Friday, July 29, 2016

This Week in the Garden: Carrots, Parsnips, and Mutants

Recent frosts, hail, and gales have taken their toll on the veggie patch, but fortunately nothing too serious.  I pulled the first carrots and parsnips from the raised bed, those with the worst wind damage to their stalks, expecting them to still be rather smallish but was surprised by how large they were! The dark black-purple pusa asita carrots in particular were ENORMOUS! The traditional heirloom orange carrots were big and fat but sweet and the parsnips lovely and long - although not (yet) quite as fat as I might like. A few of the veggies were a little "furrier" than ideal, owing to the young over-rich blend of new soil/compost in the raised beds most likely. My purple carrots were particularly furry, but nothing a good scrub and a peeler (happy dogs!) couldn't resolve.  I did discover one wild and crazy party parsnip (see it here) among all these "perfect" veggies that hubby thought was absolutely hilarious!  Boys...they never really grow up, do they? :)  I suspect this mutant parsnip was one of the thinning transplants and was tip damaged in the process.  

Veggie fun facts - aka troubleshooting your "ugly" (but still delicious!) root veggies:   
  • Split roots can be caused by damaging the tip of your developing carrots (or other root crops) primary taproot (the big root that we love to eat).  Taproot plants typically don't enjoy transplanting so if you try to salvage some thinned seedlings (like me!) you may accidentally create a few monsters in the process.
  • Crooked and split roots can also occur when the soil is hard or rocky.  The root can curve around the obstacle or split it's growth paths into "fingers". 
  • Strange lumps and bumps on the sides?  Those are likely fingers-to-be that haven't yet fully grown out.
  • Hugging veggies often develop where the seedlings are too close together.  They may grow together or entwine.
  • Hairy (excessive fine roots) carrots are often a sign that your soil (like mine) is a little too rich.  It can also occur when your veggies are under watered, but that is definitely not the case in our soggy winter garden! 

Note: While these are the usual suspects for human-error (learning) in the veggie patch, there are also insects, nematodes, and/or diseases that can affect the growth of your carrots.  If you have a bed of mutant roots, evidence of insects snacking/boring, or your veggies are also suffering from unhealthy looking leaves, look for advice on your local growing area.

Despite the wild weather, I still manged to sneak in a pretty productive winter week in the garden. After much procrastination, I took advantage of a wee little break in our wintery weather earlier this week to do some long overdue chores.  The biggie was to transplant our unhappy baby fig tree and replace the sad stick of an apricot tree that never came out of its winter planting "dormancy" last year.  There were no dwarf standard apricots available at our local nurseries, so I planted another peach instead. Fingers crossed!  The broad beans never did produce despite their excellent growth, so they were cut from the team and relegated to the compost bin during their week's clean-up and mini-weed.  The winter weed war continues, but my procrastination is high and motivation low in cold wet winter weather.  

What's happening in and around your garden this week?  Whatever your garden/green news, we would love to hear about it. Please leave a comment or post us a message on the GiRL Facebook page I look forward to sharing our garden with you as it grows.  

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