I took a big step last week – I filmed and posted my first ever YouTube video. It’s about, as the title of this post suggests, thinning and transplanting carrot seedlings. If you’re dying to watch it instead of reading the rest of this post, I won’t be offended. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to check it out! And don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel if you like what you see and want more videos!
As you may know, I’m a total beginner to this whole gardening thing. During my childhood, I watched my mom plant loads of ornamentals and house plants, but I don’t really remember her planting any vegetables. My dad, on the other hand, had successfully planted some fruit trees (pears and plums), melons and corn when I was younger, but I never bothered to pay attention to the whole planting and growing process. So even though I was always surrounded by some form of gardening while I was growing up, I wasn’t interested in it AT ALL. Depending on the age, I was either too busy playing video games with my older brothers or dancing to my favorite N’sync or Backstreet Boys CD (yes, that really happened and I’m not ashamed of it).
So how exactly have I learned about gardening? Three ways: a beginner gardening class I took with a local organization called Grow Pittsburgh, reading tons of books and articles and last, but probably my favorite, YouTube videos. Videos are just so much easier than flipping through the back of an index in a gardening book and reading the page(s) under that category, only to find out that your question wasn’t really answered, at least not in the way that you could understand. Also, videos are just fun to watch. Usually. However, as a visual and auditory learner, I do understand the power of reading a set of instructions followed by watching a video of someone actually performing the task. So to that end, below are step-by-step instructions on how to thin carrots and then how to transplant some of those carrot thinnings (if you wish to do so). Haven’t planted any carrot seeds in your garden this year? Don’t worry! There’s still plenty of time. Check out the Garden Carrot Mix seeds from Seeds of Change that I planted in my garden. They’re great and are certified organic!
How to Thin Carrots
Why thin carrots? Because they need room to grow! Carrot seeds are so tiny and annoying to deal with that it would be very time consuming to separate individual seeds and plant them 2-4 inches apart. A common way to plant them is to just lay them out in a row using the palm of your hand. This saves you tons of time. Some would argue that it doesn’t save you that much time because you end up having to thin them later. They’re probably right. What can I say? I’m lazy. Anywho, if you were like me and sowed your carrot seeds the lazy way, you’ll know it’s time to thin them out when the carrot tops are about 4 inches tall. Some people do a “first thinning” when the tops are about 2 inches tall and then a “second thinning” when they’re 4 inches tall. You can do that if you’d like. Again, I was just lazy and didn’t do that – I’m just writing about what I did and my experience.
- Before you start thinning, make sure to water your growing carrots. The moisture will make it much easier to pull out the seedlings.
- Starting from one end of your row of carrots, use a ruler, some other tool or just use your best judgement to measure out 2 inches or so of space between each carrot top.
- Once you get to a patch of carrots that are growing too close together, take a close look at which carrot tops look the healthiest – you’ll want to leave those in the ground if possible.
- Now comes the hard part – pick a carrot that needs to be pulled out. Sometimes two carrots will be growing so close together that it’s difficult to even distinguish that they are in fact two separate carrots and not one. Just do your best. If you do come across two carrots that are very close together, try to separate them. Otherwise, they won’t grow to their full potential.
- Once you’ve chosen a carrot a pull out, firmly grasp the entire carrot top at the very bottom of stem. Make sure you don’t accidentally grab the stem of another carrot.
- Gently pull the carrot top straight up.
- Continue to do this until there is about 2 inches of space in between each carrot in the row.
How to Transplant Carrot Thinnings
Next comes my little transplanting experiment. Carrot thinnings are not usually transplanted. Why? Well, I think it’s because it’s not usually successful. Nevertheless, I’ve read accounts of others transplanting their carrot thinnings successfully and ending up with beautiful carrots at harvest time. So I decided to go ahead and give it a try. Why not? I’ve got a 50/50 chance, right? Here’s what I did. Make sure you have a pen or pencil on hand that you don’t mind getting dirty.
- Pick a spot to transplant your carrot thinning. Make sure you leave about 2 inches of space between other carrots or other plants.
- Push your pen/pencil straight down into the soil as far as it can go.
- Carefully grab your carrot thinning from the stem, in the same spot as when you pulled the carrot out of the ground.
- Place the carrot into the hole, trying not to bend it.
- Using your other hand, put some soil around the carrot and gently press it around the carrot to make sure the carrot stays upright and in place.
- Repeat the process from the beginning until you’re done.
- Gently water your newly transplanted carrot thinning to try to ease their transition.
Be on the lookout for an update on how my transplanted carrot thinnings are doing. I’m pretty nervous about whether they’ll grow or not, but it’s worth a shot!
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