Carrot crop a real labour of love

I love carrots—firm, crunchy, tasty carrots.
My granddaughter, Emily, is not so enraptured. At four years old, her reasoning was, “Papa, you know, I’m not a rabbit!”
I haven’t had a lot of luck growing carrots. Either the soil is too hard, the resulting crop looks like a bunch of tortured, arthritic fingers, the seed fails to germinate, or they are so thick they never make any size.
This year I was determined to succeed. I picked that special spot and added enough peat and sand, along with copious nutrients, to guarantee just the right growing medium. Then with the soil nicely warmed up, I seeded—not too thick, or deep—and gently covered the precious seed.
And waited. And waited some more.
When only weeds came up, I checked the seed packet. It was dated 1998 (apparently a holdover from my pre-Rainy River days).
Quickly scurrying around Drizzle Creek to get some fresh seed, I soon discovered “sold out” was a common theme, with the next delivery truck scheduled for March, 2009. A trip to Fat Frantic and Emu was similarly unproductive.
Nearly sobbing, I laid my tale of woe on Len, who solved the problem in short order.
“Why didn’t you get your order in early, you ninny? But you’re in luck. Here’s a couple spare packets. Now do a good job,” he lectured as he returned to his own patch.
Lovingly, I re-seeded. The gentle rains came. The sun shone. And voila, a week later I was treated to a few wisps of green emerging.
Every day I checked on the six rows, carefully weeding out the volunteer poppies and sunflowers. “Gently! Gently, now,” I cautioned myself, taking care not to damage the precious seedlings.
I was similarly dedicated to watering my patch. Just enough. Don’t over do it.
All summer my carrots grew like gangbusters and I religiously thinned them, enjoying the first tender roots—boiled and slathered with butter or raw straight out of the garden with a careless swish under the faucet (after all, a bit of good, bacteria-laden dirt is just the thing to challenge the immune system).
Finally at the height of the harvest season, I put on the heavy boots, got out the fork, and set to. Carefully I levered them out of the soil making sure not to injure or break a single perfect root. Out the beauties came in great, orange clumps. Nine inches long, gently tapered, perfect in every way.
A bumper crop!
I shook off the fertile soil, snapped off the tops, and gave them a final wash. Proudly, I presented the bounty to my wife, the Pearl of the Orient. She was suitably impressed and took charge of the crop. After all, it was my first really successful carrot crop.
A week later, the Pearl announced we would be having honeyed carrots—a real favourite of mine.
“Bring in some carrots before you go for coffee,” she directed.
“Sure thing. Where are they?” I asked as I headed out for the Bakery.
“They’re in the garage in that garbage bag, next to those wormy apples I asked you to throw out,” stated the Pearl, referring to my recent apple sauce production project.
I stopped short, remembering how thorough I had been at gathering up all the garbage bags the day before. I’d had a real mountain out for Frank and per usual, he had cleaned up every last bit of it.
I don’t suppose anyone has any surplus carrots, eh?

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