We’ve been busy this spring planting and being patient for the weather to warm up. One of our major projects last Monday was planting the spring carrot bed. We also have realized that this planting utilized most of our favorite tools, so we decided to share the process here, in a blog.
These 5 rows where used last season for red and yellow storage onions and was harvested last August, after harvest we laid down a silage tarp, a thick heavy duty tarp that smothers the weeds and allows the bed to rest. The technical term for this is occultation. In addition to smothering out weeds it raises the soil temperature, trapping in moisture to create a perfect environment for beneficial soil microbes and macrobes.
The very beginning of our planting day we removed the silage tarp and used the flame weeder to burn down the remaining weeds and weed seeds. The flame weeder is a backpack holding a propane tank and a flame throwing wand; it’s loud, heavy, but it’s affects are easily visible. These 2 practices allow us to control weed growth without harmful herbicides or back breaking hand weeding.
After ridding the bed of weeds we used a broad fork to aerate the soil, while loosening the hard clay crust of the soil. The aeration that the broad fork creates allows oxygen flow to plant root systems as well as eases water pooling in the plant row.
Broad forks are better for the soil ecology because mechanical tillage, with a tractor or tiller, usually flip the soil over bringing with it all the soil life that is busy creating a deeper topsoil and soil nutrition, as well as creating a hard pan about 10-12″ that roots cant penetrate. On a grander scale tillage releases gaseous carbon than binds with oxygen to create carbon dioxide. Figures suggest that the big AG industry creates up to 50% of all green house gasses.
Next up in the spring carrot story is compost and fertilizer. We added about 2 wheel borrows full of compost to each of the 5 rows about 1-2″. The fertilizer we use is Nature’s Safe. It’s made mostly from blood meal, feather meal, and bone meal.
After application of compost and fertilizer we used a hard rake to gently create an even spread of the soil amendments across the beds, its time to plant the seed !
We used 2 types of carrot seed for our spring planting – Ya Ya, and Napoli, both purchased from Johnny’s.
This is an exciting time, because now we get to use the Jang seeder – a hand powered 2 wheel cart of sorts that smoothly creates a furrow, drops the seeds, and covers the seed with dirt. This is especially helpful with carrots because the seeds are about the size of the head of a pin, and easy to drop all over the place, creating the need for thinning and wasting seed. We planted 4 rows of carrot seed in each of the 5 beds – if all goes well we will harvest 100# of carrots !
The final steps in planting our carrot bed are: putting down a row cover to raise the temperature, protecting against the lingering cold nights, and a deep watering, but fortunately, Mother Nature took care of that one for us!