Thursday, 30 March 2017

Square foot gardening: Planting carrot seeds for the Easter Bunny with a toddler

An empty raised bed awaiting seeds is a yawning gulf of temptation to me, one that begs to be filled with any manner of plants. The problem is that when space is limited and the year is still too young to allow for the planting out of seedlings as per the carefully crafted urban garden plan that I spent hours over, I find the promise of an immediate crop almost overwhelming. So it's lucky for the plan that it's finally time to sow carrot seeds. My little boy was beside himself with excitement at the idea of sowing carrots and immediately declared that he wanted to give some to the Easter Bunny when he comes, to thank him for the chocolate eggs. However, the spacing directions on the carrots (to be sowed 30cm apart) would mean a tiny harvest even by my standards. The solution? I'm going to try square foot gardening for the very first time. So our sowing experiment took a while longer that I'd expected as I had to mark off a square foot of raised bed each time we went to sow something. We were using one of the shadier raised beds in the garden to sow four types of carrot (Purple Haze, Yellowstone, Resistafly, Paris Market - Atlas) and some beetroots (Chiaggia). I wanted to plant interesting types of carrot that we couldn't readily buy at the supermarket. So we went to the nursery together and GarlicBoy chose the types of carrots that we should buy based on the pictures on the packets. We sowed our initial seeds at the front of the beds and will sow another batch in a couple of weeks to try to extend our harvest. 

To sow carrot seeds with a toddler:

You will need:
- A raised bed / flower bed / trough
- Good quality seed compost
- Seeds
- Soil sieve
- Hand rake
- Hand trowel
- Gardening gloves
- Raffia / string and pegs / posts
- Seed syringe (Optional)
- Measuring tape


1. Pop on your gardening gloves, mix the compost into the top of your raised bed / flowerbed and water it

2. Using the rake, thin the soil and rake it finely. My two year old preferred digging large holes in the soil with the trowel so I employed my box of gardener's things (useful hooks and string etc) to keep his interest whilst I finished the raking. 


3. Carefully use the measuring tape to measure out a square foot of soil
4. If you're using a seed syringe, get your toddler to help you "load" it with seeds. If not, shake as many out of the packet as you want to sow. I usually sow two to a hole. 


5. Work on the basis that you'll plant nine carrots per square foot and try to space the holes evenly. Now drop (or syringe) two or three seeds per hole. 


6. Lightly dust the seeds with soil pushed through the syringe and water again using the fine nozzle on wa watering can (or hose, at a distance). 

7. Use the pegs to place a string at the edge of the square, so that you know where to start sowing on the next square

8. Add a seed label and move on to repeat for the next square foot of bed. 


Then sit back and check for progress for the bunny every day!






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