When we grow vegetables as annuals, it’s easy to forget what their true life cycle is. Take the carrot. It is a biennial plant; in the wild its life cycle is over two years. The first year it grows a fantastic tap root and this is what we usually harvest. But if left to its own devices, it will use this root as a food source to over winter and, in year two, it will continue to grow, produce flowers and set seed.
I grew this carrot from seed last year, and it was harvested in the autumn. I trimmed back its green top and stored it away in my fridge with the intention of eating it at some point. Just in a plastic bag, nothing fancy. But then I forgot all about it.
Not one for regular meticulous fridge cleaning, it had got hidden by other items piled on top of it. In a mad bout of spring cleaning, I rediscovered it and, to my surprise, noticed that there was a tiny bright green shoot emerging from its top!
I put it in an empty pot to see what would happen. The shoot grew bigger. So I tossed in a handful of soil left over from some sowing I’d been doing, and fed it some water. More shoots grew and got bigger, developing into some fine feathery leaves. Eventually I re-potted it and had to prise away a mass of young roots that had formed and attached themselves to the pot itself. Such was its incredible rate of growth in just a few weeks.
So, the carrot is currently in my cold frame. I have high hopes of seeing some lovely carrot flowers this summer. Perhaps I’ll even try saving some seeds.
Then I will have seen it through its complete and wonderful life cycle.