Sunday, May 2, 2010

Contemplating Carrots

I began this post two weeks ago and it is only now seeing the light of day. I've been playing catch up with my thesis work while resting off the last dregs of this horrible illness (seems it has been doing the rounds of the postgrads at uni, we are all in varying degrees of sickness and recovery.) Alongside this I gathered my first round of essay marking so unfortunately blog posts have seemed to go by the wayside. I wanted to talk about carrots. In fact I want to make a few points about carrots.

1. The balcony garden has plenty of carrots, and I've proved in the past that it is certainly easy to grow carrots in pots. I am careful not to over fertilise (indeed apart from whatever is in the potting mix I don't add anything else at all unless I get accidentally watering-can-friendly on the days I fertilise the rest of the garden, well we all make mistakes, particularly between 6-8 on watering days, that's just way to early for me.) However, this means that most of my carrots are a little on the small side, and perfectly, if a little twistily straight. I never get bifurcation, no rude style leg carrots or mangled looking knobbly wrecks that taste good but would never win second place in a beauty contest unless they were playing monopoly. Yet wait long enough, and you will see everything. Low and behold, my lady's legs yellow carrot!

The giggles I got when I pulled this carrot out of the pot reminded me of a book my dad was given one year as a joke. The book was a series of pictures, with cut outs, where you could place your fingers and they would resemble, arms, legs, and more risque things like bottoms and cleavage. Silly, but respectable because of the beautiful Victorian drawings. Same with the carrot. Silly giggles abound about the inferred rude nature of the yummy root vegetable, then add to that an admiring of its delicious taste.

2. I can't grow purple carrots like the farmers can. No matter what variety I grow, the purple never really gets super purple and it is mostly superficial, a ring of purple around the orange centre. No complaints about taste but when I grow purple carrots I want purpleness, kind of like the yellow ones are yellow all the way through. I sourced the purple carrots pictured below from one of the organic stalls at the Vic markets, and as luck would have it they were purple the whole way through! Absolutely delicious. Most went in salads though the remaining few that got a little soft and wilty ended up in a big pot of spaghetti sauce.

3. Coloured carrots make surprisingly good gifts. I have an academic friend who did not believe my claims of carrots other than orange. I took him one home grown yellow carrot and one of the purple carrots and he was amazed, and later told me they were delicious. Ahhhh for educating the educated.

4. I am trialling a new system with carrots. I planted a pot full of carrot seeds and in each corner added one sunflower seed. Inbetween each sunflower seed I planted a cornflower seed. Seems I havent' taken many photos of it, but from this one below I think you get the gist of it.

Now this meant I sacrificed a few carrots but it has so many benefits. These benefits were:

a) Pretty blue, white, black and hopefully pink (none have flowered pink yet) cornflowers bloom about a month or so into the growing process. This is a good signal to do the first, early, thinning of the carrot seedlings.

b) Stunning sunflowers grow up, adding height and lovely rich golden and red flowers to the mix. All mine are multiheaded and flower repeatedly for a span of over 2 months. Once they are flowering it means it is usually two months in, and time to do another thinning. This time the carrots were bigger and with the thinnings I could have a dainty pixie-sized salad.

c) We haven't hit this stage yet but once the sunflowers are finished, usually about three and a half to four months after planting, the carrots too will be ready for harvest.

d) It is companion planting at its most experimental. Yes I think the roots might affect the carrots on the edges a little but the joy I get from this combination outweighs the loss of one or two carrots. Maybe better still it might make them bifurcate and give me more victorian style giggles.

Anyway I think I might pop to the markets later and get a little fillet of salmon. Mix it with some julienned carrots from the garden and some equally julienned daikon from the garden and there you have one yummy meal. Speaking of meals, I've been taking photos of recent creations lately so I might run a small series on harvests and the kitchen. Each meal has something in it from the balcony garden. Some are basic, like fig, rocket and proscuitto sandwiches, others more complex (i.e. involve more than slapping two bits of bread together!)


Chandramouli S said...

Wow! I've never seen or tasted carrots that aren't orangish and I guess I'm gonna get this addiction from you after the tomato! BTW, what size of container you use for the combi (sunflower, cornflower, and carrots)?

Lisa said...

"Some are basic, like fig, rocket and proscuitto sandwiches" - I love that you think this is basic

Incidentally, the Diggers Club are currently selling seeds for ball carrots that they say are great for growing in case you're interested

prue said...

Hi Chandramouli - I still haven't measured the pot yet but they are quite long and quite deep, though only half as deep as say a fruit tree pot. Perhaps just think how long a carrot could reasonably grow, then make sure the pot it as deep as that. :)

Lisa - heheh it is basic, it is a sandwich. I need to get out of my pyjamas, get to the markets, and buy some more figs before they go out of season. Thumbelina carrots creep me out a little, but they are so right for container gardens I really should plant some, thanks for the heads up.