This Week’s Harvest
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peppers (mix of red bell and Italian Sweet Peppers)
- Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
- Globe Eggplant
- Red Potatoes
- Sweet Onions
- Salad Mix
- Poblano Peppers
- Yellow Watermelon
I’m going to tell you about the real dirt on carrots. Mainly that they require A LOT to grow. So much so we only attempt to grow them twice, in spring and fall, and every attempt comes with varying degrees of success. They are a crop we can’t transplant but rather sow directly in the ground. And they are finicky germinators. Germination rates decline if temperatures are above 85, if the soil gets compacted like it does after a heavy rain, or if soil to seed contact is poor as it would be in chunky soil. So good soil prep is key and we must keep our eye on the forecast.
Carrots also grow very slowly and can be taken over by weeds quickly so we must have a a weed management plan in place. Ideally we would make the carrot beds a few weeks before seeding them. This is so we can stale bed, which is to shallowly run the tiller over the beds which kills any weeds that may have germinated. The goal is to do multiple rounds of this stale bedding and have really clean beds prior to seeding. Once we seed the carrots, about 4 or 5 days after we like to flame weed the beds. The carrots are not up yet, but a new round of weeds has germinated and we can kill those weeds with heat from a propane torch. Even after all this, we will still have to hand weed or at the very least go through the beds with a hoe.
To efficiently harvest the carrots, we under cut the beds with a tool on the back of the tractor that digs under the bed and lifts the soil and carrots up making for an easy harvest. Before we had the under cutter we would fork the beds and pull the carrots out. Our soil is so heavy when we used the garden forks, we actually had to water the beds first for the carrots to come out without breaking. When we did this method, the carrots weren’t the only causalities; we have broken several forks over the years!
The carrots in last and this week’s box are from our spring planting. The spring planting did pretty well though the carrots were hard to find amongst the weeds. We consider it a success if CSA gets 2 weeks of spring carrots. For us, it’s the fall carrots that really shine. This year the planting looks really good and we have a nice stand of carrots taking up five 400 ft beds. We got a few stale beds in but didn’t have a chance to flame weed. Today we made sure we’d have time for everyone to help hand weed the beds and we got it done in no time. We’ll start harvesting the fall carrots mid October for the final CSA boxes and if all goes well, we’ll even have a few hundred pounds left in the spring for the first couple boxes of the 2021 season (The first two CSA shares this year had Fall ’19 carrots).
In conclusion, enjoy your carrots as they truly are a labor of love! Now you know why they are only in the CSA boxes a couple times in the beginning, perhaps a few times mid season, and in the final month of the program! We are very glad to have a better handle on growing this customer favorite and plan to continue fine tuning our carrot production in seasons to come!
Coming Up Next Week (our best guess….) Sweet corn, tomatoes, kohlrabi, carrots, potatoes, beets, jalapeño peppers, cucumbers, salad mix and more!