The satisfying sound of acorns crunching under foot jump-starts my senses as I pull on my sou’wester and head off down the garden path to pick carrots.
Sensory deprivation is a big issue for me in the dormant months of the gardening year and what helps me through this is keeping my Winter root vegetable crops in the ground. Pulling carrots in the Winter, when the air is less fragrant with the aroma of new growth or the scent of flowers enables me to breath in the potent, concentrated perfume of the carrot in perfect isolation. I pull one root and then two more and am bowled over by its intensity.
The carrot scent is released mainly from the foliage when the carrots are thinned out or pulled and is powerfully attractive to the carrots biggest enemy; the carrot fly. The small black insect lays its eggs in May-June and August-September and the larvae will burrow into the carrot, making the crop inedible. I protect my carrots with a 2 foot clear plastic defence from May to September and after that I leave this up through the winter to give the vegetables extra protection from the destructive Dartmoor winds.
With my casually imperfect ‘Purple Haze’, Yellowstone’ and ‘Amsterdam Sweetheart’ Carrots in hand, I tramp back indoors, muddy and triumphant and keen to prepare a beef dish to set off these fabulous, freshly pulled beauties!
BOEUF BOURGUIGNON WITH GARDEN CARROTS