Handling crop-flops with aplomb

941494_10151935837896311_1363179558_nAfter 3 years of writing weekly articles for the local paper I feel confident in my ability to make a 600 word article out of just about anything. The first step is to sit down and begin typing. A lot can happen in a short amount of time – usually within 15 minutes my interest is piqued and the article blooms. I think in fact, that I could make 600 words out of a tin can and a bit of duct tape but perhaps I won’t.

I don’t think pride in my abilities is going to help me get this thing written however, judging by the difficulties I am having getting it done.

In my last article, I might have given the impression that it was written in an hour, and that is just not true. It probably took less than an hour to type all the words out, but an entire week passed before I agreed with myself to send it off. I thought about it all the time during that week. I had it almost memorized.

helmers_farmPride go-eth before a fall (such a difficult lesson to learn) and I also thought I would be good at growing beets, but I am not. We got 400lbs per row of carrots, and 80lbs for the same length row of beets. That is terrible. Total crop-flop.
I didn’t know (ignorance the usual banana peel but anything can happen) two very important things. The first was that beet seed comes as a cluster of beet seeds. It is not just one little seed, as the carrot seed is. Therefore the beets really should be thinned, even if they are planted with a belt planter designed to remove the need for thinning. They might have been a little crowded.

beet seeds 2They also like a lot of organic matter. Tons of organic matter. Deprived of both space and substance, my beets are mostly too small, with a few heartbreakingly beautiful large ones. Next year I will provide lashings of manure.

The celeriac is also a crop-flop, failing to live up to the early season expectations. The problem with celeriac is that they like too many things and it’s a challenge to provide for that. It’s worth the effort however, as the bidding wars between fancy chefs anxious to get their hands on it is a balm to the scraped and bruised farmer ego. Mine, anyways.

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Celeriac grows really well when it’s started inside in early February on the dining room table and planted outside on or around the morning of May 21st with ¾ of a shovel-full of 5 year old manure upon which to nestle. Each plantlet (by now at a size equivalent to your larger late teen) requires the silty-loam tilth be arranged in the form of a dish to receive the water, and that to be provided at least daily until August by a crop-dedicated hose held by the hand of the grower at a slightly-more-than-a-trickle rate. Hay consisting of both red and white clover, Timothy, Perennial Rye and Orchard Grass should be arranged voluptuously around each plant with no hay strands actually touching the celeriac leaf. Weeds should never at any time be found growing anywhere within celeriac area.

The celeriac fate was sealed early this year when sister Jennie threw out half the starts. It was late May, they were roughing it in the greenhouse and had barely managed to germinate as they had not been planted until April. She felt that we didn’t have time for all that celeriac.

I won’t go on to describe the ensuing growing conditions faced by the crop other than to say that it might have been a little over-heated too.

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