The Carrots are Enjoying This Weather

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The winter season in Houston is great for carrots.

I am glad that my carrots are happy with this weather, because many other plants are not. I do like that the nardinia has those bright red berries to add a splash of color in the bushes. The violas and the violets, along with the cyclamen, have brightened my days as well. My two little girls are happy with these flowers. Both still have the habit of strewing flower petals all over the floors of the home.

The pitfalls of growing carrots.

    This week, I decided to harvest some carrots, which have become a nice size. These are ones that I had planted earlier in the fall. One issue that I am facing though is that some carrots have already been harvested. I do not know which animal has been going after my carrot crop, but this vegetable appears to be a favorite. My dog loves carrots, and he frequently pulls them out to munch on. I have been keeping the gate locked to the vegetable where the carrots are located, so he could not get back there. I am not sure that it was all him, but the carrot harvesting stopped after that action was taken. I think that next year I will place a chicken wire cage over the carrots to prevent accidental harvesting. The fronds will grow through the cage, covering it up.
    Another thing to remember with carrots is soil preparation. With our heavy clay content in Houston, carrots have a hard time growing full. In the past, I had tried a trick that I had learned from some farmers. They created a bed of leaves covered by soil. This is not bad for root vegetables, because the vegetables can expand to their full size without a struggle with the soil. I have had mixed results with this method. The leaves hold the water, which causes root  rot. In Peru, farmers use a layer of leaves under the plants to create a water storage area for their plants. I always mix the leaves with soil or compost or peat, but I can have too much water staying by the plants. This year I mixed compost, peat, and soil. This has proven to be the best mix for the carrots. I did dig a deep trench, placing some leaves in the bottom, then filling the trench with my soil mix. I did add a standard organic soil mix from the store to the soil. I placed the carrot seeds about three inches apart. I do not know the suggested distance, but three inches has worked for me.

How do you prepare carrots?

    I am always surprised that people do not eat the leaves from the carrots. I use them like parsley. They go into salads, pastas, pestos, potato dishes, or where ever else parsley may have been used. (The parsley is doing well in the garden too, but I like changing up what I use). As for the root, I thought to prepare them in two ways. My galanga and ginger are dormant in a bed across from the carrots. I dug up some ginger for a stir fry with the carrots. I also harvested a small bunch of green onions. I used the carrot root and leaves for the stir fry, which had a little left over chicken in it. My favorite method for preparing carrots is to slowly cook them in a pan. I prefer doing this with a nut oil (walnut oil has a great flavor), but the baby cannot have anything related to buts just yet. I heat the oil on a low flame with some cloves, fennel seeds, and all spice. Once the aroma of the spices fills the air, I add sliced carrots, tossing everything in the pan. I leave this on a low flame to cook slowly. I remove the cloves and all spice before serving. This went great with a chicken dish that I made.

   Do you brine your chicken?

I have been brining my chicken before cooking them lately, and this has added a lot of flavor to the meals. One day, I brined them over night, which I found to be too salty for my taste. On the day with the carrots, I placed chicken thighs in the brine four hours before cooking. The brine was made with enough salt to make the water taste like sea water. I added a little sugar to see what might happen. After removing the thighs from the brine, I patted them dry with a paper towel. I dusted them with flour that had been mixed with paprika, turmeric, and garlic powder. I pan fried them lightly to add color, then I completed the cooking process in a 350 degree F oven (about a half hour). I served this with rice that had coconut flakes added. The family loved the meal.

What I will do next year is grow more carrots. I lost half my crop to the unknown
assailant (the dog is looking pretty guilty, but you never know). My older daughter has a thing for pickles. She snacks on them all the time. I thought that I could make refrigerator pickles with carrots and maybe some other root vegetables during this season as a quick snack.

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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