Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pulling the Carrots and Planting the Brassicas

I remember a post not long ago that was entitled "Pulling the Cabbage Bed and Planting the Carrots". I have two brassica beds in the spring that turn into carrot beds for the fall. And one carrot bed in the spring that turns into a brassica bed in the fall. I pick to do two carrot beds in the fall as carrots are great storage crops. And I like the two brassica beds in the spring because they produce so quickly so they get the produce flowing when I need it most.

First we will talk about the problems with the carrots. If you remember this bed was attacked pretty hard by the cutworms. They took down or hurt about a quarter of my seedlings. I planted the seedlings after last year's mustard crop to try to keep down the nematode damage. As you can see from the photo above, that wasn't particularly successful. I found though that the Nelson carrots were pretty immune to it, while the Mokums were hit harder. I'll still grow the Mokums, but I might make the bed more Nelson heavy next year.

Split carrot

In addition, Mokums are prone to splitting. There weren't a lot, maybe five or so. And the Nelsons had about three. Not too bad. I was also starting to find some carrot fly damage. If it was at the tip I just broke it off and put it in my waste bin. No need to take it in. Most of the damage was at the tip. I keep the bed covered to keep out the flies, but I have to keep the carrots weeded or they will get overwhelmed. That gives the flies a chance to get in. Not much of one, but enough for some small damage. Interestingly enough after the bed was harvested and the row cover removed, it called in every carrot fly in the vicinity. The soil was just swarming with them. Without a row cover, they would be pretty sad. Though I know if I time the harvest just right in late June, I can pick out in the open without too much damage yet. Now is way too late to pick like that though, so a row cover is essential.

Like most of my pickings, I like to clean things up outside to keep the dirt out of the house. One of my favorite garden and kitchen tools (it does duel duty) is my big enamel washtub. It really helps when you have a big harvest. The washing took a while and my back was getting sore.

So much for the negatives. Lets look at the good stuff. This was the largest carrot. It was a Nelson carrot.

And this was the harvest. This has been the best spring ever for carrots despite the issues. I harvested just under 30 pounds this spring. Wow. Last year was 19 pounds. The big question is why. Part of it is having the right variety for the season. In past springs I'd been growing SugarSnax and Mokum. SugarSnax is a terrible spring carrot. If you don't want it to taste bitter in the summer, you have to pick it early before it gets really hot. But it is a longer season carrot, so it just can't size up in that time. Nelson is a great spring/summer carrot. It tastes good even with the heat, and it sizes up well in the time allotted to it.

The other reason for the increase in yield, is not from anything I did. We might have had a late start to the spring, but it was a very sunny and warmer than normal spring. We didn't get a lot of rain (I watered a lot which is unheard of in spring), but sunshine was in abundance. Often in spring we have cool overcast drizzly days. Not this spring. So Mother Nature was kind to me this year.

Storing such a large amount of carrots (I picked 20 pounds in this batch) requires space. So I cleaned out my vegetable drawer and used that. I fit all those carrots together like a puzzle. I covered it with a damp cloth and some plastic as it will keep them crispy longer. I tried my best, but they still didn't all fit.

So I made up a basket of carrots and my largest cabbage and took it to my townhouse mates. I'm sure they will enjoy them. I would have given them the cabbage earlier, but they were out of town. Now that they are back they can help me with my abundance.

Lunch: pastured eggs over some leftover quinoa and herbs, with some cooked carrots (I like my carrot sticks partially cooked), chard, and a little sauerkraut

And what did I have for lunch? Well carrots of course. Yum. I think this harvest will have no trouble lasting for the two months it will take to grow the next batch. Well at least if I don't go crazy with them.

After lunch I decided it was cool enough to plant the brassicas. I put in six Michihili cabbage, four Golden Acre cabbage, thirteen kohlrabi, and a few rows of Oasis turnips. When I put the row cover on I trapped about a million little carrot flies. Better there than anywhere else I guess.


  1. Carrots are such a versatile vegetable. We use them in so many dishes - nearly as many as onions. Unfortunately they are also prone to lots of pest attack. Over here it is definitely not worth growing them without protection.

  2. Don't they look lovely?! Last winter I made pot after pot of carrot soup - so good! I haven't had any fresh-picked carrots yet, but maybe soon.

  3. What a lovely harvest! I have not had much luck with carrots in the past, but I am planning to plant some this fall. I live in Southeast Georgia on the Florida border, so it is still blazing hot here. A few more weeks though and I'll be busy planting too. :)

  4. Those carrots look great & 30 lbs is very impressive - that's 3x the amount I harvested from my bed last year. I'm still trying out different varieties to see which ones I like best & Mokum made it onto this years list. Unfortunately, I won't be able to tell if they are a good summer carrot for me since I sowed them so late - I'll have to wait until next year for that I guess.