Why You Should Thin The Carrots In Your Garden – Or Not!

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Carrot Couple

Carrots are people too… Earlier this spring, I planted a variety of heirloom red carrots by seed, then waited for them to germinate.  When I checked on the young seedlings, I knew they were spaced too close together and should probably be thinned.  Carrots need space to develop into the tall straight specimens we see at the market.  Carrot seeds are almost always seeded too close together, because they are so tiny. Thinning is recommended for the first time when the plants are 4 inches tall. Remove the smallest and scrawniest plants or those that are growing right on top of one another. Ideally the plants are thinned to about a thumb’s-width apart. The carrots can also be thinned again about a month later to about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.  By then the ‘thinned’ carrots should be large enough to eat as baby carrots.  Click HERE for more tips on planting and thinning carrots.  Obviously, you can see by my lovely carrot couple that I did not do the whole thinning thing.  I would make a terrible farmer.  I have always had a problem being ‘The Decider’ and choosing which plants get to stay and which get pulled out to only become chicken scraps, so I decided to leave them alone and see what happened.  Well, when I pulled a jumbled mass of carrots out of the ground the other day, I wasn’t so sure, but then – magic!  I know that the technical term for them is really ‘Ugly Vegetables’ but I have had so much fun with them.  They have so much personality!  Meet the rest of my carrot people:

Dancing Carrots

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Cool Dude with Rad Hair and Long Earrings

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Carrot Love

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More Carrot Love

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Carrot Family

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Carrot Gang

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Carrot Snake Impersonaters

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Another Photo of My Happy Couple

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Interesting Characters AKA Ugly Vegetables

I love my carrot people, but you get to be The Decider in your garden. For those of you that have personality carrots, send me photos!  For more information on proper carrot growing, here are a few more good sources:

http://www.thompson-morgan.com/how-to-grow-carrots

http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/3510/thin-plants-for-a-healthy-crop

http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/carrots-growing-guide

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Carrot, Sweet Potato Soup with Turmeric

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CArrot Sweet Potato Soup1

Waiter, there’s turmeric in my soup!  I love soup!  It’s a meal in a bowl – easy preparation, easy clean up. One or two days with a tiny drizzle is enough incentive for me to drag out my big soup pot. There is nothing quite like a big pot of soup bubbling away to make your kitchen feel cozy and smell heavenly.   I have made carrot soup before, Carrot Coconut Soup, which I loved but I ran across a recipe for Roasted Carrot Turmeric Soup from Love and Lemons and was intrigued by the use of turmeric, that wildly popular spice touted to be the cure for whatever ails you.  I mean it’s even in my daily vitamin! So what’s the real skinny on Turmeric?

turmeric

Turmeric is in the ginger family and comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant. It’s spicy ginger-like flavor is the main ingredient in curry powder and is common in South Asian foods. Turmeric has been used for a very long time in Asia (primarily in China and India), not only for its distinctive flavor but also for it’s powerful healing properties.   We may be slow to the party but the Western World has recently ‘discovered’ the many benefits of turmeric. Why is turmeric considered so great? Can it really prevent Alzheimers, cancer and depression (among other claims) or is it all a bunch of hype? Well, turmeric might just be all that.  According to the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Turmeric contains a wide range of antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also loaded with many healthy nutrients such as protein, dietary fiber, niacin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, sodium, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc. These properties are believed to help treat a variety of conditions.  Here are 10 Health Benefits of Turmeric including prevention of cancer, liver disease and Alzheimers, controlling diabetes and relieving arthritis and more… The list is quite impressive.

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Did you know a sweet potato is not really a potato?  Shocking, I know.  It’s actually the elongated root of a vine in the morning glory family.  Who knew? Turmeric is not the only goodie in this soup.  Carrots and sweet potatoes (and other foods in the orange/yellow food group) are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and phytonutrients.  I think I’ll have another bowl of soup!

TIPS:  Try to resist the urge to peel the carrots if at all possible, since most of the nutrients are right under the skin and are lost in the peeling process.  Use a scrub brush or sponge instead and dry with a paper towel.  All veggies can be cut roughly since they will be pureed with a food processor or blender once they are soft so size doesn’t matter.  Turmeric has a beautiful bright yellow/orange color which is used in dying textiles, however, it will also dye your cutting board or food processor (or anything porous it touches), so add the turmeric and curry powder after the vegetables have been pureed.  I would recommend adding 1 teaspoon of each, taste for spiciness and then add more to taste.  This original recipe called for all vegetables to be chopped, drizzled with olive oil and roasted in the oven at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or so before pureeing which may give the soup a richer flavor, so try that if you have the time and inclination.  I was a bit short on time so opted to make this a one pot meal, easy preparation and easy cleanup, plus great results!

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CARROT SWEET POTATO SOUP WITH TURMERIC

6-8 large carrots
1 large sweet potato, or 2 small
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 teaspoons turmeric, ground
1-2 teaspoons madras curry powder
2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger (or ginger paste)
4 cups vegetable stock
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

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  • Scrub carrots instead of peeling. Roughly chop carrots and onion.

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  • Saute the onions, carrots, garlic and ginger in olive oil until the onions are translucent

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  • Peel and coarsely chop the sweet potato.  Add to the onions and carrots.

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  • Add vegetable stock, reduce heat and simmer covered for about 20 minutes.

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  • When the vegetables are fork tender, let cool slightly and process in a food processor or blender in batches until silky smooth.
  • Rinse out soup pot and return vegetable puree.  Add one or two cusp of water if needed.  Add 1 teaspoon each of turmeric and curry powder, pinch of cayenne and 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.  Taste and add more if desired.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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  • To serve top with plain or spiced yogurt or sour cream (recipe below)

 

SPICED YOGURT (optional)

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1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
a  squeeze of lemon & a bit of zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom or Chinese Five Spice
pinch of salt

  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Spicy Carrot Sweet Potato Soup with Turmeric

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

CArrot Sweet Potato Soup1

6-8 large carrots
1 large sweet potato, or 2 small
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 teaspoons turmeric, ground
1-2 teaspoons madras curry powder
2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger (or ginger paste)
4 cups vegetable stock
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  •  Scrub carrots instead of peeling. Roughly chop carrots and onion.
  • Saute the onions, carrots, garlic and ginger in olive oil until the onions are translucent
  • Peel and coarsely chop the sweet potato.  Add to the onions and carrots.
  • When the vegetables are fork tender, let cool slightly and process in a food processor or blender in batches until silky smooth.
  • Rinse out soup pot and return vegetable puree.  Add one or two cups of water if needed.  Add 1 teaspoon each of turmeric and curry powder, pinch of cayenne and 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.  Taste and add more if desired.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • To serve top with plain or spiced yogurt or sour cream (recipe below)

SPICED YOGURT (optional)

1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
a  squeeze of lemon & a bit of zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom or Chinese Five Spice
pinch of salt

  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate until needed.


Turmeric Photo Credit:  http://www.sweetartichoke.com