As I was down on my knees last week digging up the last of the spring carrots, I realized I was literally “getting my Yayas out” of the ground. I was also getting the Nelson carrots out, but it was the Yaya carrots that had Rolling Stones songs playing in my head. It is also possible that I had spent too much time working in the hot sun that day!
This spring I planted six different carrot varieties in short rows in a four foot square raised bed. Four of them (Yaya, Nelson, Baby Babette and Cordoba) had their own row, while the two purple varieties (Purple Haze and Purple Dragon) shared a row.
The Yaya and Cordoba varieties each yielded right at four pounds each. Purple Haze and Purple Dragon each yielded about two pounds, which means all these varieties produced at the rate of about one pound per lineal foot of row. This is in line with expected yields of 7 to 10 pounds per 10 foot row, as outlined in the document from the Virginia Cooperative Extension titled Root Crops. Since I dug the carrots at different times, and many have already been eaten, I don’t have any photos to compare them all at once. Below is an image of the purple carrots that I dug a couple of weeks ago.
The Baby Babette is a French finger carrot that is meant to make small, uniform ‘baby’ carrots, so it isn’t fair to compare its yield with that of the other full sized varieties. It yielded right at two pounds, or half as much as the above varieties. The smaller carrots were nicely shaped and tasted good, but I doubt that I will plant this variety again because it just doesn’t make very good use of our limited space to grow carrots.
Nelson was the standout of the spring carrots, yielding a whopping 88 ounces/5.5 lb. The below photo shows the Yaya and Nelson carrots that I dug last week, and you can see the difference in the size of the pile of Nelsons on the left. While size isn’t everything, it is something, and Nelson has been a great performer here the last couple of years.
It’s hard for me to describe any taste differences in the varieties I grew this spring. They all tasted pretty good to me, but the spring carrots are generally not as tasty as ones that mature in the cooler weather of fall. My wife and I have been enjoying them all, and some of the Purple Haze went into a lentil salad my wife made last week. It is my turn to cook for the next two weeks and I am sure carrots will be on the menu several times.
In other carrot news, I got the fall crop planted last week. It’s in the bed where onions grew earlier, which is a tad bigger than the bed the spring carrots occupied, but not by much. I sowed five short rows of Bolero, Cordoba, Nelson, Purple Haze and Yaya, and I spaced these rows about 8″ apart. I could probably get another row or two in there if I spaced the rows a bit closer but for now I am happy with this arrangement. Bolero is a Nantes type storage type carrot that is supposed to improve in taste in storage. I got the seeds from Johnny’s. After sowing I covered the bed with doubled up Agribon row cover material, which I will keep in place until the carrot seeds have sprouted.
Carrots aren’t the only game in town around here. The summer lettuce is holding on, no doubt helped by the cooler than normal summer weather we are having lately. That’s Sierra in the below photo, a Batavian/crisphead type. It’s been nice for salads and sandwiches. Which reminds me I need to get some more lettuce planted and sown for fall.
The paste tomatoes are coming in now. A mix of Big Mama, Viva Italia and Juliet went into a batch of Homemade Tomato Ketchup my wife cooked up last week. It’s a good way to make about 10 pounds of tomatoes disappear, but it does take a lot of stirring and time to cook it down to the right consistency. We use a lot of this ketchup so we will try and make at least three batches of it this year. It’s tasty on a burger or fries, and it also makes a great base for BBQ sauce and other things like cocktail sauce for shrimp or my wife’s Cherry Chicken recipe.
A new paste tomato I’m growing this year is called Quadro. It’s an open-pollinated indeterminate type with medium sized blocky fruit, and so far it looks like a good performer here. If so it will join Ludmilla’s Red Plum as another o/p paste tomato that can stand our hot and humid growing conditions. Most don’t seem to cut it, but this one looks promising. I’ll continue to plant a lot of hybrid paste types too, since I have found a reliable group to grow here (Viva Italia, Health Kick, Rio Grande, Big Mama, and Super Marzano).
I made a Green Bean and Bulgur Salad with Walnuts yesterday with Fortex and Musica beans, plus some Sun Gold and Super Sweet 100 tomatoes. The pole beans are starting to slow down, but there are new blooms coming on and I think they are getting their second wind. It has been a great year for beans so far.
The greenhouse shelves are full of seedlings for fall veggies. I hope to begin getting some of those planted this week. I have the ground prepared here, and I hope to get the area at the Impact Community Garden tilled up tomorrow. These seedlings are all potted up in 3.5″ pots so they should really take off once they are in the ground. I also find that the birds are less likely to peck at the larger seedlings.
I also planted another round of cucumbers in the greenhouse bed, to replace the spring planted ones that got infested with spider mites. I will be using some insecticidal soap on these to hopefully keep the mites in check. I also hung some new yellow sticky traps up which should help. You can see them hanging down below the shelves in the above photo. The cucumber seedlings look tiny compared to the remesh cages, but they will take off and quickly reach the top of the cages. At that point I pinch out the growing point to force them to branch out, and to concentrate on growing nice big cucumbers.
I hope you have enjoyed this recap of what’s happening here in early August. To see what other gardeners are digging, drying, harvesting and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays.