It had to happen, right? I had to get something else edible from my first summer of amateur cultivation? Well that something turns out to be carrots, Nantes 5 carrots specifically and I am still reeling in the thrill of that little harvest 2 weeks ago.
After tiny onions, sludge ridden herbs and desolated cabbage and radish patches I was ready to call in the crazy pavers. But low, behold, what I thought was going to be one massive stumpy specimen and a load of tiddlers came forth as a respectable crop of about a kilo of carroty goodness. These were grown from 1/4 of my ground patch and one patio pot, and half of that quarter of the veg patch was dug up by Moby Dick The Phantom Crapper (who is still out of sight and pooing on someone else’s parade yay!). In summary: a more than satisfactory harvest.
As one might expect, the bigger carrots came from the ground patch where they were planted straight in the soil from seeds in late April and watered reasonably frequently. I fed them with a fruit & veg specific plant food maybe twice in the late spring before I forgot that I had it. Similar treatment for the pot, both were in a semi-shaded area of the garden and didn’t seem to suffer from the slugs or the blackfly that set up residence in the once glorious lettuce sector. The pot crop, as seen above, stayed fairly small over the same period of time as those in the ground- I’m guessing due to less available nutrition in less soil rather than space for greenery to catch the sun as they seemed to sprout about the same time as those in the ground. Infact the above ground leaves were all about the same size until the sun and rain extravaganza that was August, when those in the patch had a real growth spurt that the potted ones didn’t keep up with. I had expected the smaller pot dwellers to be sweeter but they had a very similar but more shallow flavour to the larger ones. Those ones from the patch were huge, nobbly and the embodiment of all the lofty middle class reasons you have recently been told by the mass media to eat up your wonky veg. They taste fantastic- robust and hefty in, well, carrot flavour with an almost floral undertone. Absolutely beautiful and, even without my mother’s bias, much more flavoursome than anything I’ve bought home from Morrisons this season. They were scrubbed and grated and ended their time on this world with the great honour of becoming the bulk of a Gizzi Erskine carrot & lentil soup. Barring a winter cabbage resurrection I think I might do a whole patch of them next year due to them being so low effort and apparently resistant to the slimy little nibblers out there. If you want to try your own you can get a small pack of 3-400 seeds from your local Fothergill’s stand for about £2.
Inevitably everything else out in the garden is still dead or dying. The blackcurrants never seemed to ripen, going from hard and sour to dried and dead more or less overnight. The near-drowned rosemary bush has recovered in physical form but smells and tastes of very little so we will leave him to recover for the rest of the year now. The figs went from green to oozing and rotten also very quickly and have only been tasted by our increasingly fat resident wood pigeon. We still don’t talk about the plums.
On the plus my window sill chilli continues to fruit well with tiny but feisty little red peppers and the pear tree is beginning to bend over ‘neath the massive weight of the numerous and rock-hard crop it has brought forth. I will give these until the very end of the sunshine before trying to harvest them, hopefully for lots of chutney and some kind of pear brandy concoction which my dear father had suggested and thus condemned himself to for a Christmas present. Errol the lemon tree is enjoying a final glut of rays before he comes in (and hopefully survives) for the winter.
See you soon for tales of the cutting back and pear moonshine efforts.