Last season my carrots were so deformed they looked like something from a sci-fi film; Denis Villeneuve would have been proud of them.
Deformed carrots can be forked, lumpy, or impaired due to various issues. Although the centre of these carrots can grow woody and slightly bitter, they are ordinarily edible. In reality, many mini carrots sold as treats are simply whittled-down malformed carrots.
These odd-shaped carrots can also be a sign of severe garden problems. But what causes these deformed carrots?
3 Causes of Deformed Carrots
While you can’t straighten a twisted carrot, you can learn how to prevent deformities and create great carrots in your next growing season.
I’ll go through nine reasons for malformed carrot roots and how to avoid them.
Carrot roots are susceptible to soil conditions as they grow. Its growing tip will detect any obstacles and alter its direction accordingly.
Carrots are also particularly sensitive to nitrogen and react to it in ways most gardeners would not appreciate. So, to give your crop the greatest possible start, you’ll need to start with your soil.
If you start with compacted or heavy clay soils, your fall harvest will be a modest crop of short, stumpy carrot roots.
So, avoid walking on your planting rows or beds to keep the soil loose. Instead, limit your walking to between rows or around beds.
If you start with compacted or heavy clay soil, enhance it by adding some compost and sand into the soil before you plant.
You’ll need loose soil to the same depth as the mature carrots you plan to grow. You’ll need 12 inches of loose dirt if you develop 12-inch roots.
If unsure about your soil type, try conducting a soil test.
Too Much Nitrogen
Many of your garden plants require a lot of nitrogen to flourish. This is not the case with carrots.
This implies that only use well-aged manure when fertilizing this crop with dung. Fresh manure has greater nitrogen, which promotes root branching, forking, and hairiness.
This takes us to another reason for odd-shaped carrot roots: overcrowding plants.
Carrot seeds are often seeded in large quantities due to their poor and sluggish germination rates.
Seedlings should be trimmed when they are 3-4 inches tall to avoid twisty-turn vegetables.
Weeds contain underground roots that can interfere with development and compete for nutrition, as proximity to other carrots can induce twisting and branching. If you are new to allotments, the ground needs to be thoroughly cleared before planting – or use raised beds.
Keep your beds weeded during the growing season to prevent weeds from interfering with your root produce.
Otherwise, instead of growing straight, they twist around each other.
In Summary: How to Fix a Carrot Deformity
You cannot correct a carrot deformity once it has developed. The best offence is defence, which implies that you must avoid any issues from occurring.
Till the soil thoroughly and add lots of compost before planting to encourage strong growth and straight veggies.
To reduce Phytoplasma infections, remove old plant debris every autumn and keep weeds removed.
Brian Sheridan has an allotment in Edgbaston and is a competitive grower. Brian is also a keen photographer and loves cooking. Brian and his wife Mary will also be running a stall at Edgebaston artisan market this year, selling products made from the allotment, including his award-winning relish!