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.
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!
We ate a few, then I froze the rest.
I offered the leftover greens to the sheep and goats, who offered a very mediocre response!
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. 🙂