Carrot "Ox Heart" (EN)
Help your December plants grow fat and crunchy!
Here's what's ahead:
Quick tips at a glance:
- Germination temperature: 6-10 ° C
- Germination time: 14–40 days
- No-till sowing outdoors: March – June
- No-till in a cold room: January – March
- Location: sunny to partially shaded
- Loose, nutrient-rich soil
- Root depth: 30 cm
- Row spacing: 30 cm
- Distance between plants: 2-4 cm
- Sowing depth: 1–2 cm
- Watering type: moderate feeder
- Thinning: as soon as the first proper pair of carrot leaves has formed (you only need to worry about this if you are unable to provide distance between plants)
Yes, it may look a bit on the tubby side, but the “ox heart” carrot doesn't look like this because he ate too many biscuits this holiday season. (That was us…maybe…) That's just how he was made: small and fat, and very sweet and tasty. Due to his short roots, this carrot does not need too much space below the surface. This makes him an absolutely ideal companion for your balcony or windowsill.
So let's get started with your December seeds from The Growable Calendar.
If you fancy, you can sow this variety in a greenhouse or outdoor enclosure from March onwards. For sowing outdoors, you can start direct sowing at the beginning of June. Just be sure that your plants enjoy a temperature range of 6-10°C for germination, after which they can hang out in a warmer environment.
If we are looking for a wintry windowsill pal, planting directly in a pot is also possible in January. We'll need a cool, bright space for planting in a pot. A plant lamp will give the seedlings some of the additional light they need. Again, your plants will need to germinate in a temperature of 6-10°C at first. If it is not possible to provide these conditions in your indoor or outdoor climate options, it would be best to wait until mid-January or early-February, also using a plant lamp, to make sure your young plants can get enough solar energy to grow.
If you have very heavy, loamy soil, you should loosen it several days before sowing and remove the weeds. You should then enrich it with ripe compost and, if necessary, some sand.
Here's what you need:
- Pot or balcony box with drainage hole, depth approx 30 cm
- Potting soil with compost
- Fine watering can
- Loosen the soil a little in the field and enrich it with compost
In a pot: Fill your pot with potting compost and use your finger to make 1–2 cm deep holes 2–4 cm apart in the soil. Now you distribute the seeds on the holes and close them again.
In a bed: Place the snippets at a distance of 2–4 cm either in prepared, moistened grooves (distance 30 cm, depth 1–2 cm), or press the seeds into the loose soil at the appropriate distance. You can do the same if you are using a balcony box.
Why sow in a row? Not just for the phat rhymez, yo. After a while, you can distinguish the small, green seedlings from weeds more easily when you plant them this way.
Water everything well and keep it moist for the next few weeks so that your carrots do not dry out during germination. However, do not muddy the earth either, otherwise the roots will not be able to grow deeply.
Pre-germination possible: If you want to shorten the germination time of the seeds a little, put them in a glass with water or in a bag with moist sand in a warm place before sowing. The first white germ tips appear after just a few days. Now you can distribute the sand or water evenly in the seed grooves or in your pots and cover with 1–2 cm of soil.
Thinning / Separation
If you aren't able to plant at a distance of 2–4 cm, or if too many seeds are sprouting next to each other, you may have to thin out the carrots a bit. This simply means removing plants that are too close together.
Pro-tip: if you are planting in a bed, do your thinning in rainy weather so as not to attract carrot flies.
Pro-tip #2: you can also harvest the excess carrots as soon as a small root has formed - the baby carrots taste particularly sweet and tender when raw. But that only works if they grow at least 1 cm apart. Otherwise you might take out an innocent little seedling in the process. Sadface.
Sometimes carrots can be little divas.
The soil should be loose, but also rich in nutrients. This guy likes it sunny, but he doesn't want to stand in the scorching heat all day either, otherwise his fresh, green hair-do will collapse or his chic orange outfit will start to fade. He needs enough space to grow upwards as well as downwards is a matter of course. Think carrot yoga.
Good and Bad Neighbours
Good: dill, leek, onion, peppermint, radishes, radish, lettuce, tomato, peas (just be sure to loosen the soil a bit)
Bad: beetroot, celery
Diseases and Pests
Against the carrot fly: pile up soil, cover with a net, choose a windy location; only grow carrots in the same bed again after 3 years.
Planting onions alongside your carrots as bed neighbours will also help to keep the carrot fly away.
A mechanical sheet metal barrier or a protective ring made of coffee grounds around the bed help against voracious snails.
Care for Your Carrots
- Keep them moist by careful watering until germination.
- After germination, water only when it is dry, otherwise the roots will burst. You can check the moisture in the soil with your finger to see if they are getting thirsty.
- If you planted in a deeper device, you'll want to water a bit more frequently.
- No fertilisation necessary.
- Pile earth around the heads of the carrots to prevent them from turning green. Tuck those babies in tight!
- Remove weeds by hand so as not to damage the roots.
- Rake or hoe regularly between rows.
- Thin, air-permeable layers of mulch will help keep the soil moist and loose.
Harvest and Storage
- As soon as the orange turnip peeps out of the ground, she is ready for harvest.
- The bigger the roots get, the more intense their taste. Yum!
- Early baby carrots are sweeter and milder.
- Carefully loosen the soil with a spade and pull out the head by its green part.
- Harvest as needed.
- If you find that some carrots are wrinkly, just put them in a glass of water for a few hours, then they will get crispy again.
- For stews, you can also freeze your carrots for safe keeping.
The ox heart variety is particularly suitable carrot for storage. If you have any carrots left, you can store them in a tub filled with sand in a cool space like a cellar. Just be sure to take off the green bits beforehand, so they don't dry out.
Of course, no stew can call itself a stew if it doesn't have carrots in it. And a good Bolognese sauce can't do without the boiled roots of your new orange buddies. Actually, they give all kinds of dishes a sweet and warm note.
One of our favourite – and most unique – recipes that we love to make from ox heart carrots is sure to spice/sweeten up your winter gatherings: winter pumpkin curry!
Here's what you need you make it:
- 1 small pumpkin
- 3 medium-sized carrots
- 2 small onions
- 1 small piece of ginger
- 1 clove of garlic
- Oil for frying
- Curry powder or curry paste
- 1 bottle of cooked tomatoes or 1 can of chunky tomatoes
- 1 can of coconut milk, heavy cream or plant-based cream
- Salt and other spices of your choosing (allspice, cardamom, cumin, ...)
- Fresh or frozen coriander greens
- Juice of one lime
- Optional: cashew nuts
Now for the preparation:
- Peel the pumpkin, depending on its variety, and cut into small pieces (side length approx. 1.5 cm). Cut the carrots into slices.
- Finely dice the onions, chop the ginger and garlic very finely.
- Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onions, curry paste and spices. Add the pumpkin and carrots, season with plenty of salt, and add a little heat.
- Brown the vegetables whilst stirring, and deglaze with wine or water (if you are deglazing with vegetable stock, add less salt).
- After the alcohol has evaporated, add the tomatoes and add enough liquid to cover everything.
- Now it's time for ginger and garlic.
- Depending on the size of the vegetable pieces, let them simmer for approx. 10 minutes with the lid closed, checking the cooking point in between.
- Add coconut milk or cream and season to taste. Add seasonings of your choice, for example salt, curry, allspice etc, to taste.
- Finally, stir in the lime juice, coriander greens and optional cashew nuts to taste. Serve with basmati rice.
And for something you can make year-round:
A carrot and parsnip salad will bring a little freshness both in wintry times as well as in the spring and summer seasons. Simply grate the carrots and parsnips finely, add the vinegar and oil and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and fresh herbs.
And if you want to go waaaay down the rabbit hole, you can purée your carrot greens with olive oil, salt, pine nuts and parmesan to make a great pesto. *Italian-chef fingertip kiss*
So let's talk about carrots! What do YOU love about this vegetable? From the growing to the enjoying, tell us in the comments below about your experience growing these seeds!