This year I was determined our carrots would not turn out disappointingly small. We would have none of those slender little toothpicks we pulled out of the ground last year in our first attempt to grow carrots from seed.
So I did the smart thing and did a little research before letting the impatient prodding of the 5 year old convince me it was okay to pull up the carrots right now.
You see I didn't understand how to judge the size of the carrot when it was buried underground, a complete mystery in length and shape other than the obvious tufts of green that had been getting bigger and bushier over the last few weeks.
What I discovered was the easiest trick of all, something that intuition alone should have told me (but here it becomes clear I am no born gardener but rather learning by doing). All you have to do is brush away the dirt that covers the very top of the carrot, just below the stem. This simple trick will reveal the top of the carrot and whether it is something substantial enough to warrant picking and immediate consumption.
Intuition did guide in choosing to reveal what was hiding beneath the fattest, thickest stems. Here were our largest carrots. I pointed, my son pulled. We smiled victoriously. He impatiently waited while I documented our lovely little carrots that were definitely not big, but still definitely big enough for eating. We quickly rinsed. Crunch, crunch. "Sweet...good!".