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Carrots

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It's nice to see a vegetable on the plate which isn't green. Carrots are not the easiest vegetable to grow, but they are not difficult either. A long cropping season is possible. 12 months of the year if the maincrop is properly stored in sand. Carrots do not really freeze well, even though people do freeze them.

 

A deep medium to sandy soil is best. Free of large stones preferably. Heavier clay soils will grow carrots if they are well worked and improved. Fresh manure should not be added before sowing. In a 3 year rotation the carrots will go on the plot manured 2 years ago. Liming shouldn't be needed unless the soil is below pH 6.5. Carrots do not require as high a pH as do Brassicas or Peas and Beans.

 

A nutrient content in balance suits carrots. Adjust soil according to soil test results, if a test has been carried out. Otherwise use a balanced general purpose fertilizer (NPK proportions 1:1:1 multiples of by percentage such as 10:10:10) Liquid feeding may be needed during growth. Water the crop frequently in dry spells, as carrots have a high water content, and therefore a need for plenty of water. If they get too dry, the roots will harden up, and then crack when soil returns to be being moist again.

 

Carrots can be anything from small round roots like golf balls to long tapering roots about 60cm long. Not many people will want either of those, and somewhere inbetween in best. Early varieties are usually stump rooted and grow to approximately 10 to 15cm long. Maincrop may be pointed or stump rooted and reach up to 25cm long.

 

The distance between rows varies, depending on the variety and circumstances. In cold frames or on hot beds an early variety needs only 15cm between the rows. Outdoor sowings require 25 to 30cm between rows. To walk between the rows to hoe etc a distance of less than 25cm would make life difficult, even though carrot tops do not need very much space.

 

Sow thinly, and thinning will not be required. Just pull the largest first and leave the rest to develop. If thinned, 5cm should be enough, even for maincrop carrots. No-one wants enormous carrots anymore.

 

Carrot root fly is a real problem with carrots, but it shouldn't be. It is very easy to prevent. There is no need to resort to chemicals either. Organically grown carrots grown commercially are often full of carrot root fly larvae. I prefer my vegetables without maggots. Gardeners may notice that the crops grown in Cold frames do not get effected, but outdoor crops do. The reason is the carrot fly is a ground hopping insect, unable to jump higher than 30cm. The cold frame effectively creates a barrier. If a frame without its top is used to grow the outdoor crop during the summer then that too will not be effected. Have the sides 45cm high for good measure. Of course organic Farmers with big fields cannot do this, which is why supermarket organic carrots often have been affected. For non organic growing, effective chemical pesticides are available to the professional. Soil pesticides available to Amateurs do not seem to be very effective. Potent chemicals are just not allowed into the hands of Amateurs nowadays by law. The barrier method is better for both organic and non organic gardeners.

 

Pull young carrots throughout the season by successionally sowing up to June. Maincrop can be lifted and stored in Autumn. In milder and dryer areas it is possible to leave the crop in the ground overwinter and dig as required.

 

 

 




 

 

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