Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Carrots in Clay and CSA Week 23

Despite the date on the calendar, you cannot convince me that winter has not set in. It is all a bit earlier than I would have liked.

Remaining in the garden right now are some of the winter radishes, sugar beets, a few idling greens and...carrots!
The carrots are at their best right now,  having remained in the ground for a good number of frosts and freeze-ups. These cold temperatures make them very sweet, starches converting to sugars.
This is the year the carrots haven't stop coming.  I'm glad about that. It's isn't a given in any year that if I plant them, they will grow and do well.
Carrots like a light soil and my clay is anything but.
I could grow carrots that don't reach down far into the depths of the soil, like Paris Market or the wonderful Oxheart which grows a chubby stubby carrot that can weigh up to a pound.
My preference though is the longer carrots, Scarlet Nantes in particular and in clay soil that takes a bit more work.

I grew some very interesting carrots this year. Red Elephant, White Belgium, Dragon, Yaya, Paris Market, Jaune du Doubs, Snow White, Purple Haze and of course Scarlet Nantes. There were more too.
Some were from seed I had saved myself, so the process of getting these carrots was more than a year in the making.
To prepare my soil, I pulled my hoe across freshly tilled soil, making a trench a good 6-8 inches in depth. This year it was many long rows.
I filled each row with compost and hand seeded my carrots. It took several days. I then lightly pulled some compost over the seed, and watered many times per day with a light mist, until a week later the seeds germinated.
Alas, as the carrot seeds germinated, so did the weeds.
There were many days of hand weeding, keeping up with the watering, and now the digging.
I've spent hours digging and there are more, many more to go. With the temperatures being as cold as they are, and my poor old fingers numbing up after about an hour, it's a slow process.
I dig, then come in and warm my hands, then out I go to dig again. I've dug more than 1000 lbs of carrots so far I would venture to guess.
Some of the carrots I have dug are stored in barrels layered in straw. At this time they are outside under a tarp. But once I can get all the dried beans moved inside that are in the garage, the carrots will be moved in. This weekend. Of course that's what I always say.
I know the way I do things makes me a bit of a dinosaur.  I'm at the stage of my life now though that I don't want to have a bigger, busier business. In fact that was never it for me.
I received information today on an upcoming conference which is a "must attend" for growers and those interested in local food. New ways of marketing, processing and all sorts of networking opportunities.
I've lost my desire to scramble, compete and connect so it doesn't hold much interest to me.
I just want to grow now. Enjoy the garden, marvel over the size of some of the beets in the garden, the horseradish that showed up out of nowhere and try some of the amazing heirlooms I have yet to discover.
Every time I scoop up another shovelful of carrots I marvel at their size, their colours and I understand when I eat them, why I did the work I did. This is the way I'll keep doing it.
The CSA baskets that went out today are clearly not as full as they were in the earlier months of summer. Carrots, jerusalem artichokes, beets, dried beans, greens and jam or jelly of some sort-basil, tomato or grape.
There are two weeks left now of this 25 week season and I am starting to get some people asking about the 2015 CSA. Although I haven't decided how many shares I will do, or the length of the season or seasons, let me know soon if you are interested as I am developing a bit of a waiting list. It won't be a large CSA, this I know. But I always do like to change something up every year, so don't expect an exact replica of this year.
I'll have the new info up on my website in January, and I thank you for your continued support and interest.