Growing Carrots – Allotment Gardening

Growing Carrots

carrotsCarrots can be generally categorised into one of three main kinds.
Short-rooted carrots:

Usually the earliest to be sown, and range from near round golf ball size to stump rooted finger size.
Intermediate-rooted carrots:

This is the more popular variety that’s grown by the armature gardener, ranging in size from 6 to 9 inches long. Most have tapering roots, but a few exhibit cylindrical growth with stump ended roots.These are usually classed as main-crop carrots.
Long-rooted carrots:
This is the one that’s nearly always seen on the show benches. The long tapering roots seem to have no end to the length that they can be grown.

Soil Preparation for carrots.
Carrots are quite demanding about what soil they will grow in. A deep, sandy and fertile soil will do them fine, but they dislike being in soil that’s had manure added in the last year. Heavy and stony soil will produce fork rooted and twisted carrots that are difficult to prepare.

By far the easiest way is to make a trench 8 to 10 inches deep, 12 inches wide early in the year, or at least few months before sowing. Fill the trench with old/used potting compost that was in any grow bags or tubs from last year. Break up any large lumps and remove the largest of the old plant roots, allow the rain to thoroughly soak the compost.

A similar way would be to use a raised bed, filled in the same way but these tend not to be as deep, so use for shorter rooted varieties.

About 2 weeks before sowing rake the surface level, incorporating a good general fertilizer.

Sowing carrot seed.
The necessity to sow the seeds thinly doesn’t become apparent until all the seeds germinate and two thirds of what has been sown has to be thinned out to allow the carrots to grown. Ideally each carrots would have 2 to 3 inch between each plant, but in practise this depend on the size of carrot wanted and the variety. Each row should be 6 inch apart this allows for weeding and produces less disruption to surrounding rows when harvesting.

Early carrots: Sow a short rooted variety at the beginning of march, either in a cold frame or under cloches.

Main crop Carrots: Sown slightly later, around mid- April until early June, to produce a harvest in September – October.

Late crop: A harvest of young tender carrots can be had in November-December by sowing a early short rooted variety in August. These will need frame or cloche protection as the weather deteriorates in autumn.

General care.
Thin the young seedlings so they are not competing with each other for water and room to grow, 1-2 inch for small finger size carrots and 2-3 inch for larger main crop varieties.
The remaining carrots will need to be firmed back in after the disturbance caused by thinning out, either by hand or watering in.
Keep the bed free of weeds and water in dry weather, dry soil leads to the carrots splitting once it is re- watered.

Harvesting carrots.
The early sowing made in early march should be ready to harvest in June.
Main crop carrots are harvested as and when required, or left to grow to their full size and lifted in late September for storing.

Resist the temptation to pull the carrot out of the soil by its leaves, use a hand fork to ease the plants out of the soil to avoid breaking the longer roots.
Any carrots remaining in the row will need watering back in, to settle the soil around their roots.

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