A Vegetable Gardening Primer
“I thought carrots came from a plastic bag. Are There Any Tricks?
“ Now you are telling me that I can be growing carrots in my own backyard!”
Is It Easy? Nothing could be simpler. In the spring most grocery and hardware stores sprout a large rack of seed packages. Look them over and find one with a picture of carrots on the front. Invest the $1.79 and take them home. When the dirt in your yard, which we are now going to call soil, is dry enough that it will crumble through your fingers; it’s time. Yes, I’m afraid you may have to get some soil on your fingers but you might find that it actually feels sort of good. Open the package of seed and spread it evenly over the bare soil. Come back in summer and you might be growing carrots there.
Of course there are a few other things that you could do to increase your success rate. That, of course, would be called gardening and might be quite new to you. You do not need a vegetable garden. Carrots do not grow any better in straight rows. A space between some shrubs or in your flower bed, if you have one, will work. It just needs to get most of a full day of sunshine. Now, those long orange carrots actually grow down into the ground, so the better the soil is, the better the carrots will be. They have to push their way through that soil, so if the soil is nice and loose it will make their lives easier. You could spend a few hundred dollars on a rototiller to grow $2 worth of carrots. A fork would be a more economical alternative but any shovel you have around, will work. Just turn over the soil in the carrot’s little space and knock it around a bit to make it nice and loose.
Let's Get Serious! Why not go the next step, we’re talking serious gardening here, and improve the soil a bit. The place that sold you the package of carrot seed will probably have a pile of bags out front. Some of them will say composted cattle manure or something like that. Take one of them home and spread it on the soil before you dig it up and then it will incorporate into the soil. Now the soil is softer and it has nutrients in it that the growing carrots can use. Now spread the seed over your fancy new soil. Use a rake, if you have one, your fingers will work as well or better, to move the top of the soil around so that the carrot seeds disappear into the top layer of soil.
Do We Need Water? You can wait for it to rain or if you really want to get into this gardening thing spend $3 on a cheap plastic watering can. It needs to have a thing with a bunch of holes at the end of the spout so that you can gently water the space yourself. That thing with the holes is called a rose,(I don’t know why, it just is,) if you want to sound knowledgeable with your neighbours. You can reuse the watering can during the rest of the summer if it doesn’t rain enough. Fill it with water and tell everyone you are going out to do some gardening. Soak the carrot space quite deeply. Those growing carrots are going 20cm /8" down into that soil.
What Do They Look Like? After about 1 - 2 weeks little frilly green things should start to come up out of the soil. Those will be carrots. Learn what they look like. When you are out there watering, watch for other green things that appear that don’t look like the carrots. Those are weeds that want to steal food and water from your growing carrots. Pull them out. It’s easy to do when they are small. By the end of June you should be able to pull on one of those frilly green things and see a small carrot come out of the ground. It’s a good idea to keep pulling out carrots, even small ones, a few at a time and evenly, around your little carrot patch. They will be tasty and this will leave more room for the others to grow big and fat. Gardeners call this, thinning.
If you just throw some carrot seed on the bare ground you might get some carrots. Each of the “gardening” steps above that you follow will increase the quantity and quality of your carrots.
You will be a gardener. You will never look back. What will you grow next? Tomatoes? Beans? Peppers?
You can search my entire site for answers to your other gardening mysteries.
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