|Setting everything out before we starts ensures the two year old is interested
I always feel so brutal when I have to thin out seedlings and I really have to force myself to do it. I spur myself on with memories of the Great Garlic Failure of 2015 and try to remind myself that life is a competition and rather than slaughtering the puny seedlings, I’m merely ensuring that the strong have the space and resources to thrive. This year is the first year I’ve ever grown root vegetables.
In the past I’ve focused on soft fruits (raspberries uber alles!) but I’m changing tack somewhat so that my toddler GarlicBoy will get to experience harvesting and eating as many home-grown edibles as possible. So I’m learning as I go. I’m trying a slightly altered version of Square Foot Gardening for my carrots and beetroots (no peat in my beds!) and am so used to having bushy, leafy things covering my beds that the teeny tiny seedlings currently scattered about the place look pretty sad and lonely. I’m persevering, however, and had my first great thinning of the seedlings not long ago. I rather naively got my two year old involved and he thought this was a great game and proceeded to pluck his patch almost bare before I could intervene so now I thin alone. The growth, however puny, of the seedlings made me think that I should probably sow a second lot of seeds to ensure that the harvest season isn’t too bunched together. (Hah! Bunched! Get it?). So GarlicBoy and I set out to rake the remaining empty bed smooth ready for the rest of the seeds.
We sowed two more varieties of carrot, another resistafly and some cute little Paris Market spherical ones that I think will please GarlicBoy no end, and also some leeks and parsnips. I’m hoping that we can have some of the latter with our Christmas lunch. I’ve come to realise that roots really aren’t great for tiny city gardens. They’re relatively cheaply available in the shops, take an awfully long time to mature ready for harvest and occupy a lot of space but I like the idea of variety and want to plan now so that we have things to eat in the winter hunger gap. So now I have two large empty-looking beds with the occasional centimetre high sprout waving feebly at the cats who eye this welcoming patch of earth with malicious intent. I have had to squirt them with a water a couple of times to discourage them from using the bed as a litter tray and destroying my work at a single stroke of their paws. Oh, the guilt. I shall think of the garlicky vichyssoise that I shall whizz up with the leeks, of the golden and crispy parsnips gleaming on a platter on Christmas day, and of the marvellous carrots we can munch on later in the summer and try to convince myself that it’s worth the lack of space.