Sunday, May 9, 2010

Experiment 1: Carrots

When it comes to planting seeds, I seem to be all thumbs. For some reason, I have a lot of difficulty picking the seeds up and find they always stick to my fingers so I can’t release them smoothly into their new homes. I also find I often end up losing track of where I put the seeds in the ground. I probably could pay more attention, I suppose. As careful as I was last year, though, I recall a few plants popping up in unexpected places and some spaces with major gaps.

Exhibit A:  Swiss Chard and a rougue radish did that get there?

The square foot gardening method that I more or less follow in my garden prescribes a somewhat precise seeding method, and goes as far as outlining how many plants of each vegetable to put in one square foot. No seed waste here, but hard for someone like myself with sticky thumbs.

Take for example carrot seeds which, according to the Squarefoot garden book, calls for 16 per square foot. For some reason, I find carrot seeds especially difficult to handle. Throw in a little wind and forgedaboudit!

This year, I’m trying 2 different methods of planting carrots in the garden.

Method A will be a direct seeded random method. There’s nothing wrong with random, of course. It worked last year for me- I had a great carrot crop- but I must say once the carrots started growing I noticed what a sloppy job I made of getting those things in the ground. I missed spaces, some were too close together while others too far apart. I will try with this method to get 16 plants/square foot.

Method B Precise will be a home made ‘seed tape’ square. I found inspiration here:

I was a little leery in using glue to attach the carrots, so instead I followed the instructions outlined here (which by the way would make a nice DIY gift for mother’s day or an end of year teacher gift- check it out):

I mixed a paste of flour and water. Cut out a 30 cm square piece of newspaper. Dabbed on the flour paste, plopped in a seed or two = 4 neat rows of 4= 16 seeds.

Here is a picture of the square foot ‘seed tape” before covering with soil:

After planting, I covered both squares with a tea towel- a tip I found from a book called, “One Magic Square”,  by Lolo Houbein. Once the seeds have sprouted, i'll remove the teatowl and will hopefully be off to the races.

I’ll keep you posted on how the carrot seed tape vs direct seeding experiment progresses.

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