Wednesday 13 August 2014

Carrots: Class 3

In writing my blog I have made it a point of honour to declare the failures as well as the successes of my veg plot. It's time to declare another failure...

For the last couple of years I have grown baby carrots in a couple of plastic crates positioned in a tall wooden planter, and they have given me very mixed results. Last year they were brilliant:

This year, however, things are very different. These are definitely Third Class carrots:

What a scruffy batch of carrots! It's not that they have Carrot Root Fly though. The dark bits are just where little roots have formed, trapping the compost, but they look decidedly unappetising anyway.

It took me a fair old while to make them presentable enough for us to eat. I first tried using a stiff scrubbing-brush, but that didn't work very well, so in the end I scraped them with a knife.

It was a lot of trouble, but it was worth it, because those were very tasty carrots. Looks are not everything, you know! I do not know what caused these carrots to be so small,  irregular and "bearded". I'm tempted to think it may have been the same old contaminated compost issue that affected everything else, because the plastic crates were filled with the same compost as that which I used for the beans, chillies, tomatoes etc.

Changing the subject somewhat, I want to reassure you that there are plenty of good-looking vegetables in my garden too. The Brussels Sprouts are looking particularly fine. The reason for this is undoubtedly the netting which has kept the butterflies (and hence caterpillars) away.

Many of you will have seen me write about Brussels Tops before, and know that I am a fan of them. The top of a Brussels Sprout plant is just like a cabbage, and can be used as such, though it is often discarded. It has a taste very much like the sprouts which form on the stem, and a texture like a firm cabbage. Often the tops become rather ragged by the time they come to be used, and are seen at best as a vegetable of last resort, but I'm planning their use already, so I hope they will remain in good condition.

I'm also pretty pleased with my salads, which are still going strong:

I think this is a good example of what is called "intensive cultivation". Every time a lettuce, endive or whatever is harvested, another one gets planted in the space vacated, so the bed remains permanently full. At the left as we look at it is a double row of Beetroot, and I'm picking those too now, a few at a time:

Here is the same batch, moments after being cooked:

They look blotchy as the skins quickly dry out after draining. I wish you could smell them! Such a lovely earthy aroma. I described them recently as the "Marmite" vegetable, in that just like Marmite you either love them or hate them. I know few people who are indifferent to Beetroot.

P.S. I have added a new page on my blog, labelled "Advice", which provides links to some of the posts I have written specifically to provide advice to less experienced gardeners. Please have a look...



  1. If those carrots were in my garden I would say it was nematode damage. So you all get the same kind of root knot nematodes that we do here? But then you do have the compost issue. So it seems more likely if nematodes aren't normal around there.

    And I'm in the hate them camp. I so so wish I loved them. As I love the plant. And the roots look so pretty. I always love pretty vegetables and it annoys me that I hate the taste so much.

  2. At least the carrots were still edible and I bet they actually tasted like carrots rather than those you buy from a supermarket which don't. I love beetroot, I just wish I'd got more to harvest than I do.

  3. Doesn't matter if the carrots look no good, if they have good flavor, no!?

  4. Beautiful lettuce bed - so many different varieties! And I am unfortunately on the hate side of things when it comes to beets. It's one of the few veg. that I truly dislike. Although someone did mention one variety a while ago that apparently didn't taste as "beety" - I noted it down somewhere and may give it a try at some point.

  5. Too bad about your carrots this year, but you had many other great successes! Mark, your blog uploading is giving me trouble, while no others that I open are. It has something to do with tags, it says and takes forever to process. Are others complaining? Or maybe it is just my computer; I don't know, but sometimes I have to just close it because it takes so very long.

    1. Egretta; no-one else has mentioned this, and I don't understand what the significance of tags is. Has it happened recently, or has it been like this all along?
      BTW: my maincrop carrots are much better than the little ones grown in the raised planter.

  6. It looks like you have had a bad year with this contamination, did you complain to where you bought it from? I'm lucky, there is a stables near me where I get mine from, their horses never get weed killered grass to eat so it's all fine. I think these commercial places don't leave it long enough, they just make sure the heat is enough to break it all down but that doesn't get rid of any weed killer traces, shame.
    On the other hand my carrots have been lovely but I'm at a loss with the beetroot (which I love).

    1. Liz, Yes I did complain, and I got my money refunded.

  7. Mark my carrots were very similar to yours in appearance and they were a little tough too even after cooking the beetroot however are fine

  8. We watch the Scottish programme Beechgrove Gardens which is very good. They take the politically incorrect view that no compost has yet come up to the peat based stuff. They also did an experiment on growing distances and concluded that growing plants further apart means bigger plants so if you want small cabbages you plant close and the further apart the larger the cabbage.

  9. Great looking veg. The carrots are still edible so that's a big plus in my book!

  10. I didn't bother with carrots this year as I can cheaply buy the few that I use in cooking. The flavours of beetroot though can vary wildly depending which one you grow and I've found home-grown gives me the flavour that I want. I haven't netted my winter veg and the leaves have suffered slightly so I'm going to take your lead and pop a net over the top - good advice, thanks!

  11. Oh, beetroots... I grow them also and recently made borsch. The taste was AMAZING! I truely recommend!


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