Dad always seemed to have a knack for growing vegetables. We kept the garden watered and hoed, but everything just seemed to grow. When I moved to Georgia I expected everything to grow – but better- because its warmer than West Virginia. Boy was I wrong. It seems that vegetables, shrubs and flowers are always suffering from drought, flood, grub worms or flocks of blackbirds.
One of the first things planted in my Georgia garden were carrots. Mound the dirt, cut a trench, plant, and water – easy enough, or so I thought. Until fall 2016, I grew only a handful of carrots, but this year everything came together and the carrots did very well!
For garden V.2, planted in September, we spent more time preparing the ground for plants. First off, the garden was in the wrong place for years. The backyard has a slight slope, and lies downhill from several other yards and a road. Several times a year I have flooding of 5″ or more. This has washed all the topsoil away from most of my yard, leading me to construct a series of drainage basins, ditches and elevation changes to divert the water through and out of the yard. After studying the water flow, I found a 20x30ish section of yard that retained quite a few feet of topsoil. We removed grass and weeds, added manure and plowed it twice.
In addition, I read that gardeners in my area have good luck with Nantes carrots. They are shorter than what I have been trying to grow- and sure enough they gave me a crop 10x better than the closest competitor. Dad also told about my Grandfathers trick to raise carrots. After he plants the seeds, he laid a piece of wood on top of each row to apply pressure to the row. When you can pick up the board and see seedlings about 1/4 long you remove the boards and water. The reasoning was that having that board prevents early plant growth and promotes root growth. Whether or not that is sound advice I don’t know, but I do know that my crop was great this year, and I did follow that advice.
Part of the crop was cleaned up and taken to lunch in place of baby carrots from the store. The other part of the crop was cleaned, cut up, and was put in the freezer. For freezing the carrots, I followed a process outlined in this article by Getty Stewart. Don’t bypass the ice bath step. I ran my carrots under cool water but they were still warm and it made it much harder to get all of the air out of the bags before freezing.
After seeing the results of the garden after amending the soil, I remembered how much time dad spent working the dirt. That’s probably the reason I remember everything growing so well and so easily.