July III: the carrot season so far…

2017 is the year I have cracked many of the problems of growing carrots.

The crucial issue is sowing into good compost. All my carrots this year were sown in my best compost and the result was too dense a young stand due to the excellent germination rates achieved. Thinning is not ideal for young carrots, but better that than no young plants to grow on into roots.

The featured picture at the top of the post is five rows of Nantes/Sweet Candle sown 2 days before the April Full Moon. 16 weeks after sowing, a test pull suggested roots were ready to start harvesting, providing a steady crop until the end of October.

Two 3 metre rows of Amsterdam Forcing Carrots sown on March 31st were harvested through July (13-17 weeks), mostly finger carrots for salads, but the final harvest on July 27th yielded 3lb suitable for cooking and making soups.

Four 1.5m rows of Autumn King were sown 2 days before the May Full moon, using seeds attached to tape, as sold by Thompson and Morgan. I found laying the tape a bit fiddly, but a good stand has now emerged, as shown below:

Good sized roots already can be discerned when scrabbling the soil around the plants.

I have also experimented growing carrots in 17 litre polypot bags, firstly Sweet Candle for exhibitions (sown 8th April) and secondly, Berlicum as a late crop, sown on 30th June. Germination of both was excellent and the pots are shown below:

The major lesson from 2017 is not to bother sowing carrots in any soil lacking good compost. 2015 and 2016 by comparison gave awful germination without good compost.

So if you are starting out, limit yourself initially to crops which tolerate less rich soil, like broad beans, beetroot, lettuce etc. Once you have mastered making good compost, carrots will grow easily and fresh harvests from the end of June until the first frost in November can be achieved, along with a harvest to store and use through the winter months. But lacking it and the slugs will devour all your seedlings long before you even have decent sized plants.

 

Author: Rhys

Rhys trained as a research biologist, working for a decade in the cancer research charity sector, before completing an MBA and working in management consultancy, technology transfer and early technology investment spaces, mostly working with UK academics to turn their scientific discoveries into value for society. AS a younger man, he was fascinated with mountains, both climbing them and ski-ing down them. Whilst living in Scotland, he completed a round of (then) all 277 Munros, the independent mountains over 3000ft originally complied as a list by Munro. He also spent his holidays representing the Ski Club of GB, as a Representative and Party Leader between 1990 and 1997. During that time, he found to his bemusement that he was able to predict, without understanding fully why, to a remarkable degree of accuracy, when good snow conditions would occur in the Alps, gaining an unworthy reputation for predictive genius in 1990 when predicting the evolution of the 1989/90 winter in Wengen, Switzerland for his CEO boss. He used this skill for the next seven years to ensure that he enjoyed powder snow pretty much every time he went ski-ing. An MD student he was training in Oxford also impressed his wife by taking Rhys' advice about when to take her to Italy in the mid 1990s! In recent years, Rhys has turned his mind toward how to grow prize tomatoes, winning several prizes in local and London shows and has, in the past 3 years, moved toward taking over a 50 square metre urban vegetable patch, which he has turned into a no-dig area since autumn 2014.

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