Thursday, July 5, 2007

Aloof Carrots


You know the feeling you get when you clean out your closet? Like really purge it?

That's what it feels like to thin and weed 66-square feet of garden.

[insert blissful sigh]

I wonder if I should really call it "thinning and weeding." The square-foot method of gardening (a la Mel Bartholomew fame) is all about minimizing the thinning and weeding. It's gardening for dummies. It's gardening for lazy dummies.

Of course I'm not really all that lazy, but I am a little skeptical about this whole "plant it and they will sprout" thing. That's why I planted 10-12 seeds in every hole, as opposed to the 2-3 that Mel recommended. He said 2-3 was enough to ensure at least one sprout per hole.

It turns out he is a wise, old sage.

It's a little late to admit his brilliance. Now I have a veritable bush growing from each little hole. Mel recommends cutting the extra sprout with scissors (note the singular use of the word sprout, since I'm not supposed to have 9-11 extra in every hole). I started to do this (especially since I'm really trying to learn to follow his advice). However, the scissoring felt tedious and slow. I finally resorted to plucking the extra sprouts, like in-grown hairs. How satisfying!

It feels so good to have one sprout per hole. Remember, with the square-foot method, I strategically spaced the holes out, according to the recommended thinning distance. That way, I won't have to ever thin, assuming I only let one sprout grow per hole.

The whole experience reminded me of working on an organic farm in Ecuador (run by a white American). I told him he needed to thin his carrots. He insisted that it was fine for them to touch and that they would simply grow out to the sides. He wondered why his carrots were so malformed and stunted.

Then one day he asked me to pick some carrots for the lunch salad. I asked whether he wanted me to pick the worst ones, so we could save the best ones for market. He granted me permission to find the best ones.

I made my way to the only patch of garden that actually allotted enough space for the carrots to grow in their preferred state of aloofness. Of course they were long and thick. He regretted giving me permission to find the best ones.

I think maybe now he thins those carrots.

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