The Great Carrot Experiment – in the Garden

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.

Crop Maintenance

  • 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

I will keep you updated on there progress and let you know if they turn into lovely orange carrots by September.

Have you had any luck growing carrots let me know your tips and trick ? Please help a novice out feel free to leave comments below 🙂

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