Growing carrots is fun and easy. I asked Aunty Chrystal who used to run the Haiku School Garden for some advice: “Carrots will grow year round on Maui, but they like cooler soil so spring and fall is a great time to plant. Winter and summer is doable, but it may be trial and error depending on weather or flooding.
When we plant carrots we plant them in 1/ 4 inch deep trenched rows a foot apart. Line the dampened soil trench with the seeds, then cover. We want to plant carrot seeds in damp soil and then gently mulch to retain moisture. Mulching also prevents the soil getting too hot from the sun.
Once the carrots have germinated and are an inch tall, thin them out so that they stand 3 inches or so apart. After thinning you can also mulch a little more.
Carrots, depending on size, take about three months to grow full size. At the school kids loved growing carrots. The only challenge was waiting to pick them until they are big enough or picking them and getting baby carrots. To help with this you can start rows at different intervals (we did three weeks apart) so we could harvest continuously.”
You can buy great organic carrot seeds at Mana Foods, as well as, Ace Hardware in Kula, which also has a nice selection of soil amendments.
Carrots freshly picked and washed are great raw or cooked in a delicious recipe like the one below:
Carrot & Cilantro Soup
Preparation and cooking time: 40 minutes
• 25g (1oz) butter
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 1 garlic clove, crushed
• 550g (1 1/4lb) carrots, of which
• 450g (1lb) roughly chopped
• 110g (4oz) coarsely grated
• 1 3/4 pints vegetable stock
• A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
• 1/4 pint single cream or coconut milk (full fat)
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 pint yoghurt
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Melt the butter and cook the onion and garlic gently until soft in a covered saucepan, without coloring.
Add the roughly chopped carrots, stock and nutmeg. Cover, bring to boil and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender.
Cool a little, then puree in a blender.
Return the soup to a clean saucepan and stir in grated carrots, cilantro and cream.
Taste for seasoning.
Serve garnished with a swirl of yoghurt and sprinkling of chopped fresh cilantro
This recipe was created by Andrew Palmer the founder of the New Covent Garden Soup Company. This was the first fresh soup they ever made and is still the most popular.
(Feel free to substitute dairy with coconut products for a vegan option)
P.S. Carrot greens can also be eaten and do not need to be discarded. They are delicious and loaded with nutrients.
Image Credit: Emma Whitney Photography