I must confess I have never grown a carrot in my life but there is a first time for everything and I started some off on my windowsill like an optimistic fool in March and so began “The Great Carrot Experiment“. Things were going well or so I though when I foolishly transplanted them outside in late April and the whole lot promptly died on me !
Not sure whether it was a slug massacre, carrot -fly or a nasty frost but they were gone,wiped out forever.
Not to be perturbed by this set back I decided to plant some directly into the soil in my raised bed and see if that was a better way to go but after two months of not a whisper of a carrot I was all most about to give up.
I thought maybe the new seeds I had brought were to blame so I started “The New Great Carrot Experiment” I planted them in three different locations and different types soils – some were in starter pots with a mix of sand and soil, some were on my windowsill in potting compost and some were in the raised bed of course interspersed with scallions to deter carrot fly .
Last week we had a couple of days of warmth and sunshine and low and behold carrots seedlings started to appear – everywhere.
These are my raised bed seedlings that I thought were lost – sprouting in neat square foot planting spaces next to the scallions.
The ones planted in pots with grit/sand / soil mix – sprouted last so are tiny but there, they are in a slightly less sunny location.
Lastly on the windowsill they arrived at same time as the outdoor ones – one burst of sun and they appeared – so my conclusion to The Great Carrot Experiment is carrot seeds need warm sun to sprout nothing else seems to matter for now.
CARROT CARE 101
- Sowing time: Mid to Late spring & throughout summer
- Sowing location: Direct into rows
- Sow seed 1-2cm deep
- Sow 3 to 4 seeds every 7 to 10cm, thin later
- If thinning is required, do so once seedlings develop their first true leaves
- Dispose of thinnings do not leave on vegetable plot so not to attract carrot fly ( I eat them !)
Soil : Prepare soil creating a deep, light & free draining soil
- Heavy clay soils are not suitable – improve by gardening sand or horticultural grit aim to achieve a fine crumbly texture.
- When working the bed, remove all weeds, roots, rocks and small stones.
- Do not add manure as it can make the soil too rich for the seeds.
- Cover early sown seeds and seedlings using garden cloche or fleece.
- Carrot seeds hate drying out, if sowing in summer make sure to keep moist.
- Weed rows regularly.
- When they start to form carrots cover the carrot tops with extra soil to prevent green top.
- Protect against carrot fly and other predators (See below)
Harvesting and Storage
- Pull up carrots as soon as they are big enough to eat.
- Best to harvest in the evening to avoid carrot fly attack
- Use a fork to lift, being careful not to damage the carrots
- Late sown carrots must be lifted by October and stored over winter
- Cut off foliage and lay the roots between layers of sand in a storage box
- Store somewhere cool and dry.
Pests and Diseases
- Pests: Carrot fly and slugs
- The carrot fly lays eggs that attack the carrot it’s larvae leave small black tunnels throughout the root causing wilting
- Reduce attack by using a fine mesh to protect crop or co-plant with other plants such as garlic, chives,scallions sage and rosemary will also help to deter carrot fly.
- Remove all thinnings from your vegetable plot as the smell attracts the flies.
- Or try carrot fly resistant varieties such as ‘fly away’
- Slugs – see my Slug Wars post HERE