Did your garden adventure in growing carrots turn into a horticultural Who Dunnit? If your lovingly planted, watered and thinned carrot seedlings grew into twisted, hairy root vegetables that you couldn't bring home to mom, don't despair. Fixing crooked carrots and carrots with hairy roots isn't all that hard once you know what the problem is. So, here are some tips to help you grow the pretty carrots you crave.
What Causes Crooked Carrots and Split Roots
Crooked carrots with split roots can make novice gardeners reluctant to share their garden treats, especially since with a handful of key caveats, growing carrots is actually quite easy. One thing that carrot seedlings don't like, however, is obstacles. Because they're persistent and determined vegetables, carrots will twist, turn, split and wend their way around most obstacles, resulting in crooked, twisted carrots that don't look so pretty on a plate.
So, if you're hoping to grow the straight, perfect root veggies you see in the stores, keep your garden soil free of rocks, pebbles and other obstructions. No obstacles means no unsightly tap root detours.
Why Are My Carrots Hairy?
If you have hairy carrots covered in fine roots, your soil is too fertile. So stop fertilizing for at least one growing season and let your vegetables use up the excess nutrients in your garden soil. While I'm not aware of any nutritional issues with hairy carrots, they are a little creepy (honestly, I just don't like the way they feel in my hands), and (in my experience) they seem to rot a bit faster than "normal" carrots.
If your carrots are twisted and curled around one another, it simply means that you're growing them too close together. This is a pretty common problem because carrot seeds are devilishly tiny and difficult to properly space.
Personally, I think twisted carrots can be kind of fun in their own random, wacky way, and I like how a little overcrowding of carrot seeds can give you adorable, snuggable, hugging carrots like these or ugly, twisted carrots like these. (Obviously, it's a bit of gamble.) If you're serious about keeping your carrots on the straight and narrow, however, try seed tape, thinning and seed spacer tools.
For other tips on growing these tasty root vegetables, check out this article on How to Grow Carrots. Or, for more in-depth information, check out the Gardening Guides page for carrot-cultivating specifications and other gardening resources.