Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Garden Update April 10th 2013: All About Carrots

I have been so busy in my garden lately! Its time to prepare for summer.

First up, some major cleaning on my plots on March 28th.

Before- Plots 2 and 3 which are next to each other.
After- plots 2 and 3
The best way to clean up a walk way full of weeds is to take a shovel, and scrape the surface of the gravel pathways which loosens the weeds. Then I raked or hand pulled them out pretty easy.

I cleaned out plot #1 today, April 10th and pulled out all my broccoli and lettuce spent plants from my fall and winter plantings.

Before- Plot #1
After- Plot #1
I started all these pots in September and October of last year. I have NEVER weeded them until now. Thanks to my square foot gardening method, the weeds have not gone crazy out of control as would be expected after 6 months. If you dont know what the square foot gardening method is, I highly suggest you do some research about it online. My favorite website about it is found HERE. I purposely sent you to the page about plant spacing because thats the main strategy for square foot gardening. It was invented by Mel Bartholomew who tried to help other countries produce more food with the little space or available farming land they had. Its a method to maximize the space you have to produce as much food as possible. Plus since your growing things very close, it shades out weeds and helps contain moisture in the soil. I have 3 plots and I wanted to maximize how much I could grow and learn how to properly plan a garden. Its been awesome so far. Mel's website can be found HERE.

Anyways, back to my garden.
I sowed various carrot varieties on January 17th 2013. They are all estimated to be harvest size March 28th. I finally had a chance to pull some out on April 7th, a few days after the estimated harvest date. I have never grown carrots before. From the research I have done online, it is recommended to pull them out once the top stub is about 1 inch in diameter. If you let them get too big they get woody and flavorless. So this is what I went by to determine which were ready for harvest. About 25% of all the carrots were at the 1 inch diameter. I guess the rest will keep growing for another week or two. 

Bottom 2 are Amarillo Carrots from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Middle is a Muscade carrot , seed was given to  me by Logrus, top 2 are Danvers Half Long, seed from American Seed I bought at the dollar store.
I ran home all excited to try each variety and test for flavor. By far the best carrot flavor was from the Muscade carrot. If you want a nice true carrot flavor this is an awesome variety. Danvers Half Long didn't taste too bad either, just your normal carrot. Amarillo was much more mild and had a subtle sweetness to it. It tasted yummy, but I wouldn't use it in a recipe based on carrot flavor like carrot cake. 

Basically all the Danvers Half Long carrots were ready by harvest date. Amarillo and Chanteny are about half were ready by harvest date. Muscade, though the taste was amazing, almost all of them are not 1 inch in diameter as of April 10th. I'm letting these grow some more, its definitely worth the wait.

A photo of them in my hand for a size comparison. They are not huge like your grocery store carrots but they taste way better. Bottom is a Chantenay carrot pulled out April 10th, middle is another Amarillo, and top is another Danvers Half Long. Danvers Half Long are supposed to be short and stubby, which is probably why they were the most successful at being ready for harvest on March 28th. So if you want a quick growing carrot, select a smaller variety like Danvers Half Long.

I live in zone 9b so for me to grow carrots in my hot climate was awesome. Ok enough about carrots.

My Super Sweet 100 tomatoes are finally producing something decent. I planted 3 of these plants back in September! They took forever to really start growing. I think winter time halted them for a bit. Now they took off and are taller than I am. This is a vine variety that produces throughout the season. I dont like raw tomatoes except for in sandwiches but these babies are GOOD. They really are sweet. I was pleasantly surprised. These seeds I got from Burpee. One of the 3 plants I planted turned out to be something else entirely  It looks like a bush tomato and it has a huge regular sandwich size tomato growing on it. I HATE it when I dont know what I'm growing. Of course it will stay... but I'm not happy that my seeds from Burpee were not all true. 

Super Sweet 100 tomatoes grow in grape like clusters. As of April 10th I've harvested a few but not entire clusters yet. I try to have them ripe on the vine. My 2 plants are full of clusters. I cant wait to make bruschetta with these tomatoes.

This is my red romaine lettuce from Baker Creek Hierloom Seeds. They are growing beautifully and I love the color of these leaves in my salads.

Here is one of my salads with the red romaine lettuce, kale, butter crunch lettuce, red cabbage, strawberries, blue cheese, walnuts, and a dressing made with olive oil, honey, orange juice, moscato, and red wine vinegar.

The photo is sideways, but this is a bush bean called Dragon Tongue, given to me by Logrus. They were sowed march 28th, and by April 7th they are coming up nicely.

This is a "On Deck" hybrid corn from Burpee. I choose it because its supposed to be small in growth but yields your normal corn ear size. these were sowed March 28th and the photo was taken April 7th. I planted    more than 32 seeds, in 8 squares in my square foot garden layout. Its been 2 weeks and I'm not really pleased with the amount that has sprouted. Maybe I need to give it more time to sprout. This is my first time growing corn. I'll report back on this variety in a few weeks.

LAVENDER! I have never been able to successfully grow lavender. I think its because my southern climate is too moist. So I planted this one on a mini hill so water would drain away better. The camera didnt focus properly but I'm holding one of the buds. I cant wait to harvest and dry lavender flowers. I forget what variety this is, I purchased it from Whole Foods and planted it here last fall. Today, April 10th I direct sowed "True Lavender" seeds from Burpee around this bush. Apparently they will be ready for harvest in 90 days. I highly doubt that is 3 months I can get lavender flowers from seed. They probably list the harvest date as 90 days because some people harvest the leaves. This is a perennial plant, and I dont expect it to flower until the plants are around 1 year old as is the nature with perennials. 

Chamomile German variety. I sowed these seeds September 23rd of last year and now they are finally blooming! The estimated harvest date was January 18th. I think they meant for harvesting leaves. These are supposedly an annual so I am very surprised it took them 6 months to start flowering. I plan to use them to make tea rinses for my hair with sweet mint and probably lavender now that I have some. I love the smell. It makes my hair smell like flowers.

Around our community garden we had several huge bushes of asparagus that we cut down completely to the ground back in January I think. This is supposed to stimulate them into sending up asparagus shoots like this one in the picture. These ones are purple. I've never tried purple asparagus  I was not sure if it was ok to harvest some for myself so I just took a picture of it. 
We also have the normal green asparagus.

This is Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach, seed from Baker Creek Hierloom Seeds. I love this spinach. It has grown like crazy. The bugs keep eating holes in the leaves though. I need to sprinkle diatomaceous earth on them so the bugs stop eating them.

Thats it for now :)

This is just for my own records:
Sowed March 28th
On Deck Hybrid Corn- Burpee
Ground Cherry- Baker Creek Hierloom Seed
Blueberry Tomato- Baker Creek Hierloom Seed
Dragon Tongue bush beans- Logrus

Sowed April 10th
All of plot #1
Lavender "True Lavender"- Burpee
Stevia "Honey Dip"- Burpee
Snap Dragons "Tall Deluxe Mix"- Baker Creek Hierloom Seed
Flavor Burst Sweet Peppers- Burpee
Fat Cherry Tomato- Logrus
Cheroke Purple Tomato - Baker Creek Hierloom Seed
Morning Glory- Clarkes Heavenly Blue
Gladiolus- mixed colors from Walmart
Cosmos "Bright Lights Mix" American Seed brand from Walmart
Zinnia "Giant Cactus Mixed Colors" American Seed brand from Walmart
Zinnia "Candy Cane Mix" American Seed brand from Walmart
Marigold "French Dwarf Double Mixed Colors" seed I saved myself. Original seed from Burpee.
California Poppy "Orange" American Seed brand from Walmart
Sweet Basil, seed saved by myself.

No comments:

Post a Comment