When searching for a property to call our own two years ago, we stomped over many an acreage considering aspects and undergrowth, pulling burrs from our hair as we emerged from rain-soaked woods. Inevitably we would find ourselves with fork in hand, turning the sleeping earth in search of the kind of soil that would support a family. Silently, we asked ourselves: could there be a garden here? Was there ever a garden here? Could we make a garden happen here, despite rock and sand and no sign of loam for miles?
Upon viewing this property, we found what we were looking for. The soil was hiding under a dense sprawl of blackberry bramble and couch grass, but there was no mistaking the sight of that black stuff, layered like a moist chocolate cake. In went the digging fork, and silently we listened. No “clang” of rock to indicate boulders the size of your average Christmas turkey. No ”thunk” of stone to suggest an old riverbed once crossed this land on its journey to the sea.
“This is good. This is very, very good!” I said to Patrick.
Despite the couch grass and a series of garden pests we are just getting to know, those first impressions are proving to be right. (A backup soil analysis also helped.) These days we are surprised by the amount of food still in the garden. Despite wishing we could extend our harvests and feed ourselves more fully in the past, we never actually had much success until now.
Last weekend we brought in the carrots. Signs of wireworm in two of three patches was enough to get us digging up those golden fingers and putting them by for winter. Take no chances, I always say, at least when it comes to a crop like this one. And since our children certainly eat carrots (do they ever), we packed them into totes, shared them among our gardening family, and put the rest in storage. (In our case, storage is an old, decommissioned freezer.)
The harvest coincided with a shifting of the chickens, who were ready for new ground. We opened up a section of the garden to let them do their work. (They do get excited by all this earth-turning.) We also moved their fence, which is is electro-mesh to protect them from the multitude of predators that roam this land.
But back to the carrots: although I appreciate a spicy carrot soup or carrot muffins, warm from the oven (or just about anything else you can do with these lovelies), our family’s favorite thing is this: scrub them raw, slice them thin, and eat. Nothing says “yum” like a fresh carrot in winter.
And we will make them last as long as we can.
How do you like to eat your carrots?