I am a big carrot eater, so have become the default carrot grower in our household. If you have ever grown carrots yourself, you may know that one of the challenges in sowing the seed is to spread them thinly yet evenly over the soil of the growing area. In our case this task is complicated by the fact that we raise our vegetables in raised beds instead of rows. The seed is tiny, and in broadcasting them over the soil surface it is all too easy to end up with some areas without any seed, and others with way too much. The bare patches become the perfect medium for weed growth, and the oversown areas produce carrots about the size of toothpicks. So the ideal is to either sow the seed very meticulously (I never seem to succeed at this), or to repeatedly and mercilessly thin the patch until the proper spacing is reached, allowing each carrot ample growing room.
Tired of growing spindly carrots, one year I decided to transplant them individually onto uniform, wide spacing (6″ apart), and achieved some (at least for me) unprecedented results:
So I wanted to share this story for two reasons: 1) I wanted an excuse to post this photo, which I love—quite proud of that monster carrot; and 2) because when I talk to landowners unversed in the art and science of silviculture (the theory and practice of guiding forest establishment and growth), I often use the story above as an analogy— for a basic lens to use when viewing a forest with the intent of growing bigger, healthier trees. Because of the scale, we don’t often think of it this way, but trees—whether or not they benefit from any human intervention—are a crop, albeit a massive one, with a much longer maturation cycle. And whether or not you as a landowner (or recreational forest user) have any interest in woodland management for timber harvest, don’t we all want to see our forests becoming healthier, more diverse, bigger and taller?