C is for carrots
It was interesting to observe what happened. Most of the seeds were sowed in the Homeland raised beds, where we normally grow carrots, but in different beds than the previous crop. Those that I sowed between the mulch (as in the photo above) took longer to germinate, but in the end, they grew better – well, sort of. Some of the seeds I sowed in open soil in the raised beds, never even germinated. Most of the seeds I sowed in Dreamland’s open shallow no-dig beds germinated, but their growth was severely stunned when they hit the hard clay. More soil conditioning is obviously required.
Anyway, the time came to harvest the carrots. Great was our disappointment! The reddish ones were sort-of OK, although very hairy, but the yellowish ones were bleak – almost white, bland, underdeveloped and as hard as rock. They weren’t even nice to boil or steam.
However, all is not lost. One of our neigh-bours is Ricky, a retired stud horse, which roams wherever he wants to go on a very neglected 3.5 acres. (I would LOVE to make something of that farmlet! In fact I did a design for it as my solo project during my PDC course.) Ricky’s shed is so dilapidated, he takes shelter under the trees when it rains (and our winter rain is icy cold!) I don’t blame him though, the loose corrugated iron sheets on his shed make the most eerie rattling noises in the midnight wind. Halloween. Stephen King. They give him the odd bale of straw, but mostly for feed he can choose between serrated tussock, some salty sprawling weeds (looks like Horehound – I should really learn their names) and whatever grows in-between after any rain. (We would also LOVE to take Ricky over too… we already use his manure in the worm farm and on the compost heaps).
So Ricky has become our adapted pet in a way. We feed him some long grass we pull out. He doesn’t like apples all that much, not even sliced, which is a pity in apple-glut season. But he loves roses, dandelion (if it’s medicinal for us, I guess it’s good for him too?) and of course, carrots!
Although he has become quite wild, he is quite tame over the fence, if that makes sense. So in exchange for treat – he always takes his treat first – he allows you a little stroke. Not much though, just a short token thank you.
Precious….I can see a trusty friend relationship building here…
Johan, she has a very special relationship with, and love for animals – precious!
I’m sure Ricky’s owner will see that your place would be a better retirement home.
Ha ha we wished! (Not that we have enough space – but if we can use theirs… now we’re talking!) However, Ricky’s owners don’t like us very much because we “asked” them not to spray herbicides….
Oh, too of my least favorite things in the garden; carrots and horses! Although I dislike carrots very much, I must grow them for everyone else. When I was in school, we payed rent by boarding horses, which occasionally came into the garden and ate whatever they wanted to. People who tend to horses can be so disregardful of gardens.
Carrots are highly strung beasts too, aren’t they? We have had our share of stunted, hairy carrots, but they have always been quite tasty. They are notoriously unreliable in their germination.
Especially the ones we self-harvested – their germination rate is atrocious!
I feel sorry for Ricky but at least he has friends 😊 Nice that you can get manure from him!
I’m intrigued that you did a solo design on your PDC. We had nothing like that – one of the most underwhelming and boring educational activities I’ve ever done.
Our PDC was amazing – learnt so much! (I didn’t check my phone once in two weeks, if that’s a measure…) We did one solo design in week 1, and then one group design in week 2.
One of the teachers explained that the challenge for them (in part) was the wide range of participants, so difficult to pitch at the right level for all. It doesn’t help with my being a teacher (and teacher developer)…..
We have a horse neighbour too. Her name is Cleo, and I think she’s very lonely. She likes to come and get apples from us, but she’s a cupboard lover and doesn’t wait around to get patted.
Ricky is very similar – very lonely I think, but he doesn’t hang around either.
You might be better trying some stumpy carrots until your soil loosens – you can get some that are adapted for shallow soil. Not sure why they didn’t taste good, I’m assuming that’s down to the variety as well.
Someone on our recent course (in response to a comment by the farmer on a farm walkabout) said carrots go stumpy when they have too many (enough for them) nutrients in the top layers, so they don’t grow deeper. “Really?” I thought at the time… So, I couldn’t confirm that anywhere in google-land, but what I found concurs with what you’ve said above, especially with respect to hard clay soil (which is under our recent quite shallow open no-dig beds). I was hoping the carrots would help break it up, and maybe they did a little. We just need more and more organic materials, and a few more (maybe sacrificial) deep-rooted crops to break it up. The bland taste is weird though, especially on the deeper beds – too much heat is supposed to cause that – but it was a winter crop.
It’s easy from here to say ‘be patient’, but sometimes it takes a while for the soil structure to improve. You’re heading in the right direction, and clay isn’t such a bad starting point.
You’re right – we have to build it up patiently. I’ve never worked on sand, but from what I’ve heard and read. I’ll much rather start off working to unlock the nutrients in clay than I would try to make sand hold water!