September 15, 2010
Tonda di Parigi are heirloom carrot seeds that yield absolutely delicious carrots — and they’re so darn cute! They’re small and round (the perfect snack size for both kids and adults) and really sweet. Not all of the types of carrots I have grown have been as sweet as these and I’ve tried about 10 different varieties. Also, they grow quickly and are really beautiful arranged on a veggie platter — you know how much I like that! I usually buy the seeds at Island Seed and Feed here in town, but I recently bought a bunch of packets of these carrots by Botanical Interests for my daughter’s school garden at Amazon.
One of the things I love about gardening is that there is always something new to learn. Let’s face it, in our amazing Santa Barbara climate, getting things to grow isn’t too hard. If you put something in the ground and water it every so often, it will live, and probably thrive. That said, making your garden the best it can be takes some planning and a bit of trial and error.
Recently, Pat Omweg, the man I consult whenever I need help with my garden, recommended that I try not only a new type of carrot, but also a new method of planting. He has such a wealth of gardening knowledge, it’s so much fun to pick his brain for new tips and tricks. With his help, my garden has flourished in spite of the summer fog, and has continued to bloom into the fall. Now, we just have to get the dog under control. She has a new habit of digging up everything I’ve just planted — that little bitch! (No really, that’s what she is …).
Carrots are on year-round rotation in my garden. In the past, I’ve always mixed my seeds with potting soil in a container and then spread the mixture over a square foot plot. This is not a bad way to plant carrots, but after a few harvests I noticed that with this method, the seedlings get cramped and grow together in clumps, which can make harvesting more difficult. Instead, we’ve started using this new technique for planting all root veggies and arugula.
Pat taught me how to “combat the clump” by planting in neat single-file rows — just as you would for lettuce or broccoli. Simply take a clean knife (I literally use an old steak knife that I “borrowed” from the kitchen — now it has a new occupation as a garden tool) and make a channel in the dirt the whole length of the bed. Then, you just sprinkle the seeds into the trough, pinch the dirt together between your thumb and middle finger, and water. In about a week, you should already have little green leaves sprouting up.
One tip: When you are planting, wait to pinch the dirt together until you are finished with the entire plot. This way you can see where you have already planted before you make your next row. I once made the mistake of covering up the troughs too soon, and then had no idea were to put my next row because the entire area looked the same.