I will not be doing 2 blogs a week very often, but as it is go time for getting gardens in, I thought I would share this one now. Carrots, beets and summer turnips seem like they should be an easy thing to plant, however, there are some tricks to get nice even, big carrots and beets.
Of course, variety is one consideration. I like the cylinder style beets, and Nante carrots. However, this is not the biggest factor in big beets and carrots (unless it is actually a small variety!).
Rows that you can walk in between are not the best for these veggies as the soil gets compacted around the root, and you want the root to grow down into the ground. I used to plant in rows as a newbie and I kept getting carrots that looked amazing when they were in the ground… nice big round top popping out, with a great big head of green, lush hair! Then I would pull them out to find super stubby, multi-fingered carrots. They still taste fine, but hard to process, clean, store… however, they are fun to play with as they often look like octopuses, or dancing figures, or 3 legged creatures… kids love them! The beets tend to grow OUT of the ground.
I do these veggies in plots and keep the rows of carrots fairly close. It’s much easier to weed as well as the veggies will eventually shade out the weeds. You will be picking weeds for a few weeks while your veggies grow tall enough to shade them out.
Additionally, soil can get hard quickly. I like to create a fluff to my soil by turning peet moss into the soil. (I show this process in the video.) I also make sure that they have lots of food! So, I put composted manure and actual compost in the soil as well. I do this in the fall, so you will not see that in the video. Then I add my standard bone/blood meal and epsom salts that I add to EVERYTHING in the garden.
After it is all mixed in, I create my rows with a rake, and then plant the seeds, lightly covering them and then watering them. Try to keep the watering consistent throughout their growing season. This will also encourage a nice big, tasty veggie (or nice round one for round beets or turnips). Also, at the side of each row, leave a couple inches of dirt, or leave a bit of a trench after you put your seeds in. You will have soil to hill the beets and encourage water to stay in the trench and less seeds wash away.
So… to recap, no rows… don’t walk too close to your veggies making them compacted, water consistently, weed and hill them as needed.
OH! Temperature fluctuations can also affect size of shape of your veggies, but you can’t do much about that, except don’t plant them too early! Mother Nature always comes through and whether you plant them in mid-May or early June, they seem to harvest at the same time. The advantage to June is that the whether stabilizes a bit more, making a better growing start for those delicious bites of food.
Turnips will most likely be finished by August. They do not store well.. eat them up and enjoy them.
Beets can be harvested as soon as you see those green leaves about an inch or two high. Eat the entire plant! I thin them out and eat all the thinnings raw or cooked. After they are all thinned, you can harvest a few leaves off each plant until they are ready to harvest completely. They are delicious in salad, sautéd, or boiled with salt, pepper and vinegar. Pull them out of the ground at the first sign of slugs or mice. They LOVE beets. These will store a few months in a root cellar, or can them. We also boil, BBQ, bake and make salad out of them.
Carrot green thinnings can be eaten for a couple weeks, but they get a fuzzy texture when they get too big, then it is just the actual carrot you want to eat. Pull them after the first frost. They are most delicious after the frost. Blanch or store in a root cellar. Pickle them… eat them, bake them… whatever. Carrots are good pretty much any way.
Alrighty! Happy Gardening you all!!!
P.s. If you have questions, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org