This was the first year in a few years that I was actually able to plant my own garden, so I went all out and planted to my heart's content - tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, beans, peas, lettuce, spinach, kale, zucchini, and CARROTS :)
Although several of my vegetables did fairly well, my carrots were one that grew exceptionally well with very minimal effort. I planted my carrot seeds directly into a raised outdoor garden bed on June 1st (with fairly loose soil), watered them daily for their first month, occasionally thinned them out, and then I pretty much left them alone until I decided to pull some up in mid-August.
I've personally always found carrots to be a pretty easy vegetable to grow since you don't need to start them months ahead of time: You can just plant their seeds directly into the ground a couple of weeks before your last frost (or as soon as the threat of frost is over). Carrots can take 2 to 3 1/2 months (depending on the variety and conditions), so if you're wanting an earlier crop, of course you can start your seeds indoors (or inside your greenhouse) and transplant them outside later. For starting vegetables ahead of time, I've personally used soil-block makers with much success - they're extremely easy to use and they make transplanting simply effortless.
If you're stocking up on plenty of non-GMO seeds for your survival stash (a very good idea!), carrot seeds are great ones to get. They are such a hearty, nutritious vegetable that can be prepared and used in a number of ways, and fresh carrots taste SO much better than frozen or canned (I personally do not like either).
You can always add carrots to your soup or stew, cook them in with your roast and potatoes, or just munch on them raw; however, if you don't normally like carrots, I'd like to share three of my favorite recipes with you. Even if you aren't a very big fan of carrots, I think you really might enjoy one of these variations. My first recipe is a quick, soft side-dish that can compliment any meal, my second recipe will give you a simple, crunchy snack that you can always keep on-hand in your fridge, and my third recipe is a unique, flavorful, & colorful crisp/tender side-dish.
Before any recipe, obviously you need to pick your carrots from the garden, take off the [highly nutritious] stems (save for your salad or green smoothie!), and then clean your carrots well. If you don't already have one, I think it's quite essential to have a nice vegetable brush to help you scrub.
Recipe 1: "SUNNY CARROTS"
I think the name suites them! They look like little circles of sunshine as they cook on the stovetop until soft enough to eat.
COMBINE the following in a small pot and COOK over medium heat until carrots are tender:
2 to 2 1/2 c. carrots (peeled and cut into circles)
1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sweet basil
1/8 tsp. dill weed
Recipe 2: "PICKLED REFRIGERATOR CARROTS"
I LOVE THESE!!
(no photos since I'm currently out of garlic. I'll post photos here the next time I make them)
* Fill a pint jar halfway with carrot slices or carrot chips
* Add onions if desired (I don't)
* Add HALF of the following ingredients:
1 tsp. dill weed (so.... add 1/2 tsp. for now)
1 Tbl. salt (so.... add 1 1/2 tsp. for now)
1/2 tsp. sugar (so.... add 1/4 tsp. for now)
1 large clove of garlic, sliced (so.... add 1/2 sliced garlic clove for now)
* Fill the rest of the jar with carrot slices or carrot chips
* Add the remaining half of the ingredients (1/2 tsp. dill weed, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. sugar, and 1/2 sliced garlic clove)
* Boil 1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. distilled white vinegar together (your house will smell like vinegar!)
* Pour over carrots
* Put lid on jar. Shake. Let cool at room temperature. (Jar does not need to seal, but it may seal on it's own)
* Refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving
* Store in refrigerator. Will keep for several weeks refrigerated
NOTE: I normally DOUBLE the recipe and use a QUART jar. Doubling the recipe requires enough carrot slices to fill a quart jar, plus a total of : 2 tsp. dill weed, 2 Tbl. salt, 1 tsp. sugar, 2 large cloves of garlic (sliced), 1 c. water, and 1 c. vinegar. Since you split the ingredients, at the halfway point (and again at the end) you only add: 1 tsp. dill weed, 1 Tbl. salt, 1/2 tsp. sugar, and 1 large clove of sliced garlic.
Recipe 3: "CARROT PARSNIP STIR-FRY"
This recipe tastes amazing!
It does take a little time to julienne the carrots & parsnips, but its worth it... You can substitute rutabagas or turnips if parsnips aren't available.
(I will post photos the next time I make it)
1 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled & julienned
1/4 c. butter
2 pounds carrots, julienned
2 Tbl. minced dried onion
In large skillet, sauté parsnips in butter for 3-4 minutes. Add carrots & onion; cook and stir until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 10-15 minutes. If you want to cook them longer, they are also very good quite well-cooked, almost browned.
NEED SOME HELP GROWING YOUR CARROTS?
Here are a couple links that may help you out:
LEARN MORE ABOUT NON-GMO SEEDS & WHERE TO PURCHASE THEM:
Excellent Non-GMO Seed Suppliers:
1) Seed Savers Exchange - SeedSavers.org
2) Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds - RareSeeds.com
3) Clear Creek Heirloom Seeds - ClearCreekSeeds.com
"How to Keep Monsanto Out of Your Garden" - http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/where-to-buy-non-gmo-seeds
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