Earlier this spring my post about growing carrots described my technique of sowing lots of carrot seed in a big block to achieve the highest yields from a small space. This year’s crop is growing well, the tops are pillowing the remay cloth up and out; it’s time for thinning carrots.
Before I wrote this post I checked around online to see what sort of information was out there on the subject and – for Pete’s sake people! Why make it so hard when it doesn’t have to be? There is much discussion about thinning carrots when they are 2” tall, or sowing the seeds two inches apart, or thinning exactly twice, heavy mulch to retain moisture, and so on…
It sounds like too much work! And all for a couple of rows of tasty, garden fresh carrots. No wonder people give up on growing carrots. I mean sure, they taste waaay better fresh from the garden, but they’re pretty darn cheap from the supermarket, and the time investment is minimal.
Please, do yourself a favour and try my method – it’s less work and more productive, I promise!
Now that my carrots are big enough to give some value for the work, I will thin them for the first time. After peeling the remay back I begin to work my way through the bed. Fortunately we had a good rain just before I did this, or I would have watered the bed well before starting, it helps the carrots slide out of the ground more easily with less disruption to their neighbours. The key is good soil prep, so that you have light, friable earth.
Gently parting the foliage so that I can see down to the surface of the soil, I begin pulling baby carrots, taking those that are too close to each other (and a lot of them are). Given a choice I always take the bigger carrot, so that I get something worth eating, leaving the little guys to size up.
If I disturb the soil too much, gently patting it down around the remaining carrots ensures that sunlight won’t reach the roots and turn them green. Of course the density of the carrot’s own foliage and the remay cloth covering them also helps protect the roots, as well as conserving moisture during hot summer days (if we ever get any).
After thinning my way across the bed I have a pretty good feed of baby carrots for supper. The remaining plants get tucked back under their blanket to continue growing. From now on, anytime I want to harvest carrots, I’ll repeat this process, removing carrots that are too close to each other. I’ve only removed a small percentage of the overall crop with this first thinning, and each time I will need to remove fewer carrots, as they grow larger and larger, to feed us.
If I had started thinning carrots when they were only 2” tall, as many suggested, I wouldn’t have anything worth snacking on. And if I were growing my carrots in rows instead of blocks, I would have far fewer carrots than I do in this small space. As it is, I have lots of tasty carrots to look forward to all summer, with precious little effort!