Starting the root crops

Damn armadillos got into my newly planted chard and chinese cabbage last night. They’re not after the plants per se but it seems that a newly planted area just attracts their attention. It must be that I mix fertilizer in with the soil and they are attracted to that somehow. Maybe the planting attracts ants which pulls in the armadillos. It’s not near as big a disaster now since I semi-expect it and start plenty of spares.

Thinned out 5 rows of radishes this morning. I interplant radishes and carrots which I guess is fairly standard practice. Carrots take a while to germinate so it’s recommended that you plant radish seed adjacent to carrot seed because the radishes germinate much faster and mark the row. That plus they loosen the soil to enhance carrot growth. Radish seeds are cheap and small, not as small as carrot seed, but small. So I double plant to make up for seed germination issues and then thin wherever multiple radishes pop up together. The next part of my process is inexplicable. As I noted radish seeds are cheap and they grow well so what most people do is just yank out the wimpiest or where multiples occur. I try to ease them out gently and replant somewhere else. That takes time and effort for not much return and I know that in advance – but yet I try to save as many as I can. So a 10 minute job takes me over an hour.

A note on the carrots – I planted predominately one variety using standard seeds but did a small row using pelleted seed. Not sure where I got that seed – it might have been a bonus thrown in by a seed company as a reward for ordering – but I’ve always been dubious about pelleted seed. The big advantage with the pelleted seed is that it’s much, much easier to deal with. The pellets are about the size of a BB as compared to normal carrot seed which is about 10 seeds in the same size. So in planting carrots, with the pelleted seed it’s easy to space the pellets correctly and thus, eliminate the thinning task. The part that has surprised me is that the pelletized seed has germinated in about the same time as the non-pelleted seed and with about the same germination rate. So next time I buy carrot seed, years from now, I’ll probably go with the pelleted seed.

I was also surprised to see that the beets I planted on Tuesday had started germination by Friday. I did soak the seeds for about 8 hours prior to planting and it looks like that’s the trick. I routinely soak spinach seed to speed up germination but it seems to work just as well with beets. Beets also presents a thinning challenge because each seed contains the makings for multiple plants. What I’ve read is that I shouldn’t try to gently separate the seedlings and replant- exactly what I’ve done in the past. Apparently doing that disturbs the roots of both the one being removed and the one remaining which results in stunted growth. The recommended approach is to take a tiny pair of scissors and clip off all but one from the cluster. I’m going to religiously use that approach this season and see if I can break the jinx I have with beets.

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