Putting down roots

Per usual I am thinking about winter … planting that is. Always at the height of summer as we hide indoors from 37 degree days we have to start thinking about getting seedlings off and running for winter. Our summer crops have been haphazard to say the least and some of this is due to insufficient advance planning.

Anyway TB has got the carrot seeds into the ground and shooting which is some achievement in the current heat. Here’s how he did it. Forget about thinning your carrot seed out with sand. The whole point about carrot seed, from our perspective, is that its quite small and there is generally a lot of it in your seed packet, let alone the vast amounts you can harvest if you collect your own seed. There is no doubt that the seed is better off in the ground than on the shelf so don’t be afraid to sew it thickly.

Now you don’t even need to sew your seed in rows. TB normally just broadcasts it over the area he intends to plant. Just to be contrary this time he’s gone and sewn in rows. Whatever! Just cover your seed with a fine layer of soil and water with a fairly fine spray so the seed settles rather than washes away. The trick is now to keep your seed moist as it is so fine and close to the surface it will dry out even on a mild day.

Here’s our bed covered with some old hessian cloth we found in the shed.

Hesswet

Anything will do, a bit of shadecloth, an old sheet, some old painting drop cloths just get it on the surface and give it a water as well. You need to keep an eye on your seeds and water them every day in hot weather as they will sprout fairly quickly. Our carrot seeds were planted on the 24th of January and came up by the 28th.

As you can see there are lovely thick rows of seedlings.

Seedsup

Of course you can’t leave the hessian on for too long as the seeds start to get caught up in it and pull out of  the ground when you roll it back to water. So TB’s next move was to make a series of hoops out of old irrigation pipe (which seems to be growing in great abundance behind our shed) which are threaded through with some thickish wire cut longer than the irrigation pipe so the ends can get pushed into the ground.

Hesshoop

Et voila! ready made shade tunnel which we put the previously mentioned hessian back over to keep the sun off during the day. We are taking the hessian off during the morning to allow a bit of sun onto the plants, and then putting it back late morning which is easy enough on the weekends. On working days we’ll leave it until after work to remove the hessian.

Hesstunn

Now if you are worried about having to thin your seedlings – don’t. Our tried and true method is to just start picking them, even at a very small size and add them to your salads or steam them with your other veg. This is foodie ‘micro-veg’ at a ridiculously small stage and can only be achieved in the home garden. Of course at our place we will expect to lose a certain percentage to snails and slugs, but there will be enough left to feed you for months. Each time you pick choose wisely and the remaining plants will grow to fill the spaces.

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