So regulars of this blog will know that I am new to this veggie growing thing, and so therefore I am also learning lots. Well today is lessons in shop bought veggie plants.
This is what veggies look like when they are bought. 6, 9 or 12 little podlets of veggie plant goodness in one tray. So one would assume there would be 6, 9, or 12 carrot, broccoli, onion or pea plants. WRONG. It’s OK on plants such as peas or broccoli, as they are fairly distinguishable to the newbie eye as single little plants that will each grow one much bigger plant. Also any seedlings that are in multiples in one pod of the tray are easy to spot and can be separated accordingly. The problem with the newbie gardener such as myself, with things like carrots or onions it is less easy to spot. I genuinely thought I would be growing 12 bulbous tasty onions and 12 luscious and wholesome carrots. Seems a little stingy now in hindsight only providing 12 carrots. Wouldn’t exactly feed a family for very long! But it came apparent when my plants had grown bushy and tall (maybe with the help of a little miraclegrow) and the tops of the formed carrots started popping through the surface in the soil, that there were between 6 – 9 carrots in what I had thought was space for one. Yes I know, you old hands are probably chuckling away! It’s like when I thought that mass made clothing was made by machines and that’s why the quality was a bit dodgy; when in fact ALL items of clothing are “hand-made” by a real human being – the quantity is what makes it cheap and dodgy international laws on child labour. I think a lot of people not in the fashion industry are ignorant in manufacturing issues. So there you have it. I am a big fat stupid about how vegetables are grown at the moment. So my carrots look like this:
Gorgeous carrot tops, but rather teeny little carrots. I think you’ll remember me chuckling away at a re-post of a blog by The Hopeless Gardener called ‘Micro Deformed Veg’. Well my friends, it has happened to me! Serves me right I guess, but I was laughing in a good way not at her misfortune I promise.
Now I am well aware that chantanay carrots are smaller than some other varieties, I’m not a complete stupid. But these were beyond ‘slightly smaller’ and I have read reviews of these types of carrots reaching the size of a child’s head (not sure how big said child was). Not knowing when to harvest them I consulted trusty google. Google informed me that carrots are ready to harvest when the tops of the roots are popping out of the soil a good half inch to an inch looking like they are trying to escape. So I doubt leaving them in the ground for a month or so more would have helped them to grow a bit. Many were sticking out at jaunty angles and would have had to grow horizontally into one another anyway so that wouldn’t have worked to make them any bigger.
I would blame myself entirely for not doing thorough enough research, but actually I blame Wyvale Garden Center slightly too. You see the label that came with the plants did not forewarn me. When I package up my clothing in my day job to go off to its new home, I assume that every customer is a newbie to my brand. That way they get the full shabang. Tissue paper, fancy box, personal note on a postcard with any washing tips or styling suggestions etc. That way the customer knows they are loved and investing in a great piece of clothing. Perhaps Wyvale should take this approach with their plants. Not everyone who comes to a garden center is a hit horticulturist, or green fingered gardener. So simply stating to plant out plants at 3 inch intervals is not too helpful. I did not know about ‘thinning’ or anything really about growing veg so I grew clumps of tiny wee carrots instead of spaced out whoppers. They were very tasty…………..but left me a little hungry for more. On closer inspection of my onions, I fear I will be growing clumps of baby onions, not lots of strong flavoursome bulbs to take me through winter (although how I ever thought 12 onions would last me through winter is quite another question). Ho hum, we live we learn. So big tip to Wyvale chain of garden centers, perhaps treat every label as if it is an idiots guide to growing plants 😉 that way us gardening newbies will be most satisfied and come back for more next year, because quite frankly who has the patience to grow EVERYTHING from seeds. Not the modern land girl here!
Anyway to counter my problem of tiny carrots – or the very trendy ‘micro veg’ – I tried to thin them once they were all grown. From the clumps of carrots I have been digging up a few from each in the hopes the ones that have remained in the ground will have a little more space to fill out a bit. Quite difficult to do as the clumps seem to want to all come up in one, but I think I managed it. I guess we shall have to wait and see! My onions……………I’m just leaving them. Maybe they will be the perfect size for pickling and enjoying over boxing day lunch, even if they only last a couple of days. (WHO AM I KIDDING, they’ll probably last just one day!). Alternatively I could sell them to some posh restaurants up in the big smoke as micro veg, make my millions because small things are always more expensive, and retire at the grand old age of 27. Gotta think of the positives here.
I did however make a most delicious lunch dish with my teeny carrots which I will share on another day with you all – I suppose roasting them didn’t help with their size as they do shrink a little when roasted. And it seems I am an expert on growing carrot tops. They are big, bushy and luscious and I am enjoying looking up recipes to use them in. After all waste not want not! It seems all the efforts that went into growing my carrots went into the tops, a little like the reverse of an iceberg (the icy kind not the lettuce kind). Let’s hope my purple carrots grown from seeds are a little more successful when they are ready for harvesting. I’m expecting nothing less than baseball bat sized ones 😉
Until next time, happy gardening!