“Whats Up Doc”
Some people can often be very fussy about different vegetables but carrots are one of those vegetables that most people like, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Sunday roast without them! Carrots are an excellent source of beta carotene, the source of vitamin A, Vitamin C and they are also high in fibre. They come in many shapes, sizes and colours, from round ones to stumpy looking ones, orange ones,yellow ones, white ones and even purple ones and guess what… orange was not the original colour, purple and white were apparently the original colours. They can be eaten raw as a nibbly snack, grated in salads, roasted, boiled and even used as an ingredient for a cake mix 🙂
Most carrots need deep, sandy soil that has been dug over well removing any stones or clumps of clay so that it is a nice crumbly consistency for the roots to grow. If your soil is very ‘clayey’ then try to add some sand and maybe some perlite to help lighten it. If you are going to add fresh manure to the seed bed you must prepare it the season before the crop is to be planted, as a freshly manured bed will make the roots fork instead of growing long and straight. If you haven’t got manured planting beds then you need to add some good organic fertilizer before sowing your seeds. The reason that carrots fork if your manure is too fresh is due to the excess nitrogen and the carrot seedlings will hunt deeper into the soil to find nutrients which is how the roots will split into different directions (fork)!! Another theory is that the hot fresh manure burns the roots which make them fork….best not to add fresh eh 😉
Carrot seeds are tiny and it is a good idea to sow them as thinly as possible, so you can either sprinkle by tapping the packet very gently, pop some into your hands and sprinkle or you could add some sand to the seeds and them sow. I have never tried the latter but it is something that people do. This reduces the amount of thinning necessary and potential risk from pests such as the carrot fly. Carrots need to be planted in drills approximately 1/2 inch deep and about 4-6 inches apart (read your seed packet as this can vary depending on the variety you are growing).
Carrots are relatively pest free vegetables apart from the carrot fly. This horrid little pest is drawn to the carrots by the smell of crushed foliage as you pull the thinnings, so to reduce the risk of an attack try to do this task only in the evenings and on a still day, removing any thinnings and watering afterwards. Carrot fly are also low flying insects so if you are planting in raised boarders you are less likely to get an attack. Also, if growing on the ground you could try to put a net around the area that you are growing the carrots which will also help to deter these horrid little pests.
Once the seeds have germinated which may take a good week or so, depending on when you sowed them, wait till they are large enough before thinning them out. I always wait till they are big enough to use the thinnings which are so sweet and tender.
Carrot plants need little very little attention whilst they are growing, although the plants should be kept well watered as too little water will only result in poor yields and woody roots.
Carrots can be harvested 12-16 weeks after sowing depending on when they were sown and which variety you are using. Start pulling up your carrots as soon as they’re big enough to eat.