Wanna hear a riddle?

Do you know the one about the carrot?

Cut your wood to size
Cut your wood to size

Well actually, it is not all that funny.  I take my carrots very seriously indeed.  So while I was still in the construction mood and the throbbing in my thumb from the wildly swinging hammer had died down, I looked at the left over wood and thought hmmm…

... and make a frame ...
… and make a frame …

It is often no good when I think “hmmm” because “let’s give it a whirl” follows shortly thereafter.  But I pushed on and came up with a plan to build a riddle.  A riddle is just a fancy word for a soil sieve.  But it makes you sound more knowledgeable if you use the correct terminology, besides, it is such a silly word and I just like using it!

... secure a wire mesh...
… secure a wire mesh…

I used my wheelbarrow as a kind of template, as the riddle needs to sit on top.  I made it a little wider because I really need a new wheelbarrow and don’t know what size it will be as I have yet to choose one.   I actually have two wheelbarrows which are wonkier than my garden and not in a wonderful way.  One has a flat tire, a cracked pan and one handle.  The other has a flat tire, a cracked pan and no handles.  I think next time I may need to opt for quality.  But in the meantime I am still using them both!

... nearly done...
… nearly done…

I built a wooden frame that would sit comfortably on top of a wheelbarrow – any wheelbarrow and then lined the bottom with wire mesh.  I trimmed all the edges and bent them over so I wouldn’t hurt myself any more than I have already this season.  We are on day one of spring so this does not bode well for a safe gardening season.  I think I need one of those health and safety signs that say 0 days since last accident.  Actually no, not such a good idea.

... give an edge, to stop it sliding off...
… give an edge, to stop it sliding off…

Then I put strips of wood down the long sides so when in mid sift the riddle doesn’t slide off the top of the wheelbarrow.  And that was it.  Simple.

... And there you have the punchline... a fabulous riddle
… And there you have the punchline… a fabulous riddle.

The next thing to do was give it a whirl.  I couldn’t wait.  I put it on top of the wheelbarrow and wobbled my way to the new carrot bed.  This was where the potato bed was last year.  It makes sense to follow the carrots after the spuds as you have to loosen the soil to harvest the spuds and carrots love loose soil.

Prepare for carrots by digging down to a spades depth
Prepare for carrots by digging down to a spades depth… or more if you want longer carrots

I had grown a mustard cover crop over the winter to clear up any lingering Solanaceae bad guys and their undesirable followers.  But knowing carrots don’t like too much organic material, I dug the material into the bed where the peppers once were so any knock on effects of the mustard will rub off on Solanaceae greeblies lingering there.

... pass the soil through the riddle...
… pass the soil through the riddle… or get someone else to…

Aside from the possible cleansing effect, the mustard kept the bed relatively weed free over the long winter months and so all I needed to do was fluff up the bed.  But carrots hate lumps and bumps and sticks and stones and will fork if their roots encounter any on the way down.  So this is where the riddle comes in.  For about a spades depth or as long as I want my carrots, I dug up the soil and passed it through the riddle.  All the stones and detritus that would hinder the growth of lovely straight carrots left in the riddle were then removed from the garden area.

... and watch the lovely fluffy soil emerge into the wheelbarrow.
… and watch the lovely fluffy soil emerge into the wheelbarrow.

The lovely rich soil that fell into the wheelbarrow was then gently put back into the garden bed ready for the carrots to grow unhindered.  Although as the potatoes and the mustard will have depleted some of the essentials for life from the soil, I will ever so carefully feed the soil with some balanced fertiliser, sort of like folding whipped egg whites into a cake batter, so as not to destroy the fluffy texture.

Ever so gently return the soil to the garden
Ever so gently return the soil to the garden, and now you are ready for carrots!

The next step from here will be sowing the seeds.

Come again soon – spring has sprung and I’m full of all the clichés of a new season!

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

14 thoughts on “Wanna hear a riddle?

  1. Awesome, I have one of those, a tad smaller, sit comfortably in the wheelbarrow – can lift and shake too, works well 🙂
    cannot wait to use it, everything outside is so wet and gluey still 🙁

    1. I know what you mean Dina. We have had so much rain the water table is above the lawn! It will be days before I can work in the garden without squashing the soil. Provided it doesn’t rain again!
      Happy Spring
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  2. I’m impressed by the amount of effort you put in Sarah. I’d just settle for carrots as they come!

      1. Hi Gene I was wondering about that too, so I looked at the calendar and the potatoes still have three weeks to go. The tomato was a bit of a fail – it just got too cold in there one night and it never really recovered. So I can get away with it in a mild winter, but you never know how it will turn out – so you just have keep trying.
        Cheers Sarah : o )

  3. Sarah, I love your riddle, your cliche’s and all the goodies I learn when I read your posts. I didn’t realize that carrots were so fussy about the soil, but this explains a lot. I grew them one year from small starter plants, failing to realize that they needed thinning. I pulled them up too early and it was kind of down hill from there. If we get the promised El Nino, I’m going to plant them again following all your good advice.

    As for sifting soil into fine planting mix, it is one of my favorite activities. It’s therapeutic.

    That lucky boy!

    1. Thanks Alys. I hope El Nino brings you rain. Our boffins are saying it will bring us drought although it is hard to imagine at the moment as the lawn is currently underwater with all the rain we have had in the last two days. I wish I could send it to you.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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