Garden Club - Carrots

I have been inspired by all of you trying to grown something new – new because you haven’t grown things before. Therefore, the new to me means I have decided to give carrots a go. I haven’t grown these before because carrots are relatively cheap in the supermarket and there is the issue of the carrot fly. Now the garden Centres have opened up, I have been able to select a heritage packet. I should be pulling up a variety of different coloured carrots at carrot harvest time in October.

The carrot is a biennial which means it has a life cycle over two years. The original cultivated carrot appears to come from Afghanistan around 5,000 years ago. Carrots have traditional come in all sorts of colours: white, yellow, purple or violet as well as the modern-day orange.

It has been said the first orange carrot was developed in the 16th century Holland by patriotic growers who bred it as a tribute to the king. William 1 of orange.

Thanks to my NVQ students who have helped put this guide together

Where to grow carrots

Carrots like deep, fertile, free-draining and sandy soil. An open and sunny soil location is best in general.

When to grow carrots

Early-cropping carrot seeds can be sown in March, or possibly February. Main crop carrots have a planting season of between April and early July.

When to harvest carrots

Seeds sown directly into the soil will usually be ready for harvest about three to four months later.

How to prepare the soil for carrots

Try not to sow (plant) carrot seeds in ground that has already been manured, because lots of organic matter or stones will impact on the vegetable’s growth. Prepare the soil in the autumn and add a general multi-purpose fertiliser a couple of weeks before putting seeds in.

How to sow carrot seeds

1. Use a cane, or wooden stake or pole to press onto the soil surface, creating a drill line about 0.5inches (1cm) deep in which to plant carrot seeds.

2. Keep each drill line about 6inches (15cm) apart.

3. Sprinkle seeds vary sparingly into the line, then carefully cover over the soil with your hand or a small trowel.

4. Remember to mark where your carrot seeds are with a label.

5. Water each line of carrot seeds well after planting and keep well-watered, but not overwatered.

6. You can plant seeds at two-week intervals, to get a continuous harvest through the season.

7. As the plants grow, thin out to ensure an eventual vigorous growth by removing weaker plants or bunches too close to each other.

How to protect carrots

Carrot root fly can be a problem among crops, so keep thinning out to reduce the risk. Erecting clear polythene or horticultural fleece barriers will also help to keep the flies away and from attacking your plants.

How to harvest carrots

You may be able to begin harvesting carrots from June, according to your planting times. Pull the roots of the smaller carrots first, while carefully using a fork to lift larger plants in heavy soil, if necessary. Some plants can be left in the ground until autumn, to help you store carrots for longer.

Growing carrots in containers

It’s best to grow this vegetable in open ground, but if your soil is shallow or has heavy clay, use a short-rooted variety seed and grow in a container.

I have decided to have a go at growing carrots in a carrot planter (conveniently orange to remind me what I am growing) because I have stony soil. Carrots tend to develop lots of wiggly roots rather than one root when they hit a stone, this is called forking. It makes them difficult to peel and for some people they appear to be somewhat rude in shape.

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