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Thinning Carrots, Weeding & Weather

I’ve been trying to get onto the plot, weather allowing, but like many others I have to fit it in around work. Of course we save a lot on our food bills with the allotments but that leaves the council tax, electric, gas, water, etc., etc.

Wednesday I had to go to Birmingham, which is just under an hour and a half away from home. Not a huge trip but enough to make me very grateful that I no longer have to waste huge chunks of my life sitting in a metal box on the motorway waiting for the jam to clear every day.

It’s funny, just 10 years ago I thought nothing of zipping off to London but now I find driving nothing but torment. Thank you to Tim Berners-Lee for inventing the internet so I can mainly work from home.

Weather Survey

I mentioned the weather and although I said about it in my newsletter, I think it’s worth saying again. The met office are currently running a survey to find out what gardeners want in a weather forecast. If you can spare a minute to fill in the form, please do so. Met Office Survey. (If the link is no longer working, it means the survey is finished)

Weeding

The patch to the side of the big greenhouse on plot 29 was a foot deep in weeds. They’re all annuals whose seeds have been brought to the surface by cultivating, so just a matter of getting the hoe out. I’d hoped to tackle them sooner, in fact if they’d only been a couple of inches high I could have used my new Mantis. The tines have two positions, in one direction they dig in and will go down 9 inches or so but in the other they stay in the top couple of inches of the soil. That’s ideal for weeding as the speed which it runs just chops the weeds up and mixes them into the soil.

Anyway, they were beyond that so a good couple of hours with the hoe to clear the patch. It’s got a bright side, though. Those weeds will turn into good compost, of course.

Thinning Carrots

I popped over to another plot for a quick chat break and the plotholder asked me about thinning her carrots. I like to thin in two stages, the first thin when the foliage is just a few inches high and a second thin when the carrots have developed enough to be edible sweet ‘baby’ carrots.

So as we talked I pulled the carrots for her, aiming to leave an inch between plants which can be further thinned to a final spacing of 2 or 3 inches later. Oh dear, she was not happy when I said it wasn’t really worth trying to re-plant the thinnings.

Nobody likes waste, me least of all, but nature often works on a ‘throw enough mud and some will stick’ basis. Carrot seed is small, there are apparently 20,000 in an ounce (wonder who was sad enough to count them!) but not every seed will germinate. Perhaps half?

Checking a packet of carrot seeds, it contains approximately 1800 for £1.30. That’s an awful lot of carrots. Sowing as thinly as you can with such small, light seeds will still result in overcrowding. Thinning out is necessary if you are to get decent sized roots in the end.

It may seem like waste, but that’s the way nature works. Re-planting carrots (or parsnips and so forth) is a real waste. A waste of time better spent elsewhere on the plot. The chances of success are minimal as pulling the thinning will inevitably damage the minute root hairs that take in the nutrients from the soil. If they do survive, you’ll probably end up with a stunted strange shaped carrot.

I don’t think I convinced my fellow plotholder, though. I’m the carrot killing maniac now!

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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