Saturday, March 13, 2010

Planting Carrots and Other Stuff

So I was over visiting Meredith at The Enchanted Earth and commented on how I start my carrots with regard to her How To Grow Carrots post. I offered some advice and it included using a seed mat so as to avoid having to thin them as they begin to grow. She liked that idea and said and I think a blog post would be brilliant. Meredith, brilliant! (wink) So here goes.

Our second variety of carrot was planted two days ago, the Purple Dragon, beautiful purple on the outside, orange in, and one we have not tried before. We like the Nantes variety very much, and those are now beginning to peek through the surface. The carrots are planted in raised beds and prefer a fairly loose and composted soil.

Since at times the seeds are a little slow to germinate, I soak them overnight, drain off the water, and place them on a paper napkin to absorb the excess, then get to work.
: Understand that some of this may be highly technical and scientific in nature and may require specialized equipment, but let's give it a shot as best we can.

In a small bowl mix a heaping teaspoon of white flour with just enough water to make a slightly thick paste - consistency of a nice puree so it will drop onto the paper. (The glue should keep for several days for other seed mats if kept covered.) Unfold and place an inexpensive paper napkin atop an aluminum tray (cookie sheet) or piece of foil, and using a ruler as your guide, simply use a pen to place a dot where you want each seed, in this case about one inch apart (whatever the vegetable requires). With a plastic toothpick (has a little knobby end) or something similar, place a drop of glue at each one-inch spot on the napkin. I usually do several rows at a time.

Then pick up a seed with the same toothpick (it will stick to the moistness) and lay it on the wet glue spot on your napkin. It works beautifully and goes quickly. Now allow it to thoroughly dry.

Plant the entire mat in the raised bed and with only the slightest amount of soil to cover the top. (Try not to do this on a windy or rainy day.) The carrots need to stay moist (not wet) while germinating, so I lay a tiny frame with clear plastic over them until they begin to poke their little heads... then remove the frame. Straight rows, thinning eliminated, and it can be used on all sorts of seed varieties. Hope this helps.

Don't forget the tops of the carrots are edible (great in soups) as are those of your tender and young radish leaves and which we especially enjoy... quickly sauteed in a little extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, a few sliced radishes, sprinkle of kosher salt, and as my brother is known to say so good and so good for you.

What else is in the garden?

Radishes are coming along, some lettuce, and
a little spinach is peaking through as is the
mild mesclun blend.

The potatoes I planted in pots last month have all produced foliage, but Dakota Rose has raced ahead of the pack and already seen the addition of soil following her first 8 inches of growth. And Sadie's Horse Beans are attempting to escape through the dining room window. Something must be done with these soon! At this point I assume that Thomas is laughing.