Monday, November 11, 2013

Well Grounded

Well Grounded: a Carrot Reflection

Well Grounded: Deeply rooted to thrive during dry times

The upcoming theme for the PFI winter conference is Well Grounded. Here is a short reflection from this past growing season that connects with the theme.

When the growing season started this spring, I wondered if I would harvest any crops with the amount of rain I was receiving this year. But one hopes and continues to plant though it is tempting to give into despair.

I lost virtually all of my garlic crop to yellow asters disease. My potatoes were planted in a slightly low lying area so I thought I would lose them all and nearly did. Sweet potatoes too were planted in muck and that pretty much described the harvest: mucky, yucky the worst ever for me. I kept planting my carrots though and decided after two years of disaster of poor germination due to heat in July I planted my fall Bolero carrots early in late June and beginning of July. Sure enough I had good stands.

Who would have thought that someone would be turning off the faucet? From mid-June to mid-August. not a drop of water fell on my parcel of land here in Central Iowa? Yet the carrot tap roots kept going down and down for that moisture in our beautiful 4-5 feet of top soil. I have pulled out tap roots in the past that were 5-6 feet long! My organic soils have 6-8% organic matter and certainly that makes a difference for the top foot of soil. With one inch of rain in August and another inch the second week of September, then a few more small rains at the beginning of October my carrot crop not only survived, but thrived. I had one of the best carrot crops in my limited history here both in abundance and quality.

While on some level I consider it a miracle I do know that years of improving the soil makes a significant difference. It also proves that when one is well grounded/deeply rooted in place it is easier to survive the dry times in one’s life.

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