:
Pickled Carrot Sticks
Cumin and Orange Glazed Carrots
Savory Cabbage, Carrot and Apple Salad
Steamed Carrots and Mint