The whole idea of growing your own veggies is to get carrots, tomatoes or beans that are better looking, fresher and tastier than what's available for you to buy. It's a nice thought; unfortunately, it's not always the case.
Don't misunderstand - it is always better to grow your own produce, but the results may sometimes be a little less appealing to the eye. For example, home grown carrots are often misshapen and bear little resemblance to their store-bought, factory-perfect counterparts.
How to grow straight carrots?
While your home grown carrots may be bent, forked, contorted and hairy, they will taste just as good as, if not better than, commercially farmed carrots even though they may be difficult to peel and look slightly unattractive on the plate.
If you are longing to grow beautiful, straight carrots, here are a few tips and tricks you can try at home:
1. Growing carrots from fresh seeds
Transplanting carrot seedlings is the number one cause of mis-shapen carrots. Sow fresh seeds in rows directly where you want them to grow in your garden.
2. Sowing carrot seeds
Mix carrot seeds with a small volume of sand or use a seed tape (seeds evenly spaced and enclosed in a biodegradable tape that you roll out along the seed furrow) to ensure seeds are well spaced to avoid over-crowding.
When carrots are sown too closely and seedlings are not thinned out enough, they crowd one another causing them to bend, curl and twist around each other. Give each seedling enough space to grow without interference from its neighbours.
3. Preparing the soil for carrots
Carrots (and other root vegetables) are best grown in soil that was last fertilised for a previous crop. Too much fertiliser or manure can cause carrots to grow excessive 'hair' (fine roots) and be contorted.
The main steps to preparing the soil are:
- Dig the soil to a depth of at least 30cm.
- Break the soil up so it is a fine, even texture - remove any large clods, rocks or anything else that could affect the developing carrot.
- In heavy loam or clay, add in some horticultural sand to lighten the texture and make it easier for carrots to push through the soil.
- Sow into a soil that has recently produced an above-ground crop - do not apply more manure or fertiliser.
Accept that curly or straight, home-grown carrots taste great!