On Saturday I got out to visit Kristjan at Sharing Farm to put up their carrot isolation structure and check in on the crop. The carrots are growing well there. But there are some things of note:
The control plot has been ravaged by evil rabbits and is down to 3 plants, so effectively we are without a control crop at Sharing Farm. But we are considering rabbit stew.
In the isolation tent, the carrots are split up into two beds. One of the beds shows really good growth while the carrots in the other bed are a bit behind. The better performing bed is one that was already in existence while the other one was formed just for this project. This suggests for future research that the work should be done in an already established area.
One of the carrots in the poorer performing bed is about to flower and one in the better performing bed is definitely putting up a flowering stem. So we will need to get pollinators in here very soon! I would expect a long flowering period for the Sharing Farm. We can pollinators shipped overnight and can keep them in the fridge for a week or two to stop their growth until they are needed.
We will bring the pollinators in as pupae which will then hatch into adult flies. To keep the population going we will feed them raw meat and create a good environment for breeding. This way we only need to bring them in once or twice as opposed to purchasing them on an ongoing basis. There has not been enough time to experiment well with attracting wild pollinators.
Because the plants are close to flowering we will leave the isolation structure up and the crew here will anchor it down this week.
So this week will likely be our first flowering date. We will then record when the crops are in full flower and when they are done. We can use local weather station data to record temp. and humidity even though conditions will be slightly different in the structure. The data will at least give us the general trend of the weather for the season even if it is not specific for the site and inside the structure. We can contrast this with last year’s weather data which was very hot and dry.
In the structure it can get warmer as there is reduced airflow allowing the area to better hold heat. Temperature control is important in carrot seed production as they do not pollinate well when the temp gets above 35C. Richmond does not get as warm as the Fraser Valley, but it can still get quite hot.
Putting up the structure here was quite easy. We used the same 2’ anchors we used with Pitchfork Farm. When we put them into the ground we angled them slightly inwards so when we put the top poles onto the structure they were all held together by the tension. This makes the structure a little more sturdy.
One thing which needs to be considered when crop planning is how many stecklings to plant and thus how many stecklings to grow. In our planning we basically planned to have enough stecklings for the structure and the control, without much of a buffer. But in terms of having sufficient stecklings for a good crop, it might be best to grow out twice as much as you need and when planting plant twice as much or 50% more than you need to account for losses. Then, once the best plants are established you can cull out the extras so there is not overcrowding. Care just needs to be taken when culling to not disturb the neighbouring plants. This may take extra time and have some extra cost, but in the long run should help ensure a better return, by ensuring there is a full greenhouse structure of carrots and there is sufficient population size.