Carrot monsters

For the last three years I've planted carrots well after last spring frost and dug them in November at first winter frost to put them in the root cellar. They grow big around here. Individual carrots can weigh 3 pounds or more. But they tend not to look quite like carrots ought. They might have four inch shoulders and five tap roots. They might have two roots twined. They might be split and grown inside out. They're perfectly good to eat if I can clean all the dirt from their various crevices, but the split ones where the cores boil out like brains sometimes look so - ugh! - that it's kind of hard to face them.
There's no sign of bugs or disease, and the soil is a relatively light mixture of sandy dirt and manure. I thought maybe I'd selected the wrong planting date. So last year I planted one row at the usual date and three more after that, each a month apart. The fourth batch barely sprouted in the heat of summer and had no roots at harvest time. The third batch looked like baby carrots but they were all perfectly formed. The second batch were about the size of grocery store carrots with a fair share of sports. And the first batch, as usual, were big but about half had odd shapes.
The pile from the oldest row weighed twice as much as all the rest combined. They were brighter orange and tasted sweeter too, so I don't think I want to give up starting carrots right away after last frost. But is there any way to grow them that big and NOT get carrot monsters?
Kathy
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I have seen that before in Ft Collins, CO. I have no idea why, except that he used a soaker hose on them and gave them plenty of water. You might take a soil sample to your extension office and have them test it. That will give you some idea what the problem is.
Dwayne

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Like Dwayne said, soil test time. I would say the manure might be too much nitrogen. Since you don't have rocks, that will cause some odd shaped ones around here.
John!
Kathy wrote:

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GA Pinhead wrote:

Seconded. If your soil is too rich, it will cause fanging. Stop laying manure for a little while and grow something else that will appreciate a slightly richer soil.
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Kathy wrote:

Interesting. What variety are they? Some are more prone to branching out than others. My guess would be the soil is too fertile; cut back on the manure.
Also interesting that they are still good eating when they've grown so large. I succession plant them (here in SoCal nearly all year round) because we like to harvest them when they're about half the size of grocery store carrots. So tender and sweet that way. -aem
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I've had the same trouble with Red Cored Chantenay and Danvers Half Long. I'm trying Healthmaster - that high vitamin A carrot - this year.
I too was surprised to find that the older carrots were sweeter. I would have thought that "young and tender" would be preferable. But perhaps that has to do with the purpose that I have for them. I try to lay in 40-50 pounds for the winter. Because my storage "root cellars" are old cold chests in the garage, I can't harvest until the weather gets cold. So perhaps my younger bunch were yellow-orange and not very sweet because they were started in July and harvested in November, instead of being started in spring and harvested in the heat of summer as yours may be.
Kathy
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Hi All,
If carrots fork or are mishapen it is because the soil is to rich. Cut back on the manure. Carrots should be planted on soil that was manured the previous year. Hope this helps you.
Richard M. Watkin.

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SNIP

The manure in your soil is the most likely cause of the 'fanging', roots are best grown after beans etc in the rotation schedule so the soil is not so rich.
The splitting is most likely to be a result of heavy rain/watering after a prolonged dry period.
Steve
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Kathy wrote:

The good news is that usually one year is enough to leach the excess nitrogen, specially in sandy soil. You can either leave next year carrot patch alone (add nothing), or you could consider some wood ash for K (if the soil is acid enough). Then regular watering will give you well shaped monster carrots. In fact, I manure my beds every two years, to account for those crops that do not need nitrogen (beans and peas, carrots and parsnips, even chicory and beets will do well without manure).
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