The past two days have been all about carrots. Monday we spent the day digging 4 beds of carrots, removing the tops, getting off the excess mud and putting them into crates. The weather was cool and cloudy with occasional sunny breaks which were very nice as the sun warmed us up. Otherwise we were cold.
Tuesday afternoon was spent washing the carrots. It was a lot warmer Tuesday than it was Monday and sunny to boot. So the job was not too bad, though getting soaked from the waist down in 50F weather is not exactly my idea of fun. But it was certainly more fun than doing this job in 45F or colder weather.
The mud did not want to come off the roots but with enough water pressure any thing is possible and I ended up with 7 full crates of field washed carrots. Field wash means 99% of the dirt is off of them but they are not 100% clean.
We have a primitive wash station. It consists of a hose and a metal stand to put a crate on. Oh, and I use empty dirty crates to put crates full of dirty carrots on so they are not directly on the ground (keeps things sanitary and also keeps slugs from crawling into the crates and eating holes in the carrots). What I do is first spray down the crates full of dirty carrots to get the dirt on them wet. This is a kin to soaking them. Than I grab a full crate of wet, dirty roots and dump about 1/6th of the contents (maybe 10 pounds) into the cleaning crate (which is any empty crate that is on the metal stand) and spray the carrots off, making sue to roll them around so all surfaces are washed. Than I dump them into a clean crate for storage. Repeat that about 40 times and you have 7 crates of clean carrots ready to be bagged up for sale.
It's a good thing we dug the carrots when we did. They were all harvested because we were under the impression that it was going to get really cold and start snowing. At least that was the forecast 5 days out for this week. As it has turned out it will rain today and it will dip below freezing at night from here on out but it looks like we will not get 12"+ of snow nor will the soils freeze up any time soon (like in the next 10 days). But despite the lack of winter we are finding a lot more damage on the carrots vs the last time we harvested them, about 10 days ago. Up until this final carrot harvest I would say the damaged carrots made up less than 1% (and some weeks there was zero damage). But this batch had around 5% damage, mainly from slugs, though a few carrot tops were chewed off by mice or bunnies. 5% is not bad at all for damage. The summer carrots had around 50% damage from mice and voles and carrot maggots. The summer carrots also were not nearly as big and beautiful nor did they have the wonderful sweet flavor of these fall beauties.
But as I was saying, it is good we got these carrots out when we did because I believe we would have seen a lot more damage from the slugs and mice had we left them in another 5 to 7 days. It was obvious to us that the critters are getting hungry and would have started dining on the carrots in earnest very soon. But now the carrots are safely put away out of the reach of the vermin and ready to be sold to SW Ohio and EC Indiana Locavores and distributed to our farm share members