Value in Gardens: A Tiny Pile of Carrots

Want a great way to make yourself feel crazy? Grow a home garden and expect the returns to pay for themselves the first year. “We’ll grow things from seeds,” I thought. “We’ll only need dirt and sun and water, so surely enough will grow to make THAT worth it.”

In my recent post, The Jungle in the Garden, I may have sounded very optimistic about the yield of my garden. Surely, it’s going to be more than the dry desert of wizened weeds I was originally expecting, but let’s get serious here. A bag of carrots cost 1.49 at the grocery store. I expected grocery-store-like carrots, not that weird little-man carrot I featured in a recent entry. and I definitely didn’t expect this pile of small, shrimpy, twisty carrots.

This pile, while far better than the sad carrot yields of my childhood gardens, shows that home gardening is HARD. I was so excited to pull my root veggies out, feeling them hesitate like reluctant children having to get up for school. But every single one of them was smaller than I expected, having fought for sunlight with the recently mushrooming tomato plants.

I will write later about the delicious, warming chili I made with that pile of small carrots, but basically, I am learning and truly enjoying how much gardening is humbling. The things that farmers do, no matter how you feel about big-scale farming, ARE AMAZING. Consistent, huge carrots are an amazing thing, even if you want sustainable practices in that big scale process.

The other thing it teaches me is hope and patience: I’m leaving some of my carrots in the ground because it turns out carrots are biennial – they’ll grow and flower next year, yielding me carrot seeds! While I know I cannot recuperate time, energy, or even the money it takes to grow a garden, I’m so thrilled to continue using the “children” of this year’s small carrots as I grow as a gardener.