When all else fails…carrots.

If you follow my blog with any regularity, you may have noticed a total dearth of posts about my garden this year. It has not gone well for a variety of reasons. But my one bright spot has been the carrot crop.

GE DIGITAL CAMERASo my whiny excuses for a poor garden include, but are not limited to:

1. Very busy and extended lambing and kidding season with 2 bottle babies totally distracted me from starting anything, especially the ‘maters, early indoors.

2. Late frosts this year, right up to our last expected frost date. This prevented me from getting stuff into the ground, but it also killed off leaves from our grapes, clematis and walnut trees; two of the three recovered.

3. Sow bug revolution in my hugelkultur. Sow bugs are generally harmless, simply feeding on decaying material. However, according to my research, in large numbers they can incidentally damage small rootlets of new sprouts. So I went out one night to see if I could catch the culprits that had mowed down an entire bean patch, the cukes and peppers, all as small sprouts. What I saw in my flashlight was breathtaking. The surface of my hugel was heaving and swaying. There was a solid mat of sow bugs covering the entire surface of the garden. There were millions of them.

More research uncovered the way to get rid of sow bugs is to remove any organic material from the area…..Since my hugel is 100% organic material there is a small problem. I have not yet overcome it. A second planting of beans was similarly wiped out except for 2 plants. So I probably planted a grand total of 300 bean plants and I got 2 to show for it.

This is actually not a failure of hugelkultur. Hugels are supposed to be used with perennials. Those plants send roots deep down into the wood and get the moisture, which is the whole point of making a wood-based garden. And all my perennials in there were not bothered by the sow bugs: comfrey, oregano and feverfew. So I spent some time adding more edible perennials in all the empty spaces left by the failed plantings. So I do have some happy lovage, I’m attempting walking onions and I transplanted some strawberries. Since the heat has set upon us I have not seen ANY sow bugs. I don’t know if they went underground or died.

4. It’s really hot out and I have not been as attentive to weeds and watering as I should have been. Lame but true.

But carrots were the happy exception. Normally carrots are a fail for me year after year. They do not compete well with weeds but they are a booger to weed. So this year they went into a container. It was very easy to weed, it was next to the back door for easy watering and I filled it with nummy composted soil and fed them comfrey tea.

The picture above was just the thinnings, so the remaining ones could grow larger. I was thrilled when I started pulling and saw objects that were readily identifiable as carrots! Even nice-looking carrots! Here is the container after I thinned it. I should have taken a picture before because it was so wild and bushy….and totally weed free!

An old leaky water bucket serving a new function!

An old leaky water bucket serving a new function!

We ate a few, then I froze the rest.

Here they are sliced with my wavy cutting tool thingy and frozen, ready to be bagged. (I freeze them on a cookie sheet then bag them. That way they don't clump together)

Here they are sliced with my wavy cutting tool thingy and frozen, ready to be bagged. (I freeze them on a cookie sheet then bag them. That way they don’t clump together)

I offered the leftover greens to the sheep and goats, who offered a very mediocre response!

Heather takes a big sniff of the carrot greens.

Heather takes a big sniff of the carrot greens.

So eventhough my cukes are about a month behind (I’ve harvested one tiny one so far. Last year at this time I had canned a dozen jars of pickles) and my tomatoes, all 15 varieties, are once again fighting blight, at least I did get carrots. 🙂

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9 Responses to When all else fails…carrots.

  1. Trish Avery says:

    A bad year can really gitcha down. We had a single tomato in the garden which was a stolen treat for a few bad peeps. lol Left a perfect empty tomato skin.

  2. danrshaw says:

    So far we’ve been lucky. We are 7 inches over are average in rainfall so far and I was afraid all our root veggies would get rot. We harvested 52 pounds of potatoes out of the one row and a half we planted. We had to harvest them because all the plants got tore up in a bad rain/windstorm. All the tops were 4 feet tall and the wind just broke them all off at the base. Our carrots are doing well and the our tomatoes also but we are fighting slugs over them. Our cukes, squash and sting beans are all putting out. I just need to find the time now to start dehydrating everything and can some salsa.
    Now if I had lambing and kidding to take care of all the time we wouldn’t have much of a garden either.
    As it is I’ve been trying to build a new run for the girls and I started in early spring and it’s only about halfway done. It’s hard to dig holes for fence posts when it’s raining all the time and when it isn’t raining it seems it time to cut the grass again.

  3. Kathy says:

    hi Julie, thought I would share some news from our farm…for the first time in 23 years of sheep we are having a huge run on lambs…so far 5 since June, and probably 10 to go. Not sure why at all…seems the ewes got bred right after they delivered their lambs. Any thoughts?

    • Julie Helms says:

      When we used to let our ram run with the girls we always had two breedings per year. One gal even gave us 9 lambs in a 12 month period–triplets, 3x!! I think the weather plays a big part in when they go back into heat again, and we have had some wacky weather this year. Enjoy your bounty!

  4. Debby says:

    Gardening! I love it but it sure is challenging! Harvested plenty of spinach & lettuce, some onions,broccoli. Now getting peppers, but tomatoes aren’t ready yet. Went out of town for 4 days last week and when we got home black & orange bugs were eating all of my brussel sprout plants! Was so disappointing! Had a late kidding this year, June 27th. A first time mom had triplets! Bottle feeding one of them. Julie, Silas (Hans) is doing great and having fun with the kids!

    • Julie Helms says:

      I met those orange and black bugs on the brussels sprouts last year. I had them planted in 2 locations. Only one had the bugs and they never ended up producing anything. The other we harvested just fine in October. Congrats on the kidding–hot time of year to be doing that!

  5. Mac Pike says:

    Love those carrots in a bucket!

  6. glorylennon says:

    You did just like Mac with the carrots, awesome harvest! I’m convinced in containers is the only way to grow them!

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