Growing Carrots – All About How to Grow Carrots
How to Grow Carrots
Daucus carota sativa
The carrot is a splendid vegetable for small gardens or for growing in tubs and other large containers. Growing carrots in containers, themixture can easily be controlled, and even in small, odd patches of ground it is not much trouble to provide the stone-free, light, but rich soil in which carrots thrive. Some varieties are recommended for growing on shallow soils; but as the only reason for this is their short length (or roundness, as in the ‘Early French Frame’ type), it is a better proposition to prepare your planting site well and get a decent-sized carrot out of it.
Carrots are classified, according to root shape and size, as stump-rooted, long, intermediate, and so on. The short, stump-rooted varieties are useful for early crops, usually brought forward by protection under a cloche or in a cold frame; the lighter the soil, the longer the carrot type that may be grown. (Strange-shaped carrots sometimes make the headlines; their formation is usually due either to the root striking a stone or to the use of too-fresh manure.)
When growing carrots in warmer areas, you should sow from March onwards (or from February if protection is provided) and in colder ones from April. The seeds are large enough to handle individually, and in small plots this is worth doing. Sow a few at a time at intervals of about 3 weeks so as to get a succession of carrots; they should be sown, in rows or blocks, at a depth of 12-20 mm (½-¾ in) and 100-150 mm (4-6) apart depending on root type.
Light soil should be improved, for growing carrots, by the addition of peat and very well-matured compost dug in as early as possible in the autumn. Heavier soils can be used if they have been well composted for a previous crop; but they should also be dug in the autumn and lightened with theaddition of peat and sharp sand. Soil for half-tubs or other deep containers may be prepared on the above principles; but it may be easier to buy prepared soil, such as John Inns 2 or 3, and ‘improve’ it with sharp sand and peat in proportions of 7 parts prepared soil, 2-3 parts peat, and 1 part sharp sand. Then sprinkle on a dusting of general fertiliser and fork it in. Leave the soil for a month, keeping it moist if the weather is unexpectedly dry.
If the seeds were sown thinly enough, no thinning will be necessary when the seedlings emerge. If more than one seedling emerges from a single growing point, retain only the strongest one and firm the soil again. Remove the unwanted plants from the site as the scent of crushed foliage attracts the carrot-root fly. When the seedlings are 40-50 mm (1-½ – 2 in) high, heap a little soil around the root; this will help prevent development of green-topped roots.
The carrot-root fly is the major pest of carrots. Its grubs burrow into the roots and ruin them. They can be controlled to some extent with bromophos or other suitable insecticides, which should be sprinkled into the soil when sowing.
Harvest as required. A surplus of the larger-rooted varieties may be pulled in late autumn and early winter for storing in boxes of sand kept in a cool but frost-free shed. Cut off the leaves before boxing.
Recommended varieties: (all suitable for freezing) ‘Amsterdam Forcing’ (selected strains such as ‘Amstel’ and ‘Sweetheart’), stump-rooted, early, suitable for forcing; ‘Chantenay Red Cored’ (selected strains such as ‘Royal Chantenay’ and ‘Supreme’), stump-rooted, main crop; ‘Guerande’ (’Oxheart’), large-shouldered, stump-rooted variety suitable for forcing, fine flavour; ‘Juared’ (’Juwarot’), excellent flavour, suitable for storing; ‘Nantes’ (selected strains such as ‘Express’ and ‘Tiptop’), suitable for early, late, and forcing
Site: Not too shady
Soil: Light, stone-free, rich
Sow: From March in the open; from February if protected
Harvest: When required