K's Garden

Building a large garden on a budget

Growing Carrots Tuesday 14 April 2009

We had some really sweet Nantes 2 in 2008, and I stupidly thought I had seed left over … and its taken me ages to get around to buying some, so sowing the crop is delayed this year. I sowed 30 on12th April in newspaper pots, so that I can plant them out directly with no root disturbance, hoping that will help them catch up a bit (and will mean that there are no thinnings, which should discourage the Carrot Fly). I thought to plant some of them in the greenhouse, but its had a lot of manure added this Spring so that’s probably a bad idea (Manure tends to make the roots fork and grow lots of hair-like roots, presumably to suck up the goodness! which spoils the roots for the kitchen).  Anyway, Plan B will be to grow some of them in containers as an experiment, and then hopefully next year I’ll be able to do that with the really early crop; and I suppose I could also sow in containers in August and then bring into the cold Greenhouse in October for a Winter harvest.

Looking for Nantes 2 in the local garden centre I also came across Nantes 5 – I have absolutely no idea what the difference is, but it seems that I ought to find out as there may be some magic in the different numbers. If you know please leave me a comment.

Biggest problem with growing Carrots is the Carrot Fly. This can be kept off the crop with fine netting, so that’s worth doing. I have heard the netting only needs to be arranged like a fence, because the fly can’t fly very high. The Marshalls Seed website suggests “A simple idea is to insert canes at four corners around your row, wind cling-film around the canes forming a low cage about 8-10 inches high around your carrots, making sure the bottom is in direct contact or tucked into the soil. Carrot Root Fly flies low to the ground and the film will form a barrier it cannot cross, but allows light and air to get to your precious seedlings!

I think you only need to protect the crop for the duration of the carrot fly “season” – which peaks around mid-May

I have heavy clay, so would probably be better off growing a shorter variety, which will mature more quickly. I’ve never though of the Globe type Carrots as being “proper carrots” though, and I live in fear of being asked to peel them! so I have never grown Globe Carrots. Perhaps I’m missing something?My aim is to sow the seed so that the plants are at half their normal distance, and then the thinnings will be nice little salad carrots. If they are to thick I thin them with scissors – cutting off the tops, rather than puling them and disturbing the roots of their neighbours. I thin in the evening to try not to encourage the Carrot fly with the smell of carrots! Be very careful if hoeing not to damage the root – the smell will attract the fly and probably make the root rot.Soil needs to be conducive to the roots getting down deep, and straight. Lots of stones are bad news – removing them will help.

Water the drill before sowing, and keep it moist until the plants are established – otherwise germination will be erratic / patchy.

Keep the soil damp – alternative Dry and Wet will make the root split as it grows – so a downpour on dry soil will potentially do damage if the bed has not been kept moist.

Mulch in Summer – which will help to stop the shoulders of the crown going green (i.e. by stopping it being exposed to the light), which makes the root bitter.

No need to feed the Carrots – that will only encourage them to make Tops rather than Roots, although I have read that a foliar feed is beneficial.

I “feel” round the tops of the Carrot to see how big it is, and in that way choose which ones to harvest first. They get a bit woody, and tough, if left in the grown too long.

Rotation: part of the Umbelliferae / Roots family they normally follow the Brassica / Cabbage family and the plot should not be manured – a plot manured for the previous crop is ideal. Do not fertilize heavily either – it tends to make the roots fork.

2009 Season : as mentioned above as an experiment this year I am growing 30 Nantes 2 in pots made from newspaper, and they will be transplanted whole to avoid any root disturbance. I’m going to try some in containers too witha  view to using that in future seasons for an early crop (and a late Autumn crop too)

2009 Varieties: Carrot Nantes 2; Carrot Bangor F1; Carrot Autumn King 2.

Update: The Newspaper Pots worked well, but its too much faff – large numbers of pots needed. I do use Newspaper pots for parsnips (I grow about 50), Sweetcorn (100) and Sweetpeas (150), but can’t be bothered for Carrots, but see How to make Newspaper pots


2 Responses to “Growing Carrots”

  1. Michael Says:

    I am trying the tip of growing carrots between onions – the smell of the latter hides that of the former. No fly damage found so far, but the carrot were a main crop and came up after the height of the fly season.

    • kgarden Says:

      I’ve heard that Onions / Garlic can fool the carrot fly’s smell senses. I’m rather pedantic about my crop rotation so haven’t mixed the two – as yet!

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