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Posts Tagged ‘carrots’

Seasons change, as they say.  But in this past few months when the leaves were turning colors and frost was putting an end to the gardening season, I was going through a lot of changes of my own.  The political consulting firm I worked for shut its doors and I found myself not just looking for work, but also looking for answers to some questions brewing in my mind.  Do I want to keep working in politics?  Or maybe do something a little different?  Do I want to stay in DC?  Try out some new city?  Or maybe go back to my native Pacific Northwest?

True to my want-it-all generation, I found myself answering “yes” to all of those seemingly mutually exclusive questions.  And then I received a terrific opportunity that let me have it all.  I’m moving to Portland, Oregon, for eight months to work on post-Census redistricting, which will keep me connected to politics but let me develop a lot of new skills in statistics and demography (and form my own consulting LLC in the process).  But I’ll be back in DC on a regular basis, and will return to my lovely (now subletted) Dupont Circle apartment after this is all over.  Relevant to this blog, I’m going to keep my garden plot (but make it really minimalist this year), and will remain actively involved in planning the next DC State Fair.

So as with the past few months, 2011 will be a bit of a hibernation for this blog.  I’ll post a few garden updates in the spring and summer, do a a tiny bit of posting about Portland, and help advertise DC State Fair events and deadlines.  And if I take this round-the-world tour of the world’s street food capitals next Oct/Nov that I’ve been dreaming about, I’ll post my culinary adventures here as well.  Expect a return to full DC gardening glory in 2012.

But for now, let me show you the last thing I made with my garden’s 2010 bounty.  Just before I left DC on December 21, I went out one last time to my garden plot, which was blanketed by an inch of snow.  But under the icy crust there were carrots, leeks, and the sweetest kale you can imagine.  I combined these ingredients with rich stock, cannellini beans,  sweet Italian sausage, and bacon to make a Tuscan soup that fed me for three solid meals.  It was the perfect way to close out my garden, and a satisfying way to leave DC for my 2011 adventure.  Happy New Year!

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This bunny likes my carrots!

This season hasn’t been great for my carrot patch.  It was too hot, and there were too many spells when it didn’t rain and I didn’t have time to water.  So my carrots never got big and juicy.  Last weekend I decided to pull up whatever little runty carrots that were left and put in some new seeds for fall.

The carrots I pulled were kind of starchy, nothing special.  But I knew one customer who’d like them anyway.  I just so happen to know someone with a pet rabbit, so I’ve been giving her my carrot thinnings and extra carrot greens throughout the season.  So even though these last carrots were a little sub-par for human consumption, the bunny certainly liked them.  He took one under a piece of furniture and seemed very concerned that we were going to take it back from him:

It’s a good lesson.  If life gives you a bad carrot season, make bunny food.

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Well then.  After a few weeks of heat and  drought, now the flood.  Water is literally leaking into my bedroom right now through the crack in the fire escape door.  The storm is also bad news for those of us who wanted to go see the outdoor screening of Buena Vista Social Club tonight.  But it’s very good news for my garden.  Having multiple days of soaking rain is going to fatten up my carrots and beets and onions, make my basil succulent and green, and probably bring on a good second crop of beans.  And while it’ll cause a lot of splitting in my tomatoes now, it’ll mean more fat tomatoes later.  So on balance I’m pro-rain.  And I do love a big, bright, loud thunderstorm!

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On Friday after work I zipped out to my garden, hoping to do a little weeding before the sun went down (and to avoid going out there in this weekend’s oppressive heat and humidity).   I ended up spending most of the time harvesting a huge amount of produce that was absolutely ready to be picked/dug/thinned/etc.  My yellow string beans, in particular, are insane!  Last weekend I got about a pound and a half, and this weekend I probably got about three pounds!  I also got new potatoes, Swiss chard, salad greens, baby carrots, little shallots, basil, dill, rosemary, and a whole mess of mint.

Not pictured: my first cherry tomatoes of the season, which I ate along with some more beans, potatoes, and salad greens in a salade Niçoise as soon as I got home.  Still, can you believe all this?  In total, I brought home 6.5 pounds of vegetables from my garden – I know, because I sneakily weighed my sack of produce at the Wisconsin Avenue Giant before I headed home.  Good thing I can bring a lot of it to my friend’s birthday picnic tomorrow, or else I’d have way too much food on my hands.  My garden is definitely more productive this year.  I wasn’t getting heavy harvests like this until much later in the season last year.

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I went out to my garden plot yesterday, thinking that maybe the snow would have finally melted enough for me to plant some sprouting potatoes.  I also thought I might be able to pull up some overwintered carrots.    Unfortunately, this is what I saw:

I was able to clear away enough snow to sow my potatoes, but finding hidden carrots was not going to happen.  So February marks the first month in which I got zero harvest out of my garden.

Still, I think it’s pretty cool that I got ANYTHING in January and December.  In December I was still harvesting tender salad greens, even if it meant clearing off snow to do it.  And at a few points in December and January I pulled up crunchy, delicious overwintered carrots and  frost-sweetened kale.

My January carrot harvest: small, but so delicious. Next year I need to plant them earlier so they can get bigger before the frost.

Steamed kale was delicious on top of a creamy kabocha squash risotto in December.

I don’t think I’ll get anything from the garden in March, either, unless the arugula  seeds I sprinkled on a bare patch of dirt yesterday somehow germinate unusually quickly.  But by April I will be pulling early lettuces and arugula and radishes (at least, if last year is any indication).   And I could always buy some turnips at the market and plant them and get some turnip greens in fairly short order, although that kind of feels like cheating.  My point is, in this area it’s totally possible to have a productive garden 9 or 10 months of the year.  Maybe next winter I’ll invest in some row covers and extend the season even more.

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I sowed my fall beets and carrots at the beginning of September.  I knew I really should have planted them earlier, but August was so hot and gross, and it seemed like so much work to clear away all the detritus of my summer garden.  And since it felt like it would be hot forever, I figured there would be plenty of time for my September seeds to grow and fatten up.

Alas, I don’t think I’m going to get much of a crop.  I’ve been thinning the carrots, and they’re still extremely tiny.  The beets are even sadder.  Sure, the leaves are growing, and they’re doing okay in the cold, but I don’t think the roots will fatten up before the regular frost sets in.

Ah well.  Next year I’ll prod myself into clearing out the summer stuff earlier and getting those seeds in by early August.  Live and learn.

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