All About CARROTS
Why grow carrots when they are not expensive from the shops? It is ALL about the flavour: far more sweet and satisfying and fresh from your plot. And with so many different varieties available there really is nothing humble about home-grown carrots!
Your soil needs to be well dug so that it is loose, without clods or stones. If your soil is heavy consider growing carrots in raised beds or deep pots for long roots. Any compost needs to be really well rotted to avoid forked roots. These don’t affect the taste, they look fun but they do make preparing your meals hard work!
Sowing can take place at different times. In late winter you can sow in a cold frame or greenhouse or under good cloches. Use cloches to warm the soil for early spring sowing and then you can keep sowing every two weeks or so until midsummer for a continual supply of delicious carrots. After that you will need to sow specific ‘late’ varieties that will grow happily in the autumn and winter..
Make a shallow drill (5-6mm deep) and water before sowing otherwise your seeds will wash away. The seeds are tiny and need to be sown thinly. Try a small pinch between your thumb and finger and gently roll them: you are aiming to get them about 15mm apart so that you don’t need to thin them lots. Cover them with some well rotted compost or vermiculite – this avoids a ‘cap’ forming and helps show where you sowed. Seeds take 2-3 weeks to germinate so don’t panic.
Handling the foliage releases a scent that attract carrot root fly. If you need to thin do it in the evening. Using fine scissors to clip off seedlings creates less scent than pulling (clear the trimmings to your compost heap). And of course thinly sown seed needs less thinning as they grow: young summer carrots eventually need 2.5-5cm to grow well so you will have pulled some baby carrots to reach that spacing.
I have already mentioned that carrot seed can easily wash away and there is a trick to avoid this. Make a watering channel next to your carrot row which you can slowly water letting it soak in to where the carrot roots will be growing. So that you dont have a weedy watering channel fill it with leaf-mould to suppress the weeds. You will need to water every day and once your carrots are up you can water less frequently but don’t let the soil dry out - if it does then water a bit every day as one big drenching can cause the carrot roots to swell suddenly and split. Keep well weeded and after the final thinning you can mulch with shredded leaves or straw.
Give them enough time to grow then you can poke your finger into the soil to double-check. Pull gently or use a fork to loosen the soil and enjoy the amazing flavour of freshly harvested homegrown carrots.