Field Notes: What's with all the carrots?
We want to thank all who support Spade & Plow Farms. Moreover, we want to thank you for eating all the carrots supplied in the CSA boxes, chef orders, and farmers markets. We know it has been a larger amount than usual.
The unforeseeable high-yield of carrots had many constituents over the past three months. First, as we all can attest to, we had a lot of rain this winter! This caused a set back in the planting and therefore the early yielding of carrots. However, the carrot plantings did very well at the end of the rainy season. Although we did not anticipate how well they would really do! In April, we had our first yield count at 200 bunches per bed. Now we are counting 1700 bunches per bed as of the beginning of June! Why this may seem overwhelming, it is actually fantastic news for the farmer, and to all of our market customers and chefs. With a higher yield, we can harvest faster. This has set a new standard for what we can produce while saving on time, capacity and food costs.
Within the realm of possibilities, we worked to define what new methods would benefit the plot and what was necessary for prospective carrot yields. In the past, we used coated seeds where the seeds are coated with the fertilizer. We NOW use RAW seeds for better sowing and germination. We have selected better methods in bed preparation and fertilization which promote the carrots to thrive in nutrient-dense soil. Weed pressure was another obstacle to tackle as they can overwhelm any crop, but especially crops that need room in the soil to grow. We’ve made a lot of improvements to weed suppression by mechanically cultivating and hand weeding early and often, as well as through a process called burning. We’ve started burning after we seeded to help knock out any weeds that pop up after the initial watering.
While we are satisfied with these improvements, the process has taught us the importance of patience. Good things come with time and knowing what modifications we made to our routine helps us to plan and forecast our next harvest. Because small changes to bed-prep or irrigation are not noticed right away, we were committed to recording what process we put into effect. Now we can look back three months to a year to see what worked to create more yield. Going forward, we will grow more rainbow carrot varieties to maintain diversity in our seed selection and more colors on your plate. We should see these new developments starting in the fall. Depending on the variety, these carrots will take 2 to 4 months to mature, so stay tuned folks!