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  • Christy@Gnarly Oak Acres

Thinning Carrots... and Life?

Today I had to thin the carrots. Those of you who garden groaned a little bit at that statement. Many in the gardening world do not enjoy thinning carrots. It is a long, tedious task, that requires one to pull out seedling carrot plants at 2–3-inch intervals, so the remaining carrots can grow to be big, straight, and lovely. It also involves a lot of bending over followed by a two-day backache. Outside of the backache, and the fact that a little part of me dies with every seedling pulled, I actually don't mind it much. It falls into the sweet zone of gardening for me - it allows me to be deep in thought or prayer, but still "doing" something.


I have tried many techniques over the years to avoid thinning, mainly because those innocent little seedlings did what they were supposed to do, and here I come yanking them out. I have tried making toilet paper seed tape for planting. This involves rolling out long strips of TP, making a flour/water paste and "gluing" one carrot seed to the TP every two inches (plants would already be spaced!). The tape gets planted and watered just like any other seed. This approach never germinated well for me, so I scrapped it.

I have tried feeble attempts to replant every seedling pulled. This doubles my backache and again, doesn't get great results, because it is too much trauma to the developing roots. So... back to the tried and true; broadcast seeding (sprinkling an area with seed, not in uniform rows) followed by thinning a few weeks later when the plants are about 3 inches tall. I know deep down that to produce strong, wonderful carrots, some must go because if they all stayed, they would all be weak and unpleasant. And now my family knows that my sobbing is normal during the first few minutes.

As I said, I get a lot of time to think as I'm hunched over murdering carrots, and today was no different... except it was. As I selected the strongest stem in a bunch and carefully removed the weaker around it, I started thinking about how maybe life should resemble carrot thinning. There are a lot of distractions out in the world, ready and willing to suck the life from you. What if we "thinned" away just a few and refocused on what really matters in life? If we strived to live a simpler, more intentional life, would we be a sweeter, more pleasant person for the loved ones around us? Yes, I really do think so.

Okay, I'll go there... real world example: I love a clean house. I mean, is there anything better then waking up to a clean house? But the reality is, I live in a sandbox with two children, a husband, a dog, a cat, chickens that "somehow' find their way into the house occasionally, and the list goes on. My house can't stay clean, it just can't. So, if I started to practice "thinning" and tried to pull away from that desire to have everything clean 24/7, I would be a bit sweeter for those around me, and I would experience more peace. That sounds kind of nice. But... I'm not giving up on a clean countertop before bed... not yet. Baby carrot steps.

I don't think you have to join me in the carrot bed to understand what I'm saying, but if you think that'd be helpful, I would love to show you! I think you know that there are things in your life that could go - maybe you too have an overwhelming desire to have a clean home (it's just me, isn't it?), or work is taking over, or you can't seem to put your phone down. Or maybe it is something even larger like thinning away a toxic friendship. Whatever it is, be honest, be real and grab some gloves and get to work.

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