Surprise Carrots

What do you get when you plant carrots in March and dig them up in February?

Carrots, apparently.


I sowed my carrot seeds last spring with no method to the madness. I picked a carrot spot and just blanketed it in seeds. A thick patch came up, and every now and then, I’d pick the biggest one or two and eat them, making room for the smaller ones to grow.

It was a decent system, but it got away from me. November came, and it got dark and cold. And then my hoop house failed spectacularly. The carrots were still growing, but I wasn’t feeling it anymore.

Then the real cold came, and a few snowstorms. In the back of my mind, I knew those carrots were still down there, but I gave up on them. I didn’t know if they were frozen or mush, but I knew they were beyond help.

Turns out they weren’t!

The weather today was beautiful. I went down just to take stock, and I came back with something like ten pounds of carrots.

Some have split.


Some have really split.


Some are big.


Some are small.


And some are strange.


But most are basically happy and healthy. I cut off the tops, rubbed off the dirt, and stuffed them in a bag in the crisper.


We’re gonna have a heck of a roast one of these days.


The hoop house has irrigation! Possibly.

There is a system in place that may prove itself in time. But time is running out! Today I caught these guys beating a quick retreat.


Honestly, the irrigation is more important for me than for the plants. It’s a pain to open up that tent and water. And before long the city will turn off the water in the garden for the winter, meaning I’ll have to schlep water from home. It’s important for the plants because the easier things are, the less likely I am to skip a day or five and let them dry up.

Here’s a layout of the equipment as suggested by Ben, who’s a little more orderly than I am. We bought a 25-foot permeable hose that’s designed for slow-release, long distance watering. We also got two connectors that would thread into each other, and a bunch of rubber washers. Basically, we needed to create a tightly sealed passage through a hole in the bottom of the bucket leading into the hose. We just winged it in the garden hose section, but if you’re looking to have an easier time, this would probably do it.

Not pictured is Home Depot’s greatest marketing scheme, the trusty and unmistakable orange 5 gallon bucket. Maybe you don’t have them where you are, but they’re three dollars and versatile and in New England you can’t move for them.


We drilled a hole through the bottom of the bucket and pushed one connector through with a washer attached, creating a seal inside the bucket. Another washer went on the outside, which you can see here.


We screwed the two connectors together, tightening them to create a good seal.


The seal was not as good as we’d hoped. It took a few trial fillings and a few replacement washers to get it right.


Once we were convinced no water was escaping, we installed the whole thing in the hoop house. We fit the bucket just inside the tent in the hope that the water won’t freeze as quickly this way. We perched it on a milk crate so gravity will build up some pressure. That’s my biggest concern: Will lifting the water a foot off the ground be enough to push it to the plants that are 25 feet away?


I filled it up with a few gallons of water on Sunday morning, and despite a slow start, by Monday morning the water was gone! Those few gallons had gone somewhere, and I think it was exactly where I wanted it to go.


This hose truly is slow release. It seems to be full of water and ever-so-slowly beading it out. To human me, this seems like an unconscionably hard way to get a drink. But to the plants, this might be just fine, and preferable to waiting for me to get around to watering them.

One area I’m worried about is the container section. The hose takes a steep climb to get to these guys, and while there’s plenty of water seeping out farther down the line, this section is bone dry. Is this something to do with the pressure needed for the elevation change? Ben’s officially a physics PhD candidate now – figuring this out will be his assignment.


Apart from in that one elevated section, the hose seems to be doing its job. My main worry now is that there isn’t enough of it. Twenty-five feet of hose for a forty square foot area may not be enough, particularly with a drip this slow. 20151011_124218For the moment I’m going to wait it out and see how well the plants fare with no additional watering. With the plastic roof and constant water flow, I may wind up creating a self-contained ecosystem. A little bio-dome.


If the nuclear fallout comes, I’m gonna go live with the vegetables.