Blog : michigan

Stop planting carrots. Please.

Look I get it – you like carrots but you really don’t like carrots after you start planting them.

In my first year of doing garden installations I was so excited to go outside and help people install a garden they could harvest and hopefully learn how to grow and harvest their own food. In the business world of things it wasn’t the most thought out plan due to the fact that eventually my clientele won’t need me – but I don’t care about that.

One thing I always asked people was ‘what do you want to grow’ and then I was hit with a truck load of wants and needs and wow….we’re off running.  I never considered that I can not ask that question any more.  Due to many facts but one is that I was installing a garden and the ‘know how’ was left on me and yes I gave people this cute little printed/laminated hand off to learn quickly about their veggies and fruits but I was finding that many people did not read them – at all.

To experienced gardener carrots, beets, tomatoes, and so on always seem easy.  But if you can remember growing your first carrot – it probably didn’t go so well and if it did you only grew it once that year.

Most cold weather crops IE lettuces, alliums(onions), salad green(mustards, beet family), and carrot family need a few things to happen for great success.  One is succession and the other is thinning.  There are many other factors but those come first in my book.

Now if you’re a root vegetable lover of carrots and beets you know the pains of thinning.  Imagine you plant thousands of seeds and then in about 10 days you come back and have to ‘thin’ them out.  It’s the polite term for killing or making room so to say for the others.  Beets and carrots both need this process.  So that’s your step 2, step one was planting in the first place.

Step 3 – this step happens 10 days after you plant.  It’s call ‘succession’ growing.  You see unlike planting a tomato seed whereby you get lots of tomatoes if you plant a carrot seed you only get one carrot and there is no multiplicity to that seed.  In the long run one day well after we are gone we’ll have to consider plants and vegetation that is efficient and less time-intensive – carrots I feel won’t make that list.

So now do you still want carrots?  Is it really worth it?  Plant, thin, re-plant.  Oh and hope you’re soil is good enough due to their sensitive nature of hitting most other forms and deforming in the soil and add to that timing – these are cold weather crops that once temps stay about 60-65 day and night begin to bolt(go to seed) or full on remain in a vegetative state.  I’ve had beet seedlings grow throughout the summer and only until september they finally began to bulb out.

Yesterday I bought decent little bushel of carrots for $1 and was just discouraged for the farmer wishing he would never plant them.   Just doing the math was discouraging for me and to think I paid a dollar – for someones efforts over 40 days a dollar!

I never tell people to plant carrots because it is not worth it.  Just like lettuces.  A small discussion came up at our house yesterday about lettuces and I feel the same way about lettuces as I do carrots.  You need to have coordination, a bit of know how, and lots of lettuce to fill the shelves of your fridge and at the end of day are you really eating that many salads to want fresh lettuce every time?  I will say that fresh lettuces last longer than store bought ones and if you’re planting kales – I recommend getting your hands on some asian flowering kale.

We’re coming out with a small book in the spring of 2016 about what people should be planting in their first garden to make it worth it.  I have about a dozen books on gardening and in the back is an A-Z list of what you can grow.  Awesome, great, and who is about to do all that?  We need to show generations having a garden can be productive and life changing – and it’s not going to be with carrots.  In my garden alone I grew over 60lbs of food and I have only 60 square feet of space and that is roughly 1lb/square foot.  I feel accomplished and sure if you’re growing the big squashes you can smash that number due to overall density – I did it with tomatoes, beans, zucchini, and cucumbers.  And we never recorded herbs because that’s just takes forever.

Stay tuned, stay in touch, and lets turn a generation around by telling them the truth.

Tell me your thoughts, confessions, and triumphs and trials…I want to know.  I’d rather hear from someone who has failed as opposed to the success stories because often we learn our best from where we fail and we seem to only revel in success than learn from what we did right.

Radish Days to Harvest | 30-40 Cold Weathering crop Space 2-3" apart Succession at sign of true leaves.

A radish is a good example, the only photo I had, to give an example of why these species shouldn’t be grown by the amateur.  This radish is grown on a soil block and it took about 30 days.  1 radish 30 days.  If I planted 1 tomato I get dozens of tomatoes.  The math is better and we need to create success and not stress.  Radishes need to be sown early on to prevent bolting, and spaced out properly, and given plenty of water since its’ small roots don’t root out like tomatoes.  Still want radishes now?

Redefining community gardens.

I get asked a lot about what I do – as if bartending 40+ hours a week isn’t enough.  I garden, and some could say I am a professional gardener.  But I am not about to grow you shrubs and decor.  I want you to grow something good for you! I want you to be growing so much food you are giving it away to your family, friends, and neighbors.

What a thought right? A whole community of people, neighbors, growing food and sharing in the abundance! Can you imagine if Tom next door had the best sun so he is in charge of peppers and to know everything about peppers…and dill.  And then Susan and her husband Nick who live 3 doors down have the second best sun plus 3 kids so they get tomatoes and the kids get weeding duty! Get where I am going with this?  A community garden should not be a place we go to but where we live.  Our neighbors should be our community garden and each neighborhood designed with the ability to sufficiently grow plenty of food for all!

Don’t think it’s possible.  I put possible to the test this year.  I have 60 square feet of garden space in my rental home in Interlochen.  That is 6 raised beds each have 10 square feet.  Each bed is 7.5″ raised from the soil level up.

As of today, Friday September 18th I have harvested 55.9 pounds of produce from my garden.  That is nearly 1 pound of food per foot.  1lb = 1sq/ft.  To me that’s impressive because were not growing pumpkins or large heavy set squash.

The breakdown

27.1 lbs of TOMATOES

11.9 lbs of Zucchini

6.4 lbs of Cucumbers

2.5 lbs of Acorn Squash

8 lbs misc(documented but not detailed)

1 pound for every square foot.  I have tomatoes stuffed in drawers everywhere and I’ve even given plenty away.  We made 3 loafs of Zucchini bread and 2 dinners of Zucchini boats and still….Zucchini was around!

We never measured our herbs cause well – it takes forever and I don’t have the right scale.

You don’t need the space you think you need and you don’t need the light you think you need.  I don’t recommend growing the hard things or things that are technique very hard, surprisingly this is carrots and lettuces.

Imagine communities with 3 gardens focusing in on growing one or two things in 30 square feet.  5 houses with 3 gardens each would be 15 gardens, 150 square feet – that’s 150 pounds of produce in 5 houses.  That’s only 5 houses – not hard to do! Do it with a friend and coordinate a friend network of gardens and share in the wealth! Just give me some credit when ya do it!

I had extra space too…plenty of it! Next year we’ll shoot for 2 pounds per foot…seems crazy, but it can be done. You just have to know what you are planting.  And stop planting carrots please!

Updates, news, & the good stuff!

News and updates!
We’re excited we are coming out with two new products! Based all around recycling, growing, and supporting local markets and communities.

Grow logo_BW

More exciting is that we are bringing on retail vendors to spread the word about what we do and our products! Want to get ahold of me and talk business!

The fun is not done! Starting March 21st you can find Midnight Harvest LLC at the Traverse City Farmers’ market in the Commons at the state hospital. We will be featuring home gardens transplants, our photography, and two new products!

As always we are striving to educate with each product and each sale comes with seeds or growing information so you can become an informed home gardener!  If you’re into gardening already we encourage getting seeds now!

For now I am off to read about more soil blocking and perfecting soil recipes for the best transplants!

 
 

Verification

 
Young plants and young humans

Young plants and young humans

So this year I’ve been doing soil blocks for my seed starting.

First off if you ever get a chance to soil block – I’d recommend it.

For those of you who actually ready this and don’t know what that is – soil block is a technique small farms use to “block” or form together a custom soil mix usually compromised of a few or many organic matter/nutrients.  Predominantly made up of peat moss, it’s the binder, it ends up being very similar to peat pods(netted peat) and better yet will decompose in your garden.  Although the peat pots claim the net is “biodegradable” I’ve def found them year after year in my gardens and I don’t appreciate it.

So now I soil block.  And I love it! As the plants grow I can see their health as roots form out of the sides and bottoms.  It’s such an interesting technique and far better than using pods, plastics, and having to continually transplant into bigger planters.

But during my moments of soil block I had that “ah ha” moment of why we need so many chemicals to control plants and their vigor and health.  We are growing them up to be pansies.  Essentially what I mean is we give them these pristine environments such as perfects soils, temperature controlled, available water and we don’t let them work for their lives.  Then we throw them out into nature and all the sudden it’s “make it or break it day” when growing.  So we throw chemicals and sprays to defend its pour immune system because up until now it has not been tested.

We as humans are doing a very similar thing to our kids.  We now shelter them to never get sick and pump them full of meds and never let their immune system learn and recover.  It’s all about patch work when it comes to our immune system.

Ah – so that was my two cents after awhile.  Growing is going awesome and I am very excited for the 2015 season and going bigger this year and showcasing how great gardening can be.Photo Jan 20, 11 30 41 AM

error: Content is protected !!