Carrot Planting Minus the Backache

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Dear friends,

If you live in our city, even the most avid gardeners (meaning those who plant more than tomatoes and peppers) will tell you they don’t have any luck with carrots. Ho! HO! Let me tell you about our huge crop last year! We froze enough packages of carrots for the year, plus had bags of fresh ones in the fridge that kept for months. It was so much fun defying the odds!

I think our first step was the most important. Larry brought the Mantis in from the farm and prepared the ground. Our soil already had some sand in it, and when he finished, it evidently was perfect for carrots. BTW, you might want to read about a Mantis on the Internet. It is a small, lightweight wonder machine/tiller that even a woman can easily handle.

Now I want to tell you about the actual planting as it leads to the reason for my blog post. Larry was sweet enough to volunteer to plant the carrots since my back was giving out, plus our garden spot is a semicircle around the edge of our patio with a small tree in the middle, and some areas are difficult to reach. It is similar to painting a floor; if you aren’t aware, you might find yourself in a place where you can’t get out without doing some damage. Also, to plant the outside rows, you need to lean over the chicken-wire rabbit barrier.

The problem that arose was that Larry had never planted carrots before and his fingers were too big for those tiny seeds. The rows were so peppered, I had to thin them many times! I know I wouldn’t have done much better, because when my back starts hurting, my patience wears out quickly and I want to just give them a toss. I eventually thinned out enough tiny plants for several more crops and enjoyed teasing him about it.

I planted carrots at the farm today, and I think I solved the problem by reading up on how to make seed strips. It was so easy. The directions said to mix 2 tablespoons flour with 1 tablespoon water and stir to make a paste. (It reminded me of my childhood and making paper chains.) Then I stuck the end of a toothpick in the paste, picked up a tiny seed on it, and rubbed it off onto the center of a long, narrow strip of newspaper. I pasted the seeds 1 inch apart, and if they all come up, I’ll thin to every 3 inches. It was so much easier doing the work while sitting on a chair, and then just laying the strips end to end in rows and covering with soil.

I have some concerns, though. I’m worried that the birds are going to scratch the strips of paper out of the dirt. And, please tell me how the little seeds are going to get out of the paste as I had to really soak and scrape it off the dish. Then there is the newspaper. I know it is only one layer, but I use several layers to block out weeds so … will it decompose fast enough for the plants to get through? Have you tried it, and with any luck? Oh my, maybe I should have just let Larry over seed again!

Side track: The robins built a nest next to the entrance to our kitchen garden while we were away. When we returned, it was filled with four lovely blue eggs.

Much to our delight, they hatched while we were here this weekend, and we watched the process. The robins weren’t happy with me each time I entered the garden to hoe and plant. I think I heard the male saying something like, “I told you that wasn’t a good place for a nest, but you just had to have it in front of that lattice work!”

This is not an electronic game. Nope, this is a REAL angry bird!