Sunday, December 05, 2010
We grow carrots and find they do much better if planted in the summer and harvested in the fall. Spring planted carrots tend to be small, bitter and full of carrot maggot damage. Not something we want to sell , nor people want to buy and eat. But the fall carrots tend to be huge, sweet and virtually damage free.
This summer/fall we had a drought which meant no rain for months on end (okay 2 months but still plural) so the carrots had to be hand watered (we did not put irrigation drip tape on the beds for some reason-I think because it was so hot and humid and so many other things had to be irrigated that it simply did not get done). In August we were quite certain, even with being watered by hand 3x to 4x a week that the carrots, at best, would be small, woody roots with bad flavor. That all the work we were doing (this hand watering took two of us about 4 hours a day to do and that was in addition to of all the other chores one must do to keep a market farm up and working) was likely to be for naught.
So we were surprised when in October Eugene started digging the carrots and they were marvelous-large, colorful roots with great flavor (that got better and better the colder it got). And since they were planted in summer and during a drought there was virtually no insect damage (likely due to the fact the maggot flies that lay eggs on the roots which hatch into nasty carrot maggots which in turn make tunnels through the top 1/3 of the carrots, quit breeding due to lack of water). By colorful I mean exactly that-we grow several colors of carrots in addition to the classic orange. As a matter of fact we grow 3 other colors, red, white (which is really a light yellow or ivory color) and yellow. The varieties are Yellowstone (yellow), Purple Haze (red) nelson and Bolero (orange) and White Satin (white, d'uh!). I find the white and yellow carrots have the best taste of the 4 colors-they are the sweetest.
We also discovered that the white and yellow carrots are the most drought tolerant of the 4 colors we grow. They really did not care that they were water starved, they got big and beautiful despite hardship. The red carrots, on the other hand, did not respond well at all to the drought. The survivors (we estimate that at least 50% either did not germinate at all or died young) were small but do have great flavor. The orange varieties did okay in spite of the drought but would have done much much better had we had average rainfall and did not get quite as big as the yellow and white varieties.
In the end, we harvested and cleaned around 150 pounds (plus another 200+ pounds already dug and sold) on Thursday and Friday of this past week. Had we not had a drought we would have gotten at least 4x that amount from 8 50' x 4' beds