Discover more from oakland garden club
On carrots and the underground
who needs thinning, oxheart carrots, cuttings
I want to introduce a new occasional section to the newsletter: Cuttings. Little bits— intriguing things, heavy clambakes, links from readers—for you to take and plant in your own mind. It’ll be at the bottom of (some? most?) future newsletter editions.
We planted carrots this year, carelessly, happily. We didn’t thin them. This was something between intentional and accidental. And if you don’t thin carrots planted closely together, you end up with …
A living map of the underground, a tangle of beings growing in and around each other, impossibly delicate curves and organic knots of root seeking down. I love that each carrot embodies its time pushing through soil and around its comrades. Is this a struggle for survival? Yes, and I can’t see it that way.
Sure, pulling a perfectly formed carrot out of the ground by its top is satisfying. But how much more delicious to know that under the bright green happiness of our carrot tops lies a mass of life writhing in slow motion?
For further delight, consider this 1972 paper from the Journal of Horticultural Science, “A Useful Method for Conducting Carrot Shape Studies” by Rutgers’ Ronald D. Snee. The method, roughly, consists of creating polygons out of carrot shapes, so that they can be mathematically compared. Perhaps not so delightful in the abstract, but the diagrams! Feel free to get these tattooed.
Ah yes, a longitudinal outline of the carrot…
Not all carrot varieties are alike, of course. They show considerable variation in “shape type.” Skinny Nantes and thick Oxheart, shouldered Chantenay, and stake-like Imperator.
Interesting, too, that Imperator, Danvers, Chantenay, and Nantes are still the common types of carrots grown today. Oxheart (perhaps too evocative of a name?) feels like it should be making a comeback at farm-to-table restaurants any minute now.
Of course, the real work of horticulture is this kind of standardization. Size and conformity to type. But I am not a horticulturalist, and (sometimes) I would rather use the sun to create carrots that document their subterranean adventures.
Or as friend of the Club Joe Brown put it, “If I want boring carrots, I’ll buy them.”
oakland garden club is place for people who love plants as plants and plants as portals to radically different ways of being.
The long-time newspaper sold by homeless people, Street Spirit, has a fundraiser this Saturday. I’ll be moderating a panel with a couple of vendors and their intrepid editor-in-chief, Alastair Boone. Get your tickets.
Reyhan Herb Farm, your source for Iranian herbs, is hosting a Sabzi party July 30 in Berkeley. Tickets on sale Friday, July 14. Expect: “colorful platters of panir sabzi and delicious summer dishes that celebrate the delicacy and beauty of Iranian herbs at a short and sweet brunch service.”
Second Generation Seeds x Joodooboo are doing an incredible project to bring people greater understanding of their specific plant breeding work… Here’s their description: “Introducing The Ssampler Pack… Each week, participants will receive samples from the field. Some samples will be part of nursery plots attempting to preserve genetic diversity within a crop species. Some samples will be breeding lines where you’ll get to shape their ongoing evolution… Within each set will be some nerdy prompts and opportunities to join the conversation around what makes these varieties unique, how to best prepare them, and what considerations are important for the future of these crops. Taste some leaves! Learn some things!” There’s also a cute zine thingy!
The almost impossibly cool fundraiser event series, yada yada presents, is conducting a raffle to support their work… and I have to tell you: the prizes are basically a cheat sheet to the most interesting makers of food, drink, and art in the region (which really means the world).
YOU HAVE TO READ THIS INCREDIBLE STORY BY FRIEND OF THE CLUB, NICOLA TWILEY. It’s about morning glories and genetic engineering and plant crazes in Japan. Seriously. Any reader of OGC is gonna love this story.
I talked with one of the folks from Oakland’s Parkway Theater about possibly showing some movies there followed by OGC panels. I was thinking we could kick things off with The Secret Life of Plants followed by a talk with people who study real plant cognition and information processing? Good idea? Send me other