Category Archives: Carrots

Late Season Bean Planting

After trying to get over the failure of my spring garden, probably due to Dow Agriscience’s poison aminopyralid, I have decided to replant some quick growers for the second half of our growing season here in Texas.  This bed is scheduled to have broccoli, cabbage and greens this fall.  However, since these crops won’t be planted for at least 6 to 8 weeks, I am going to try to get a quick crop of beans.

So far, the beans look OK.  I think that maybe most of the poison aminopyralid may have degraded in this bed.

This half of the bed is planted with yellow wax beans. I intend to pick them for fresh yellow beans and have no intention of saving seeds. This means that this crop should be done in 60 days.  There is basil planted all thru this bed – I planted it after my squash mysteriously started to dye – probably thanks to Dow’s poison aminopyralid that is now loose and ruining compost piles all over the western world.  One okra plant survived – barely holding on for the past few months, but now seems to have taken off – it is in the lower left side, circled in red. In the front right corner is a lone surviving pepper plant.  The peppers seem to be doing better – again I suspect that maybe Dow’s poison aminopyralid may be degrading.  The tomato next to the okra never recovered and really needs to be pulled.

yellow wax beans

This end of the garden – below – was initially planted with left over Seed Savers Painted Pony beans from a 2009 batch. The seeds were refrigerated, but I guess they were just too old – only 2 seeds sprouted. So, a week later I replanted the area with a few Bolita Bush bean seeds that I had left from Baker Creek, dated 2010. They sprouted and now they look like they are actually pole beans! As such, I had to put some tomato cages among them so that they have something to climb onto.  I had intended to only grow bush beans for 2 reasons: to improve the nitrogen in the bed and for something quick – bush beans mature quicker than pole beans. Well, this is a surprise an I hope that they will be done and producing by the time I have to yank them out to plant my broccoli seedlings in. I didn’t have enough seeds to cover this whole half of the bed, so I’ll just leave that bare spot unplanted for now.  I had planed to save some of these Bolita seeds – if the plants can mature quickly enough.

late summer bean crop

I still don’t have my greenhouse moved over to our new property and have had a very difficult time trying to get seeds to sprout.  These are my cabbages and broccoli seedlings.  The chinese cabbage seedlings were rained on and over half of them were lost.  I have reseeded these trays. I need several hundred chinese cabbage seedlings and at least 6 dozen cabbage transplants and at least that many broccoli seedlings.  I plan to grow the broccoli under my winter hooped garden beds and stick the cabbages all over – under the hoops and outside.  It can take the freeze.

broccoli cabbage seedlings

I have trouble knowing when to start the cabbages and broccoli because it is so hot here for so long and quickly gets cool.  It is almost too hot to get the seedlings started and then gets too cool to get them growing good in the garden.  I can’t even start the spinach until the soil cools to 75 degrees and at the same time I plant my lettuce.  I plan to direct seed the carrots, chard, beets and kale pretty soon.  The turnips are the last thing to get planted.  The winters seem to be getting colder and get here sooner.  I’m having trouble timing plantings.

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Carrots – Which Variety Do I Prefer?

This past winter growing season, being my first time to grow crops under a hoop garden, I tried 2 varieties of carrots – Scarlet Nantes and Autumn King.

Scarlet Nantes are on the left and Autumn King are on the right.  The Autumn King grew larger and looked more orange.  The Scarlet Nantes were a paler orange and overall the carrots were smaller.  There was not a discernible difference in taste between the 2 varieties.  They are both heirloom varieties.

autumn king carrots vs scarlet nantes

These carrots were planted in beds that were just filled with composted horse manure.  I had read that planting carrots in such a rich compost would result in lots of small hairy roots all over them – this did not prove to be true.

I have a mountain of carrots to finish harvesting.

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Under the Hoops

This is the first winter that I have had a covered hoop garden.  A few posts ago, you can see the garden beds with the hoops in place.  The hoops are 10′ under ground gray conduit.  About a dollar and a half each, not bad. They are secured into the ground with a 2′ section of 3/8″ rebar, cut to 2′ sections and pounded half way into the ground.

The tent is a 24′ section of thicker plastic from Lowes.  It was a 100′ roll that cost $40 something.  I cut it into 4 sections, allowing about 4′ to hang over the ends and be gathered and secured.  I did not nail the plastic on – I simply weighed the long sides down with pieces of lumber.  Seemed to work OK.

Since the plastic is only on the beds for half the year – about October thru March – and not the hard summer sun, I am hoping that the pieces will last several years.

I was surprised at the amount of heat under the plastic on a cool winter day.  The greens seemed to like it.

under the hoop

You can see a few garlic scattered about.  The greens in the front are luculus chard.  The greens on the left side, mid way back are kohlrabi, which we are eating for the greens.  On the front right side, out of view, is Parris Isle cos lettuce.  (Some of it seemed to freeze to death – unusual because I have never had it freeze to death before).  Scarlet nantes carrots are growing in the far back right side.  They seem to be happy.  They better fill out in the next month because by mid-March when I plan on pulling them to make room for some of my summer squash to get an early start.  They prefer warm weather, but I am going to see if I can start them early under the hoops with the plastic sheeting protecting and warming them.  The yellow flowers on the back left side are bok choy going to seed.  It won’t be any good because no insects were in the tent to pollinate them.  They took a beating when the outside temps reached down to the mid-teens – the white stems died but the green leaves seemed to survive just fine.  Every thing else – except possibly some lettuce – survived the seriously freezing temps.

This was my first winter to experiment with plastic covered garden tents for winter hardening.  Next winter I need to get some serious production since I now have an idea of what’s going on.  I also found out that to protect my winter crops from the rabbits and deer, I need to grow everything except the turnips and curly kale under the hoops.  All of my lettuce and spinach that I planted outside the tents was eaten.

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My Hoop Garden Is Taking Shape

I have prepared two of my raised beds for hoop gardens. I plan to do this for my 3rd bed that doesn’t have a raised cattle panel running down the middle of it.

The beds are made out of 16′ lengths of 1×6 treated lumber.  The boxes are 5′ wide.  I purchased four 20′ sections of 3/8″ rebar and had one of my sons cut them into 2′ sections.  I decided to put 7 hoops on each 16′ bed.  I pounded the 2′ sections of rebar 1′ into the ground, leaving 1′ above ground – the height of the bed side.   I used 10′ sections of gray electrical conduit to bend over the bed for the arch.  Each end of the conduit covers the raised 1′ section.  Hopefully this will be satisfactory to anchor the pressured ends of the conduit.  I plan to tie a piece of the gray conduit along the top of the arch to keep the pipes properly spaced.  I will then cover the arches with clear plastic.  I need to find a thick 50′ roll of plastic.  Twenty-five feet will cover each bed with enough to gather at the ends.  I need a roll that is at least 12′ wide so that it will cover the 10′ arch and leave at least a foot to lay on the ground and be weighed down by old garden timbers or lengths of wood.

I still need to work the ground around these beds – putting mulch around the beds.
hoop garden

Another view:
hoop garden

The winters here have been getting colder each year for a while now, so I am hoping these covered hoop beds will allow me to grow winter crops better.  On the list for my winter crops are:  cabbage, broccoli, spinach, lettuce – both leaf and cos, turnips, carrots, fava beans, peas and whatever else I can’t think of at the moment.  Garlic doesn’t need to be protected from the freezes.

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Time to Pick Most of the First Round of Carrots

It is time to harvest the first wave of carrots.  These were planted around February or March (carrots are supposed to be a 60 day crop, but mine seem to take 90 days for most of the planting to grow large):

Carrot harvest

Picked some more a few days ago:

carrot harvest

Interestingly, the size of the green top does not necessarily tell you the size of the carrot. Some large green tops have small carrots and some smaller green tops have larger carrots. A couple of the carrots were bolting, so I just picked them all. I have a later planting scattered on the remainder of that bed and half of the next bed. I expect they will be ready within a month. I am already planting tomatoes and pepper seedlings among the carrots.

I’m sorry, but I really don’t recall the variety of carrots that these are. I do remember that it was a large seed pack from a big box store and I just scattered them all over, not bothering to thin them. The soil in that raised bed is very fine and they grew nice and long.

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Potatoes Growing Right Along

I’m growing potatoes this year, just a small bag of seed potatoes. I planted 2 in a large pot, in about 8″ of soil. They have grown over a foot, and I have added at least 8″ of leaves/mulch/potting soil. I am intending to cover the stems up to the top edge of the pot and hoping for a pot full of potatoes. We’ll see how this works. I am expecting potatoes to grow in the soil at the bottom, and as I understand it, the covered stems should produce potatoes along them also.

Potatoes growing in a large pot

The other 8 seed potatoes were planted in this row, about 8″ under the soil in the ditch. They sprouted up about a week ago. I need to cover the ditch with the dirt on either side, adding lots of leaves in the mix.  I hope to be able to cover the plants up to that wood wall on their right.

Row of potatoes

To the right of this row are carrots that are close to harvesting.  On the left, to the left of the wood laying on the ground that I am going to use as a bed border, bush beans are going to be planted, with pole beans along the raised cattle panel that is further left.

I am trying to use any small area that is plantable and use what ever scraps of materials that I can find to tend my small garden.

Last year we planted some potatoes in this general area, but they caught some virus that turned the leaves yellow and killed the plants.

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Carrot Sprouts

These little sprouts were planted over a month and a half ago. Carrots seem to take quite a while to get established. They have really taken off the past few weeks. Carrots are supposed to be a 60 day crop – obviously that is under ideal conditions. I don’t have ideal conditions where I live – it is usually too hot to grow these cool weather favorites unless I try to grow them during our coldest days of December thru February when we alternate between barely freezing and almost 70 degree days. Very erratic temps.

carrot sprouts

I am planning to reseed the bare spots and seed the other half of the raised bed. All carrots should be harvested before the really hot, miserable weather gets here – that would be about April.

If you look closely, you might be able to recognize little cos lettuce sprouts all over and in the walk way. I let many heads of lettuce go to seed this past spring and the seeds are everywhere. The onions are last year’s that were left after the harvest. If onions aren’t harvested before the hot weather sets in, they lose their greens and hide out in the dirt until the cooler weather of the fall gets here.

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Carrot Harvest Time

Originally published June 2011

It’s time to harvest the last of the carrots.  It is getting too warm, so up they come, ready or not.

Carrot harvest time

This bunch is from the green house. Our last 2 winters were colder than normal and killed all of the carrots that usually grow outside. These are mostly Little Finger and a French round carrot. Around February, I planted a longer carrot outside in my back garden. I can’t recall the proper name, but they grew to about 6 inches. I shouldn’t be afraid to plant long carrots in my soil – it is heavily composted and at least 12 inches of soft soil. To grow longer carrots, you need at least 12 to 18 inches of soft soil.

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