Tuesday, May 15, 2018

New Jam Packed with Love oval wedding labels

Our NEW Vintage Jam Packed with Love wedding favor labels are great for vintage and rustic wedding favor jam jars. These oval canning labels fit perfectly on the front of the small, quilted style Ball canning jars. Wedding favor jam jar labels print with the couple's names and the date of the nuptials. The labels feature a vintage paper background, "ye olde" style block font, and are absolutely perfect for rustic and cottage chic weddings. These wedding labels come in sheets of 21 oval labels—just peel and stick to favor jars! Easy peasy!
Vintage Oval Jam Packed with Love Canning Labels

Vintage Oval Jam Packed with Love Canning Labels

Our oval labels are approximately 2.5" w x 1.375" h and fit on the smooth oval of 8oz. quilted canning jars. They will also fit on the short 4oz. quilted BALL BRAND jars (the label will fit from the bottom of the jar up to the glass ridge right under the lid). Labels may not fit on other brands of 4oz jars, so please measure your jars before purchasing. See our canning label size charts if you aren't sure what size label you need.

Vintage Oval Jam Packed with Love Canning Labels

Vintage Oval Jam Packed with Love Canning Labels

Vintage Oval Jam Packed with Love Canning Labels

Vintage Oval Jam Packed with Love Canning Labels

Vintage Oval Jam Packed with Love Canning Labels

These wedding favor labels are also available in a brown kraft paper version. Kraft paper Jam Packed with Love wedding favor labels are perfect for rustic, barn, farmhouse and country weddings. This kraft wedding label design pairs nicely with our jute twine and muslin jar covers.

Kraft Oval Jam Packed with Love Mason Jar Labels

Kraft Oval Jam Packed with Love Mason Jar Labels

Kraft Oval Jam Packed with Love Mason Jar Labels

Kraft Oval Jam Packed with Love Mason Jar Labels

Kraft Oval Jam Packed with Love Mason Jar Labels

Kraft Oval Jam Packed with Love Mason Jar Labels

Kraft Oval Jam Packed with Love Mason Jar Labels

Kraft Oval Jam Packed with Love Mason Jar Labels

Shop all of our wedding favor labels in our Wedding Collection.


Monday, May 7, 2018

NEW Custom Honey Labels for backyard beekeeper gifts

We've been bizzzzy bees designing NEW custom honey labels for our shop. Our honey labels are custom printed with your name, type of honey, contact info, or size. Custom honey labels are great for selling your honey at the farmer's market or for gift-giving to friends and family. Custom honey jar labels give backyard beekeepers something to buzz about! 
Who's responsible for your sweet golden liquid? Your busy girls, that's who! And you helped too, of course. Our Busy Bees Custom Honey labels highlight your diligent girls and all their hard work. Your name is highlighted in the yellow banner with a saying and optional size printed below. Main HONEY text can also be customized for pollen or other honey-based products. Our round honey labels come in 3 sizes. They'll fit small favor jar lids, 8 - 32 oz bottles, and mason jars. 
Busy Bees Custom Honey Labels | CanningCrafts.com
Busy Bees Custom Honey Labels | CanningCrafts.com
Busy Bees Custom Honey Jar Labels | CanningCrafts.com
Busy Bees Custom Honey Bottle Labels | CanningCrafts.com
Most of our honey jar label designs have a matching oval label. Oval honey labels fit 8 oz quilted canning jars and other styles of mason jars. Our Busy Bees custom oval honey labels are the bee's knees!
Oval Busy Bees Custom Honey Labels | CanningCrafts.com
Oval Busy Bees Custom Honey Jar Labels | CanningCrafts.com
Oval Busy Bees Custom Honey Labels | CanningCrafts.com
Liquid Gold custom honey labels are oozing with sweet goodness! This fun honey label design can be printed with a short saying and optional size. These bright yellow honey jar labels are the perfect match for sweet bottled nectar.
Liquid Gold Custom Honey Labels | CanningCrafts.com
Liquid Gold Custom Honey Jar Labels | CanningCrafts.com
Liquid Gold Custom Honey Labels | CanningCrafts.com
Liquid Gold Custom Honey Bottle Labels | CanningCrafts.com
Custom oval honey labels brighten up the sweet goodness in mason jars. Oval Liquid Gold custom honey jar labels make sweet nectar extra special. Honey labels print with a short saying, and optional size. 
Liquid Gold Oval Custom Honey Labels | CanningCrafts.com
Liquid Gold Oval Custom Honey Labels | CanningCrafts.com

These colorful custom honey labels come in 6 bright color choices. The bright colors make bottles of liquid gold POP! Pick your favorite color or choose different color schemes for spring, summer, and fall honey.
custom colorful honey labels
custom colorful honey labels
Custom Colorful oval honey labels fit on quilted mason jars.
custom oval honey labels
custom oval honey labels

Vintage Seal custom honey labels look like old apothecary labels. The background is an image of a vintage paper with a large honey bee in the center. This honey label looks sharp on bottles of liquid gold!
custom vintage honey labels
custom vintage honey labels

Vintage Seal honey label design is also available in a matching oval label for mason jars.
custom vintage oval honey labels

Shop all of our custom honey labels for backyard beekeepers!

Custom Honey Jar Labels | CanningCrafts.com

Looking for beekeeping inspiration and tips? Follow our Buzzin About Honey Pinterest Board. We also post new honey bottle labels on this board.
Honey Ideas on Pinterest | CanningCrafts.com

If you aren’t a beekeeper, chances are you know someone who is. So what happens when you need to get them a gift? Check out our beekeeper & honey lover gift list. Besides fun and buzz-worthy finds, it also has some practical and useful tools for apiarists. 
Gift ideas for backyard beekeepers | CanningCrafts.com

Monday, April 30, 2018

Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth recipe & nutritional health benefits of bone broth

I am a huge (and at times annoying) proponent of bone broth. Annoying because my family can’t eat a bird of any size without me asking “Uhhh, whatcha’ gonna do with that carcass?” And at any given moment, our freezer looks like an aviary graveyard. “Oh, would you care for some ice-cream? Let me just move this chicken corpse out of the way.”
Crockpot Chicken Bone Broth Recipe & the healthy benefits of eating bone broth | CanningCrafts.com
But it is well worth the effort, in my opinion. Even with its extended cook time (24-48 hours), bone broth is super easy to make. Just set in the slow cooker and forget about it. But you won’t forget about it, because every time you pass by your kitchen it will smell like heaven. And while I’m mentioning cook times, I should address Bone Broth vs Stock. Stock is more or less made the same way, but with a much shorter cook time (usually 3-4 hours). While the final broth may seem the same at a glance, time makes a huge difference. The nutrient content is much higher in bone broth because of the extra long simmering time. This releases greater amounts of collagen and minerals from the bones, joints, and connective tissue. And that in turn becomes gelatin. Oooohh, jiggly jiggly gelatin :)

The Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Bone broth is truly a “super food”. You can call it "Liquid Gold" if you wish, I do! Bone broth is made from animal parts that are normally discarded: bones, marrow, cartilage, feet, etc. But it may be surprising to some to learn that those parts are loaded with nutritional value.  Marrow contains lots of minerals and dense amounts of protein. Cooking bones for longer periods of time (24-36 hours) will result in more minerals in the broth. There’s also a study showing that bone marrow fat helps with insulin sensitivity and breaking down fat. It’s also linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity-associated cancers.
Cartilage contains glucosamine and chondroitin which are common supplements for arthritic pain. It breaks down to form collagen and gelatin which are also wonderfully healthy for you. Gelatin helps reduce joint pain and bone loss. It is chock full of amino acids such as proline, glycine, and glutamine. There’s a reason traditional Jewish chicken soup is called Jewish Penicillin! The amino acids reduce inflammation in the respiratory system, strengthen immunity, and combat the common cold. They help improve digestion and reduce inflammatory gut conditions like celiac’s and ulcers. Gelatin also helps with food sensitivities and allergies to certain foods like dairy milk and gluten. And let’s not forget about how it helps the outside of our bodies! Collagen reinforces nails, reduces wrinkles, makes your skin look amazing, and decreases cellulite.
A number of trace minerals such as sulfur, potassium, and sodium are also in bone broth. It may also be one of the best sources of calcium around. So that’s something to consider for dairy-free folks. But keep in mind, the longer cooking time of bone broth is what’s needed to bring these minerals out of the bones.
Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth Recipe & the healthy benefits of eating bone broth | CanningCrafts.com

To Slow Cook or Pressure Cook Bone Broth?

Some folks slow simmer bone broth over a low heat on their stove, but who wants to oversee that? Me, I chuck everything in my crock pot and slow cook overnight. But the question is: once I make my bone broth, do I need to use it while it is still fresh? How do I store it? Should I just freeze it? I can’t pressure cook it, right? Won’t that just destroy all the good stuff inside? 
Those last two points were the main questions I had. I assumed the intense heat from pressure cooking would neutralize the nutrients out of the broth. But as it turns out, that is up for debate. Some schools of thought say that because pressure cookers are cooking at a lower temperature than roasting, steaming, or boiling, the preservation of the nutrients is actually higher. Pressure cooking may retain up to 90% of the nutrients in some foods such as broccoli. Comparatively, boiling can result in up to 60% loss of nutrients. Yikes! The Nourished Kitchen doesn't recommend using pressure cookers for bone broth since they may denature proteins. Slow cookers cook food at a low heat level over longer periods of time. This helps preserve nutrients in bone broth. And to bring all the healthy goodies out of the bones, you need a longer cooking time.
I decided that if I was making and consuming bone broth for the health benefits, I would slow cook it and use fresh. Bone broth should be used within a week or frozen. I do freeze and reheat bone broth for soup too. But I only reheat bone broth on the stove since there's debate on whether microwaving bone broth alters the proteins and gelatin negatively. I know some people use a pressure cooker or Insta Pot for their bone broth. However, I'm not convinced that pressure cooking for a short amount of time brings out all the nutrients and gelatin. In my research, all reputable sources for bone broth recipes recommend a long cook time of 24-48 hours. It would be super handy to pull a jar of bone broth off the shelf though. As long as it's NOT OFF THE GROCERY STORE SHELF!! That's right, most boxed or canned bone broth at the grocery store is bone broth in name alone. They are processed at high heats with added preservatives to make them a shelf-stable product. Not to mention all the chemicals included in the packaging! A store-bought broth will pale in comparison to anything you make fresh too. Some stores may carry fresh or frozen bone broth though. Review the packaging ingredients and avoid MSG which is widely considered a neurotoxin. Also see if the bone broth was slow simmered which should be a sign of a quality broth.

Crockpot Chicken Bone Broth Recipe & the healthy benefits of eating bone broth | CanningCrafts.com

Tips for Making the BEST Bone Broth

There are a few easy steps to follow when preparing a good bone broth. Mind you, these aren’t make or breakers, but I think they help you get the most nutrient bang for your buck. Start with bones of grass-fed or organically raised animals. It only makes sense that using bones that were not raised with antibiotics or growth hormones would result in a healthier broth. This can be easier said than done! When you’re scrounging for bones from relatives, sometimes it’s a “take what you get” proposition.
Choose a variety of different bones for the best stock. Bones with a little meat left on them will add flavor while those with joints and connective tissues will yield more gelatin from the collagen. Marrow-filled bones lack meat and joints, but they contain lots of minerals and dense amounts of protein. So a few marrow bones are a good addition to bone broth. When I make chicken bone broth, I use the whole bird including the neck and wings. Adding a few feet will produce more gel as well.
Don't add too much water! Cover your bones with just a few inches of cold water. If you add too much water, you'll end up with a watery broth that won't have much gel. Adding the right amount of water will yield a rich-flavored broth with a nice gel. But alas, if your bone broth doesn't gel, it's still useable. It just might not be as chock full of nutrients.
The vinegar debate! Many people add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to the bones and water mixture. The ACV helps soften the bones and draws minerals and nutrients out. After cooking, your bones will start to become brittle and somewhat crumbly. Can you taste the vinegar in the broth? I personally cannot taste it. But then again, I put a whole head of garlic in my bone broth! Some people, however, don't add the vinegar at all and can't tell the difference in the final broth. Some think that adding a small amount of vinegar to the water wouldn't be enough to pull out a sufficient amount of minerals anyway. Another option is to break up the bones to draw out minerals before adding vinegar. Simmering bones in red wine before adding water is an alternative to using vinegar too.
Some people also re-use the same bones 2-4 times to make bone broth, before they turn into completely unusable mush. I tried this experiment ONCE and was not that impressed with the outcome. The second batch of broth wasn't gelatinous, so I doubt there were many nutrients and gelatin pulled out of the same bones. I added the same amount of vinegar with fresh veggies, herbs, and water to the second batch. Yet the second batch with reused bones wasn't as flavorful as round one either. It more or less tasted like veggie broth instead of chicken bone broth. So while it was still edible, I wasn't convinced it was the same "superfood."
What's the easiest way to prepare to make bone broth? I freeze cooked chicken bones and also use carcasses from cooked rotisserie chickens. You don't need meat for bone broth. Whatever small amounts of meat left on the bones is sufficient. Once I get a big bag of bones saved, I add all bones to a crock pot with veggies and herbs. You can also use raw bones, although roasting them will enhance the flavor. Roast raw bones for 45 minutes in a 425ºF oven. Then add to your crockpot and slow cook. I've also made a habit of freezing vegetable peels to add to broth too. And onion skins too. YES! Onion peels have lots of nutrients (more than the actual onion). They will give the stock a rich golden color too. Waste not, want not! 

Can You Use Other Bones Besides Chicken?

Yes, of course! You can use turkey, beef, fish, lamb, or other animal bones. Smaller animals like chicken require less time than larger bones to cook and pull out the nutrients. So a good 24 hours of cooking should be fine for chicken. Beef or lamb will most likely take a few days of slow simmering to pull all the good stuff out of the bones. Keep an eye on your water levels as you’re cooking. You can use raw bones, although roasting them will enhance the flavor. Roast raw bones for 45 minutes in a 425ºF oven before adding to your pot with water. 

Crockpot Chicken Bone Broth Recipe & the healthy benefits of eating bone broth | CanningCrafts.com

Crockpot Chicken Bone Broth Recipe & the healthy benefits of eating bone broth | CanningCrafts.com

Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth Recipe:

PRINT THE RECIPE CARD

  • Bones, marrow, necks, wings, and cartilage from healthy, grass-fed chickens. Small bits of meat on the bone is ok, but otherwise you don't need meat. Fill almost to the top of crock pot, leaving enough room for vegetables.
  • 2-4 organic carrots, quartered. Peels and tops can be left on, just scrub well.
  • 2 stalks organic celery, roughly chopped. Leaves can be left on. 
  • 1 medium organic onion, cut into quarters. Leave the peels on and remove the roots. (TIP: Save extra onion skins for future broth making)
  • 1 head of organic garlic (or less to taste). Leave the peels ON and cut whole head in half.
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar. This is important because this is what draws out the gelatin from the bones.
  • Herbs: 1-2 teaspoons each of dried marjoram, rosemary, and parsley, plus one bay leaf. You can use fresh herbs too.
  • Cold filtered water to cover everything. It usually takes 8 cups to fill my 3.5 quart crock pot to the top.
  • Optional bonus: Add chicken feet. Whaaat? YES. Chicken feet are loaded with nutrients and are healthy for you.
I cook in my crockpot on LOW, and let it go at least 24 hours overnight. You can cook longer too depending on how your crock pot cooks. Some folks cook their bone broth up to 48 hours. Let the finished broth cool down, then strain everything out with a slotted spoon. Or better yet, mash through a mesh strainer to get all the liquid gold out of the veggies and bones. I feel that any leftover meat bits are usually tasteless after cooking, so I gift-give to my very happy dog. Once cooled, the finished bone broth will be jiggly and gelatinous. My 3.5 quart crock pot yields about 2 quarts of finished bone broth. Man oh man, I wish I had a larger crock pot!
Crockpot Chicken Bone Broth Recipe & the healthy benefits of eating bone broth | CanningCrafts.com
The flavors and seasonings can be adjusted to your taste. I almost never have fresh herbs on hand, so I opt to use dried herbs instead. Rosemary and marjoram are my go-to herbs, but you may try thyme, oregano, or other herbs. If a whole head of garlic is too much for you to handle, you must be a vampire. But seriously, you can cut the garlic down to a handful of cloves for the recipe. Avoid brassica family veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, or greens as they will make broth bitter. I have successfully used swiss chard stems without the leaves in place of celery. Some root veggies such as potatoes, turnips, or beets may impact an earthy or sweet taste to broth. 

Chicken Bone Broth recipe card | CanningCrafts.com

How to Consume Bone Broth:

Some people drink bone broth in place of coffee for their morning routine. I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. Give me coffee or get the heck out of my way. For optimal health benefits, drink 8 ounces of bone broth 1-2 times a day. Feel free to add a few seasonings such as salt or pepper for extra taste. Drinking bone broth every day will help with a plethora of health conditions. Have an ulcer? Drink a cup to help heal your gut. Starting to get a cold? Sip on this magic elixir. Allergies? This liquid gold is nothing to sneeze about. Give it a go! What do you have to lose? 
There are many recipes that bone broth is perfect for. I routinely use bone broth for soup. Add some celtic sea salt with fresh chopped veggies and it's a nourishing meal. It's hard to beat a classic chicken noodle soup when you're feeling sick. One of my favorite soup recipes is this Roasted Potato & Garlic Soup that I substitute bone broth into. I'll also freeze bone broth ice cubes to drop in sautés, roasted veggies, or cooked quinoa for added flavor. Bone broth may also be dehydrated to make broth powder.
You can also do a Bone Broth Fast by drinking several quarts of broth a day for 3-4 days or by doing Intermittent FastingThis is a good amount of time to help repair the GI tract and repopulate the gut with healthy probiotics. Limit eating much solid foods other than healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and clean protein. Avoid all problematic and inflammatory foods such as processed foods, grains, FODMAPs, added sugar, dairy, refined vegetable oils, and complex carbohydrates during the fast. Those who may benefit the most from a bone broth fast include those with digestive disorders and symptoms, food allergies and sensitivities, fatigue, joint pain or arthritis, asthma, low immunity, or skin issues. Be sure to thoroughly read about fast precautions to determine if one is right for you. 
Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth Recipe & the healthy benefits of eating bone broth | CanningCrafts.com
Our Farm Fresh Rooster canning label is a great match for bone broth!

Additional Reading:

The Weston A. Price Foundation is a great resource on all nutrition and health issues with actual scientific validation. They cover the history of bone broth and the importance of consuming natural gelatin over those synthesized by food companies. If you're into super sciency reading with actual medical references and whatnot, they wrote extensively about The Essential Roles for Proline, Glycine and Gelatin in Bone Broth. It's a lengthy read for sure! 
There are many websites with a plethora of information on Bone Broth. Dr. Axe thoroughly covers the healing properties of bone broth with references to clinical studies. He also provides detailed info on bone broth fasting
Delishably has a great article about eating chicken feet. Don't be grossed out about the thought of eating chicken feet since they resemble hands! Chicken feet are filled with healthy collagen, hyaluronic acid, and chondroitin sulfate. These will benefit your skin complexion, arthritis and inflammation, and heart health. And a lot can be said about not wasting any part of an animal.
Mark's Daily Apple is a great overall resource for health and wellness. Mark Sisson has written many articles about bone broth nutrition and benefits.
The Nourished Kitchen has many great articles and even recipes for bone broth. They also have a recipe technique called Perpetual Bone Broth which makes gallons per week.
Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth Recipe & the healthy benefits of eating bone broth | CanningCrafts.com

Have you made bone broth before? Do you have any special recipes, tips or tricks? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Homemade Potting Soil Recipe for Planting Carrots in Containers

As some of you may or may not know, my garden spot is rather small. Minuscule, even. I cram an awful lot in there and push the ol’ boy to his limits. That’s right, my garden is a “he.” Ships are girls and gardens are boys. Look it up. It’s science. So this year, since space is at a premium, I decided to give container gardening a go. Also, I wanted to try out an array of new carrot varieties.
 
carrots | CanningCrafts.com
 
The first step is to find a receptacle for your garden to grow in. For carrots, you really only need it to be about one to one-and-a-half feet deep. I found a Christmas tree storage container that is going to be perfect for growing carrots. My husband even decorated it with some fun carrot doodles (more on that later). It is large enough to accommodate the quantity I plan on growing, but is still small enough to be mobile, if necessary. I drilled more than a dozen 1/4” holes on the bottom for proper drainage. I then placed newspaper inside on the bottom of the container before filling with soil. This will make sure that it doesn’t create a muddy mess all over my porch. 
growing carrots in a container | CanningCrafts.com
 
You need a loose and light soil mix for carrots to flourish. A soil that isn’t compacted will allow your carrots to grow longer. I am using a near equal combination of sphagnum peat moss, perlite, and compost. There are other alternatives you can try as well, which I'll list later. Why make your own soil instead of buying a convenient bagged mix? The cost is much less to make your own. PLUS, there's the added benefit of knowing exactly what's in it. So you can tailor your mix for specific foods that you grow.
Homemade potting soil mix recipe | CanningCrafts.com
 

Sphagnum Peat Moss

Peat moss is sought after because of its ability to retain several times its weight in moisture. It releases moisture to plant roots as needed. Peat moss is widely available to buy and is inexpensive. Coco coir (the fibrous material around the shell of a coconut) is also a very good option in place of peat moss.
 

Perlite or Vermiculite

Perlite is a volcanic glass/ash that's used to aerate the soil and keep it well draining. It can hold 3-4 times it's weight in water without becoming soggy. It's sterile and pH-neutral and doesn't break down easily. Vermiculite is a mineral that's expanded in a furnace, making it lightweight. It adds aeration to soil and retains nutrients. It must, howeverbe handled gently. If handled roughly, it will compact and lose the ability to hold air. Vermiculite holds water, contains calcium and magnesium, and is almost pH-neutral. I opted to go with perlite for my container instead of vermiculite due to cost. Perlite is much less expensive.
 

Compost, aka "Black Gold"

Compost adds lots of nutrients to the mix. In fact, it's one of the best fertilizers around. Compost is a good source of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. The nutrients in compost are slowly released. The micronutrients in compost are essential for plant growth. Compost retains moisture, and improves the chemical, physical, and biological quality of soil. Overall, compost creates a better environment for plant roots. My compost needed sifted since it was a little chunky in it’s current state. There were avocado pits and bits that hadn't broken down yet. It needed to be much finer in texture to accommodate carrots. After all, I was after long carrots. So I wanted to avoid any obstacles in the soil that may impeded their growth.
 
homemade potting soil mix recipe | CanningCrafts.com

Alternative & Eco-Friendly Soil Mixes

Peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite contribute to pollution when mined, processed, and packaged. There are several alternative and more eco-friendly potting soil ingredients you can try. Peat moss comes from wetland bogs which help sequester carbon. It grows slow, so increased demand may encourage over harvesting. So conservation of peat bogs is as important as protecting the rainforests. Composted tree bark, wood chips, and rotted leaves are good substitutes. And since we're surrounded by trees, most of those ingredients are free!
 
Alfalfa may be another good option to replace peat moss. It's rich in nitrogen which is slowly released into soil.
 
Coarse sand (bulider's sand) can replace perlite, a mined ore, to lighten soil and improve drainage. A little sand goes a long way. Adding too much will make the soil heavy. Avoid fine sands which end up making soil dense and heavy too.
 
Vermiculite naturally contains a small amount of asbestos. Inhaling asbestos fibers is dangerous as they are carcinogenic. You should wear a mask and only use vermiculite in ventilated areas. Wetting it helps the dust from spreading. Pine fines, finely ground pine bark, are a good alternative to vermiculite. Coco coir, ground coconut husk, is also a good replacement. Depending on your location, it may be an exotic ingredient as it comes from India or Central America. Coco coir can hold up to nine times its weight in water and also help aerate the soil. 
 
Many gardeners use their best garden soil amended with compost or composted manure. Clean, commercial top soil would be okay to use as long as it's untreated. I toss old potting soil from houseplants into my compost too. Soil doesn't go BAD, it just becomes lacking in nutrients. So organic matter needs added back into soil over time.
 
Newspaper is often used in the garden as a natural mulch and weed suppressant. Some gardeners even make potting cups from folded newspapers. Ground up newspaper helps retain moisture and adds organic matter to soil. There has been debate amongst organic gardeners on the safety of using newspaper in soilMost newspapers use soy inks and bleach paper using hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine bleach.
 

Alternative Fertilizers

If your soil mix is lacking in compost, you may consider an organic fertilizer. The fertilizer choice would depend on the base growing mix. And since many fertilizers effect the pH, choose appropriately! Blood meal adds nitrogen and bone meal adds phosphorus. Kelp meal, greensand, or other minerals add minor nutrients. I often hear great things about bat guano, although I've never used it. I have used wood ash in my garden before because my mom claims it's the best. Mom is NEVER wrong. Composted manure is often a fan favorite for gardeners. The pièce de résistance (in my particular case, at least), is my manure fertilizer. That’s because it is “Grade A, 100% Marion Township, Grey Donkey Dung” (a direct quote from my father-in-law). This manure is as near a perfect example of nature’s fertilizer that you are likely to find on God’s green earth. Add organic fertilizers in small amounts or if your plants aren't growing how you want them to. 
 
Donkey manure fertilizer | CanningCrafts.com
This is Norman and Lady. Their poop is in my garden. And the world's greatest father-in-law drove that poop four hours round trip to my house. And Norman thinks that's hilarious...

 

Planting Carrots 

Planting carrot seeds is as easy as sprinkling the seeds along the surface. They shouldn’t be that far apart from one another, and can even be planted in clusters of three, if you prefer. The seeds should not be planted deep at all, so spread a rather thin layer of your soil mixture overtop. Carrots need a very moist soil to germinate in. This can prove problematic since the top layer of soil will dry out quickly due to evaporation. Some find it easier to pre-water the ground before dropping the seeds. Then watering again after the covering the seeds with soil. Remember to keep an eye on your carrots in these early days, so the ground never goes too dry or becomes a swamp.
 

Thinning Carrots

Once the seeds germinate and have spouted to a couple inches high, you will need to thin them out. Each remaining carrot should be about an inch apart. The thinning process is very important! Overcrowded carrots won't get the nutrients, moisture, and space needed to thrive. You may need to mound up soil around your carrots that remain, so the roots aren’t exposed.
 
If you want your carrots to do really well, you may want to thin them a second time after another month. This time try to get them an inch and a half to two inches apart. These little carrots should be substantial enough for you to eat. If careful, you can try transplanting thinned carrots to areas with low germination. Try to get them into the ground as upright as possible—I know, that’s tricky! Remember to cover over the roots so they avoid exposure to sunlight. Once the carrots are about three inches tall, I'll add more compost fertilizer around them.
 
Thinning Carrots | CanningCrafts.com

Crazy Carrot Container

Oh yes, before I wrap this up I should mention my husband’s vandalization of the carrot container. I asked for something classy and stylish… and instead I got this! Just kidding! I think this is super cute and love that the soil comes through behind the cartoons. He used acrylic paint markers that will hopefully hold up to the elements. We shall see. 
 
Carrot Garden Container | CanningCrafts.com
YES. There will inevitably be a squirrel digging in my container. 
 
Carrot Garden Container | CanningCrafts.com
And swallowtail caterpillars are big fans of carrot tops.
 
Carrot Garden Container | CanningCrafts.com
Sometimes I get funky carrots with multiple limbs. I'm hopeful that planting in a container this year will eliminate crazy carrots! 

Carrot Deformities & Growing Issues

A proper soil mix free of rocks and debris will ensure long straight carrots. But there are other carrot growing issues that may come up. Splitting happens if there's inadequate moisture or fluctuations in moisture. Carrots need just the right amount of water, about an inch a week during the growing season. The soil should be moist but not waterlogged. Roots will rot if there's too much moisture. If you neglect to water carrots, compensating by overwatering will lead to cracks. Moisture stress causes stunted growth as well. Too much nitrogen can also cause cracking and multiple roots to form.

Overcrowding can cause deformities such as forking and splitting in carrots. Plant and thin according to the seed packet guidelines. Use a loose soil and remove weeds to allow carrots to grow straight. Mulching around carrots will help suppress weeds.
 
Deformed and cracked carrots are usually still safe to eat. You can cut off damaged portions if they don't look right. I often add deformed carrots to my chicken bone broth.
 
Of course if you don't want to eat your deformed carrots, you can always PLAY with them!
 Twisted Carrot Theater | CanningCrafts.com

 Twisted Carrot Theater | CanningCrafts.com
Aster yellows disease also causes deformities including secondary roots. This disease is caused by a mycoplasma organism carried to plants by the aster or six-spotted leafhopper. While the disease affects many other plants, carrots are often the most affected. The first symptom is yellowing leaves, then plants are stunted. Taproots become very hairy, pale in color, and bitter tasting. Affected carrots are may be inedible because of the taste.

Additional Reading

ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture has a handy PDF download on organic potting soil mixes. They have tips on making your own potting soil mix with additional info on fertilizers.
Planting Carrots in Containers with Homemade Potting Soil Recipe | CanningCrafts.com

Do you plant your carrots in raised beds or containers? Do you have any growing tips or favorite soil mixes?