Weren't they something?!
I have pretty good luck growing things, and I have a pretty green thumb. More than a few people have referred to me as a garden whisperer.
But some things seem immune to my powers. I have trouble with zucchini and summer squash. That old joke about people having so many zucchini they resort to leaving bags of them on people's doorsteps in the dark of night? That has always confused me. The humor is totally lost on me, because I have never had that problem. I get approximately six or eight zukes from a plant, if I'm lucky, before the plant succumbs to its cancerous, painful death due to squash vine borers. I've tried every trick suggested out there --
- plant them earlier or later than usual, to trick the moths that lay the eggs that become the larvae that are the borers.
- Cover the vines with sheer(ish) garden fabric to protect them from... (see above) (but then you have to lift the fabric during the day so the pollinators can get in and remember to put it down again at dusk
- put mint or sage leaves at the base of the plants to repel the moths
- co-plant nasturtiums with the squash plants to.. (see above)
The nasturtiums, in my experience, work the best. Ish. But really, they don't work so much against the squash vine borers, but more the cucumber/squash beetles. 'coz if the borers don't get us, the beetles will, without the nasturtia.
So now back to the carrots. I don't believe it's the stones in the soil. I used to believe it was that -- plus, my soil natively is heavy clay. Horrible, horrible, hard, cold, unfertile stuff that won't grow much of anything.
But that explains why I have the raised beds, and the raised beds are all filled with gorgeous sandy loam with a high content of organic matter. So then I read over the years that perhaps for carrots there should not be much organic content. So I got some special soil for one of the beds that was low in organic matter, just for carrots. There are no stones in it, but the kind of gritty sand that supposedly carrots like. I still had the same rotten luck. That was last year. In fact, I got almost no germination last year.
This year I used the same bed, and I used heirloom multi-colored carrot seeds. I got good germination, and I thought things were going along nicely until I started pulling a few test samples. Then I saw that the same things were happening.
I believe I'm infested with root-knot nematodes. Well, not me, but my soil. So I could maybe go out and buy this expensive stuff to use. I've also read that planting marigolds in and around the carrots will help to repel the nematodes. And I could keep beating my head against the wall trying to grow carrots. (I might. Because I'm a gardener, and gardeners are a little bit into self-torture.)
I could get tall buckets and send away to England for some supposedly special carrot-growing soil and grow the carrots like this guy (Photo nabbed from that blog post without permission, because WHAT.A.GREAT.PHOTO! I hope they don't mind.) Thanks, Emma, for pointing this out! But then I'd have to remember to water the buckets -- that is a downside to container gardening for me. I'm a gardener, but not THAT kind of a gardener. Heh.
Or I might just say screw it, use the space for something else, and leave the carrot-growing to others who can do it. I have to have something to buy when I visit the farmer's market, no?