The Lone Carrot

The Lone Carrot freshly harvested
from our garden — in February.

Meet the Lone Carrot.  It was the only one that grew from an entire package of Nantes Scarlet Half Long seeds from the D. Landruth Seed Company.  I planted them as a border around our raised tomato bed last spring.  I found the inspiration for the border from the book Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte.  Maybe our carrot seeds didn’t really love tomatoes.  Perhaps they had a crush on our bell peppers or okra.

We should have been overrun with carrots.  But we weren’t.  We should have been able to harvest carrots within 65-70 days according to the package.  But we didn’t.  Instead we harvested the Lone Carrot seven months after it was planted.   The Lone Carrot only survived because we didn’t know it was there.  My beloved found it a few weeks ago on a trip back from the compost pile.  I was pleasantly surprised when he told me about it, although frankly I thought he didn’t know what he was talking about.  I thought that perhaps he had confused carrot weed (a common weed around here) with carrot foliage.  But he was correct.  We had a healthy carrot growing in our garden — in February.
I harvested the Lone Carrot only because the foliage was dying back.  I figured it was as peak as it was going to get.  I slowly loosened the soil around it then gently pulled it from the earth.  To say that it was one of the most joyful moments of my life would be an insult to the first time I held our bouncing baby boy.  Or the first time he uttered “Mommy.”  Or the first time I watched Big Ed Daniel easily dunk a basket for the Murray State Racers.  Or any other of those milestone moments.  But it did rank right up there.  My beloved didn’t appreciate my harvesting.  He would have left it there just to see how big it might get.  But our Lone Carrot was perfect, and it wasn’t going to get any bigger.
It took us a while to figure out what we were going to do with it.  This wasn’t any ordinary carrot.  It was the Lone Carrot.  We couldn’t simply chunk it into pot roast.  We decided that the Lone Carrot needed a dish that would celebrate its carrot-ness.  It needed to compliment a simple dish so that its flavor could shine.  If we had found two carrots, it would have been easier. But with one carrot, we decided only chicken noodle soup would do.  Besides, after last night’s post about chicken noodle soup, our mouths were watering for more.
Last night, my beloved sliced the Lone Carrot, then ceremoniously stirred it in.  He left a small piece for each of us to taste.  The man is a genius.  After we toasted, we slowly took a bite.  I only wish I knew exactly how to describe the intensity of the flavor.  Never, ever, ever have I tasted a carrot so… rich.  It was the very first time I had ever tasted a homegrown carrot.  My mother didn’t grow carrots.  Neither did my grandmothers.  And we can’t find them at our farmers’ markets.  I have lived my entire life eating limp carrots from the grocery store.  I now know that there is no comparison.
We anxiously waited for the cornbread to brown before we filled our bowls.  The Lone Carrot did not disappoint.  The extra boost of flavor that that single carrot gave to the soup was truly remarkable.  The bouncing baby boy had three helpings for dinner and just came in for another two bowls before heading off to bed.
The Lone Carrot has inspired me to ponder throwing a few seeds in the flower bed along our driveway.  Then forget about them.  Will they sprout?  Can they grow as living mulch?  I don’t see why not.  Their distinctive foliage would be beautiful.  What do we have to lose but a few seeds?  But if it works– then we can delete another item off our grocery list!
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