My carrots are one of the crops which seem to be blissfully unaware of the cool temperatures we have been experiencing of late and have, in sharp contrast to other crops, put on huge amounts of growth in the last couple of weeks. I have two beds with carrots in this year, sown a couple of months apart, to allow for a longer harvest and within the beds themselves, the sowing of the rows has also been staggered by a few weeks, for the same reason but now both beds have a heart warming number of carrots, at various stages of development and some thinning out needed to be done.
I don’t generally like the process of thinning out because it goes against the grain to pull out and compost a perfectly healthy plant and, to be honest, when it comes to things like lettuces, I tend to just leave them as is, or carefully dig up and transplant excess seedlings into gaps in the rows. Things like parsnips and beetroot have quite large seeds which are easy to sow individually thereby negating the risk of over crowding but carrots and lettuces have tiny, very thin seeds which could be sown individually but this would be a very fiddly and time consuming task, so most people sprinkle the seeds into rows and try to achieve an even spread. Of course factor an enthusiastic 8 year old into the mix and things can get a little more uneven, with large clumps of seedlings interspersed with gaps in the rows.
As I said, lettuces I tend to leave alone but the carrots are a different kettle of fish all together, as the end result of an overcrowded, unthinned bed of carrots, is likely to be a tangled, knotted mass of carrot roots which look pretty funny but are almost impossible to clean, ready for human consumption.
So it is that I find myself thinning carrots out at various stages of their development but I don’t waste my thinnings. Even the tiny carrots, pulled at the first and second true leaf stage can be used: a quick chop to remove the long thin root, a wash under the tap and the tiny leaves make an interesting addition to a salad, offering a mildly carrot like flavour. But Friday, before the rains came, I found myself thinning slightly older carrot plants, carefully pulling individual plants out of tightly compacted clumps, freeing up growing space for neighbouring carrots. I’ll probably need to repeat the process again in another couple of weeks and so on, until I am left with a nicely spaced bed of carrots which will then be left to grow on until fully matured.
As for the thinnings this time around, though still tiny, there was enough carrot on the end of each plant to provide a decent snack for the Mudlets, Can’t beat the taste of freshly pulled carrots, no matter how small they are.