Cricket Song Farm

Cricket Song Farm

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

We ALL need a little thinning

I don't know if you are like me, but thinning is about the hardest thing I have to do in this life.  No, I am not talking about working off the 10-15 pounds that seem to creep up on me every winter since I turned the big FIVE-0.  However, by the time the big hand-driven, rear tined tiller has drug me around the 5 acre vegetable patch, I have wrestled goats and sheered sheep, walked up and down the 1/4 mile lane to the farm about 7,642 times.....  the thinning job gets done.
No, I am talking about planting seeds, spending days on end tied to the farm so I can keep the seeds moist by continual watering, keeping a constant watch, hoping that the seed will sprout........and then after several weeks of non-stop, vigilant work, I grab them by their little leaves and yank them out by their roots!  
I know, I know, it just doesn't make any sense.  Why go to all that trouble and then just pluck them from the earth to lie in the sun and die a scorching death?
(they are however a tasty addition to a fresh garden salad)

Well, just as for us, thinning is good for your vegetable crop.  It will ensure that a vegetable will grow to it's full potential, reduce the slimy fungus that grows on the plants if they are to crowded, and    almost guarantee a successful harvest.

Here are a few ways I thin my plants:

Carrots, take such a long time to germinate and then send out such tiny little leaves, I really hate to thin them, but this is a method I have found most successful.  When the carrots are about 1 inch tall,  simply use a garden rake with the curved solid tines and rake cross-wise down the row.  Repeat if necessary.  Apply composted manure and mulch with grass clippings.....carrots like moisture....but not wet feet.  I usually plant them in the sandiest part of the garden which changes every year according to how  the W-I-N-D  blows .

Beets, are a little more complicated.  Each beet seed will actually send out 2 or 3 little beets.  I have found that planting the seeds about 1 inch apart, cutting the tops several times during the season as greens, and then as the roots begin to develop I begin thinning them to eat and sell as baby beets when they are about an inch in diameter.  Harvest every other beet which allows room for the other beets to grow and mature to full size.  Thin again if needed in the late summer.

Radishes and Turnips,  mix these seeds together and plant at the same time.  The radishes will mature and be harvested long before the turnips, thus leaving plenty of room for the turnips to  mature.  Planting radishes with carrots is also a good method to use.  This method is especially helpful because the radish leaves help shade the soil keeping it moist for the carrot seeds to sprout.

Cucumbers and squash,  I direct seed these plants (3-5 seeds per hill) in the early spring. When the true leaves appear, using a pair of scissors snip off all but the 3 healthiest plants. 
Actually I plant over 1200 squash plants a year so I usually just plant and ignore them, but I allow plenty of room between plants, at least 4 feet between summer varieties and 6-8 feet between winter.

the smaller varieties of winter squash can be grown on a trellis

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