Tag Archives: self-suffiency

Forking carrots

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)

Soil and…pots

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.

Urban food forest

Two weeks to go until the baby emerges into the big wide world and I’m reading a lot about gardening, permaculture and dreaming lots about backyard farming — primarily because even walking is a physical challenge at the moment. Even tending the tomatoes is getting a little tricky but luckily our 3.5 year old eats so many, they don’t stay ripe on the vine for long anyway. : )  There is so much I want to do in the garden, but I’m trying to be happy with planning, reading and dreaming about it.

I found this beautiful site called Adventures in Urban Sustainability which is a very inspiring record of one couple and their attempt to create a food forest in a normal backyard in the suburbs near Wollongong, NSW.

Seeing what you can achieve in a normal block made me really happy and excited. Leaving our 20 acre farm felt like a step backwards in my ideal of living sustainability – but I’m really beginning to see that our ‘normal’ house,  the timing of moving here, my time off work with our second baby imminent has really created this massive opportunity that I’m not likely to get again. It’s an opportunity to do some really proper planning and design around creating a garden that’s about living  and playing space and growing food.

Our house already has solar panels, rainwater, solar hot water and a blank canvas back garden with lots of food growing potential. Already we have dramatically reduced our energy use and reliance on cars compared to the costs of maintaining our farm on the hill.

So, we’re actually ‘greener’ for having moved nearer to town without much effort on our part. It fascinates me to think of what we can achieve when we ramp things up with proper effort.

I definitely miss being surrounded by trees and wildlife- and the ‘feeling’ of living an alternative lifestyle on the farm on the hill – but in terms of living life in a way that is better for the planet – it should be less about the aesthetics and image of where you live – and more about the practical and efficient use of the space in our immediate environment.

Back to the dreaming and planning for now….