Do you know the one about the carrot?
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…
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 )