We planted carrot seeds in early August, and this week, we got to taste the fruit of our labor. We harvested the carrots pictured in late November, and they measure about six inches. Carrots are a very satisfying crop. With a little planning and patience, you can be enjoying home-grown carrots in 2013. In Zone 6, where we are, you can start seeds in mid-March for late June harvest. They take up to 3 weeks to germinate, so be patient, and keep the bed well watered until they germinate. Sow thinly, three inches apart, with rows several inches apart. We have had some success with the six-row seeder available at Johnny's Seeds. The six-row seeder helps alleviate the hassle of spacing out the seeds very thinly, but next year we will be trying other seeders to see which works best for us. Thin to three inches apart after about 30 days. THINNING IS MANDATORY. It may seem like a waste, but carrots need room to grow, and if you don’t thin, your carrots will BE thin. Make sure your soil is loose, fine, and free of stones. Too much organic matter can create multi-legged or hairy carrots, so go easy, but organic matter does help you get bigger carrots. Ensure that the carrots have one inch of water per week. Be adventurous with different types of seeds. We have used Napoli, Purple Haze, and Cream Delite, all with good results. Keep your bed weeded. Harvest after 70-80 days, when carrots are one half inch or more in diameter. Scrub, trim the tops off, and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will keep several weeks.
If you want to grow winter carrots for your family next year, count back 75 to 80 days before your first winter frost. We use October 5 to 10 as a first frost date, and therefore, plant carrot seeds at the end of July to the beginning of August for harvest in November through January. Once the weather turns cold, that is, freezing temperatures for prolonged periods, cover the carrots plants with ground cover fabric like agribon or use leaf mulch or straw mulch to protect the plants. Carrots develop spectacular sweetness after going through a frost, and our winter carrots taste like candy. Once the carrots reach maturity, they can be left in the ground until you are ready to harvest. In Zone 6, we take them out before February, or they become stringy. We serve winter carrots raw and plain as a treat at our Christmas gatherings. They are that good.
You went to the doctor, and the news was bad. She told you to eat more vegetables! Experts say that half your plate at each meal should be filled with fruits and vegetables. Vegetables for breakfast? Some shudder at the thought! However, eating vegetables at breakfast is a great way to get a jump on your daily vegetable intake.
Here are ten easy ways to enjoy vegetables with your breakfast.
1. Serve fried eggs with refried beans topped with fresh tomato salsa. Add fresh cilantro for an antioxidant boost, and slice some avocado on the side.
2. Add sautéed sliced zucchini, minced garlic, and sweet onions to your scrambled eggs or tofu scramble.
3. Cut an acorn squash in half and bake it, cut side down, until tender (350° for about 45 minutes). Top each half with butter, honey and chopped walnuts or pecans, and eat with a spoon right out of the shell.
4. When making home fries, add fresh red and green pepper and onions during the last five minutes of cooking. Throw in some chopped fresh parsley when the potatoes and vegetables are done.
5. Steam fresh green beans, cook up some bacon and onions and add to your home fried potatoes during the last several minutes of cooking.
6. Make zucchini pancakes instead of potato pancakes. Use your potato pancake recipe and substitute grated zucchini.
7. When you are eating out for breakfast, if you want to skip the toast, ask if the waiter you can have some sliced tomato instead.
8. Make a green smoothie. Ice, a handful of spinach, half a banana, lemon (or lemon juice), some water or fruit juice and some honey. You will not taste the spinach, even though it is green. Works well in a high power blender. There are many variations on the green smoothie idea, and they are well worth trying, especially if you dislike the taste of vegetables.
9. Use last night’s leftover vegetables in an omelet. Any combination of vegetables works.
10. Grilled vegetables, like asparagus or zucchini planks, go great with Eggs Benedict.
Hopefully these ideas will help you get creative with vegetables at your breakfast table. Enjoy!