This may look like a simple bunch of carrots. But these wonderous pointy specimens are an artifact. An artifact of my learning.
Every forking time I grew carrots, they were completely forked. In two countries, in different soils. Absolutely forking forked. Looking like some sort of twisted mandrake root destined to be thrown screaming into a medieval apothecary’s cauldron while he chants ancient incantations into his decantations . (ok, may have taken that analogy a little too far).
So I gave up, on carrots. But then had so much other vegetable success. It didn’t make sense. I just clearly had not met their basic needs.
But I really love carrots. My children really love carrots. The perfect carrots in large bunches that I bought weekly at the farmers market, mocked me with their tasty and straight perfection.
I started to talk to carrots, think like a carrot. Become the carrot.
No, what I did was read and read. About carrots. I filtered the information. Collated the experiments of the fruitful forkless. Watched videos of people growing carrots in PVC pipes.
And I took all this, and finally, from out of the deep earth, via seed cast from my hands emerged, to my almost tearful delight (I think a bit of the smoke from the apothecary’s cauldron got in my eye) these incredible specimens were harvested in the cold winter twilight, kissed with steamed and scoffed for dinner tonight.
As so many others have also commented that they too are having to deal with forking carrots, here’s how it worked for me.
The best carrot seeds you can find (I used heirloom varieties)
If you have soil issues (mine is shallow and rock hard) and even if you have rich lovely soil in raised beds like I now do, still consider deep pots. You really want deep deep soil that a long point thing can grow through without resistance. So, you are seeking sand-like consistency with NO bits of stones or compacted soil. Almost sifted. I filled my pots mostly with sand, mixed with a little bit of potting mix, fine seedling mix and some worm castings because I had some. Forked carrots are usually meeting some sort of obstacle. Just like brilliantly bendy cucumbers that grow around corners.
Sow according to the packet directions but really carefully in pots not to crowd, as you have a small surface area . In pots, if you are growing long large carrots, you will definitely need to remove some of the carrots that start to grow too close together. However, baby carrots are wonderful, so if you wait long enough, you can take a first harvest of your biggest carrots, as baby carrots to eat, and leave the rest with space to grow into bigger carrots. This is where I am now, my first harvest from the pot.
Keep the seeds lightly watered for the first few days, but try to time for periodic rain (this has been the case in autumnal Adelaide) or aim to mimic periodic rain if you feel you have to water. Have the pots somewhere where the rain can fall, and hold back on the watering. Neglect them, although you may worship their leafy growing tops. Urge them on to grow deeply to reach the water deeper below in the soil. Just completely neglect them, in a caring way.
That’s all I did. It worked…this time. It won’t be the last time.
And a postnote. Forked carrots still taste forking good! We should all be eating ugly vegetables, because they are food, and I would happily eat a plate of oddly shaped vegetables, but if you want to gift or serve your carrots to others, the long carrot comes in handy.