In the fall of 1853, Dr. Lucius Cook wrote a letter to the newspaper describing his great success in growing carrots on 3/4 of an acre in the center of Wendell. Subsequently reprinted in The New England Farmer, his letter described how he had been trying for two years to convert a hayfield to vegetable production. An initial crop of potatoes had failed due to disease. The following year he lost most of his corn to worms and then had such a large yield of rutabagas that his horses (the only animals that would eat them) couldn’t get through all of them before the spring, and Cook ended up throwing most of them onto the compost pile.
But with the carrots he hit the jackpot. He added about 30 loads of horse manure to the soil, invested in a new seed drill to plant the tiny seeds, and hired a crew to do the planting (and remove some of the stones that inevitably worked their way to the surface of the field, Wendell being known as a “rough, hilly town” in the words of the New England Farmer‘s correspondent). In the fall, the harvest repaid Cook’s costs handsomely, with a yield of 16 tons or 651 50-pound bushels. Continue reading