I’ve have my allotment now for about 8 years and I love the challenge of growing vegetables. Each year I like to find something new I haven’t tried and each year I try to grow a blimming decent carrot.
I’ve been getting better each year, but as yet I haven’t been able to grow one of those magnificent carrots you can buy at market. Mine grow into what I would describe as ‘rather rude looking’ and maybe even ‘obscene’.
Here’s what I have learnt over the years.
Carrots love a bit of sun, they hate stones, they adore free draining soil they loathe carrot fly.
Lets start with your soil, if you have heavy soil filled with stones, your carrots will turn into my type of carrot ‘the rather rude’ looking ones. I won’t go into to much detail except to say they fork off into all directions and end up looking like little orange naked men. Need I say more? Whilst it makes for a few giggles down on the plot it’s still pretty disappointing. So if your growing them in the earth make sure you remove any stones.
They also love a bit of wood ash from the fire too, so sprinkle some over them every couple of weeks and water it in, it’s also said to deter pests too.
A little tip I read is to mulch the carrot bed with grass cuttings. For two reasons. Firstly it keeps the tops of the carrot in the dark, this avoids that green head near the foliage. And confuses the carrot fly…
Now here is my biggest foe, the carrot fly. Where do I start? The carrot fly can smell the crushed smell of carrot foliage from about half a mile away! This is what I’ve read, and to be honest I can believe it too!
The female lays her eggs in the soil around the carrots and the babies wiggle into the roots of your little carrot and they begin to munch away.
Often you have no idea they have caused any problems until you pull up what looks to be a huge brilliant looking carrot only to find it riddled with brown holes, it’s gutting.
So how can we stop them?
First of all rotate your crops! They lay their eggs in the soil, so lets keep one step ahead of them.
Secondly if your going to thin out your carrots do it on a still dry evening and that’s the same for pulling them up for dinner!
Thirdly the carrot fly seems to rather rubbish at flying, this could be our only hope! So plant them higher than 18 inches from floor level.
You could also think about covering your crop with some very very fine mesh. But put it over a frame! You don’t want the mesh bashing away at the leaves giving off the scent to tempt them to your door!
They also say surround your crop with onions and garlic. The smells can also distract the fly too!
So there you have it., everything I have learnt about the humble carrot over the 8 years of trying to grow a decent one!
So this year. I’m growing them in a tub that’s 1/2 meter from ground level, I transplanted them into place on a dry and still evening, the soil has been sieved, I’ve have surrounded each carrot with 3 bulbs of garlic, tomorrow I will sprinkle them with wood ash and water it in and the whole thing will be covered with mesh and when I next mow the lawn I will mulch the tub.
Surely this year, I can get a blimming decent carrot!
Happy gardening! X