Gardening with Laurie: Fresh, homegrown carrots are best
We have almost made it through another summer. I really don't know if it's the getting older that makes a difference to me or if our summers really are getting hotter. I suppose it's a combination of both these events. Nevertheless, I think most of us are glad that fall weather is almost here.
Living in this part of the world, one doesn't notice fall changes the way you see them up north. The change from summer to fall happens very gradually. Gardeners are able to detect subtle changes in gardens.
Plants that required lots of watering in August, don't require as much attention. Hummingbirds are showing up as they migrate through our area. Many trees are starting to shed some of their leaves, and it's more comfortable working in the yard.
Usually toward the end of September, we start to notice more north winds. For the next few months, we'll usually have fairly equal hours of winds from both the north and the south. Temperatures and the humidity will start to slowly drop. All this means it's a wonderful time to garden.
Last week, I wrote about growing broccoli in fall gardens.
This week, I want to share some tips on growing carrots, which I hope many gardeners do.
Fresh homegrown carrots are so much better than store bought carrots. Carrots you buy at the store are mostly developed to look good and to better handle shipping and long storage times.
As with all homegrown vegetables, carrots fresh from the garden will be much sweeter than store-bought carrots. The sugars in store-bought carrots will have converted to a starch by the time you eat it.
In the spring, I got in a routine of juicing my fresh carrots every day. Three carrots and half an apple in the juicer every morning.
Carrots can be easily grown from seed starting the first of September. Carrots harvested during the cooler months seem to be the sweetest.
Raised beds are great for planting carrots. Add lots of compost and some of your organic granular fertilizer to the soil and till it all in. Next, rake the soil level with a stiff rake. Scatter your seeds lightly over the soil or in rows if preferred. Try to drop a couple of seeds in every square inch of allowed space. Next, use your hand to lightly tap all the seeds so they make good contact with the soil.
One of the most important things to do next is to keep the area damp for about two weeks, or at least until the seedlings are a couple of inches tall. After the carrot tops are a few inches tall, go through and thin the plants so each carrot is about an inch apart.
Usually when carrot tops are about eight inches or so tall, it will be time to start harvesting. It is easiest to harvest from a slightly damp soil than dry soil.
Fresh from the garden, rinse off and enjoy.
Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.
Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.