The Charming Carrot

Carrots are best in October

A carrot’s versatility means they are symbolic of the change in seasons. They spend the summer bringing a freshness when grated raw into salads, which turns to providing hearty autumnal joy in roasts and casseroles.

Carrots can be grown most of the way through the year, however it’s in late autumn when they really take centre stage. Having spent the last few months stoically gathering strength from the Earth, the swollen roots are ready to be lifted out of the ground in a flourish of orange – just in time to refine your night vision ahead of the dark winter months!

The Charming Carrot is our vegetable for October.



Carrots are one of the most fuss-free vegetables to grow.

Sow the seeds in nice, neat rows, or scatter them evenly if you are growing in pots. Cover with 1cm of soil and water in lightly. Seeds can be sown anytime from early spring to late august.

When the seedlings are a few cm tall, ‘thin’ them so you have a plant spacing of ~2cm. Choose the smallest looking seedlings to pull out, and be careful not to damage the others while you do it. Do this again when the seedlings are 5-10cm tall to a final plant spacing of ~5cm.

It always seems really harsh pulling out healthy seedlings, but it is necessary to give the remaining plants the space they need to thrive. If you are really careful while thinning, you could transplant the seedlings you pulled out to a new row or pot.

Carrot Seedlings in the sun


Harvesting Carrots is a bit like playing the lottery – you just don’t know what you’re going to pull out!

After around 3-4 months growing, they are usually perfect. You can sometimes see the orange top of the root poking out, which can give a good indication. If it’s ~1 inch in diameter then it should be ready.

Harvest by holding the base of the leaves and gently pulling and wiggling the carrot out of the soil. If it’s stuck in, you may need to dig it out – don’t pull too hard as you can snap the root and leave your carrot buried underground. If the first couple are still very small, you can leave the rest for in the soil to continue to grow. Be sure to get them out before the first frost though as that can ruin them.


Where to start with carrots… they can be eaten and enjoyed in so many ways!

Carrots form an essential crudité (or ‘sticks of raw veg’ in normal words) and lend themselves perfectly to scooping up dips such as hummus or guacamole.

Jamie's Whole Baked Carrots

The real prize of carrots though is their sweetness, particularly for fresh ‘baby’ ones. This can be brought out by roasting. Take a look at Jamie Oliver’s ‘Best Whole Bake Carrots’ Recipe. And don’t be afraid to experiment with the seasoning – harissa, thyme, honey, cumin, rosemary (the list goes on) all work too!

Finally, how about making use of some of the carrot tops?

Tom Hunt (Author of Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet) has a pesto recipe that does just that. Using a food processor, blend 25g carrot tops, 25g fennel tops/other green herbs, 1 small garlic clove, 75ml Olive Oil, ¼ lemon (zest and juice), 1 tsp hazelnuts until you have a rough but even texture and use/store as you would a basil pesto.

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