Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Magic of Legumes and Wonky Carrots!

I pulled out the first batch of peas this past week.. It was our Super Sugar Snap's - over 7 feet tall! - and I miss them already! I do have another crop planted for a mid-Sept harvest, but they're a short-season shell pea, which although yummy, doesn't compare to Super Sugar Snap - our family's favourite.

You might wonder what the photo above has to do with peas.. but this is a photo of just one of the many reasons that I love peas! You also might have noticed similar nodules on the roots of your own peas (or beans, for that matter!). Inside these nodules are BILLIONS of Rhizobium bacteria - a beneficial bacteria that can 'fix' nitrogen from the air and make it available to plants. When I pull up my peas and beans, I always toss the nodule-coated roots back into the soil to ensure that there will be plenty of bacteria to 'inoculate' future legume crops.

To follow the peas, I've planted some purple kohlrabi and salad greens - to take advantage of the increased nitrogen in the soil! I just love these dense clumps of the nodules - working hard in my garden!

Another garden curiosity are wonky carrots! These three carrots are all 'Napoli' carrots - our favourite type.. the two on the left were grown in clay soil that is rocky and has hard soil clumps.. the one on the right was grown in a raised bed with loose, loamy soil that was enriched with aged compost.. Quite the difference, eh? It just goes to show you that a little extra time and care that is taken before planting can make a huge difference when it's time to harvest.

And, since I'm talking about carrots, it's almost time to seed fall and winter carrot crops! I usually sow the seed of our fall/winter carrots in early August in the garden and the uncovered cold frames.. a little work now, will pay off big time when the snow flies and you can still enjoy garden fresh carrots! Plus, the cold weather boosts the sugar content, making winter carrots super sweet!

Happy Gardening!

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