Carrot is my favourite (and many other people’s favourite) vegetable to grow in the home garden. A carrot is not only delicious, but it is also rich in vitamins. You can obtain it in various varieties with classic long orange roots. Moreover, it’s also available in yellow, red or purple colour.
Carrots need little space to grow. You can even grow it in containers. Wherever you want to plant them, you will find that they are easy to grow and need little looking after.
When it comes to sowing, you can sow them in small batches to get a crop from early summer to throughout the autumn. Ensure to check the variety you are buying, i.e., Early Nantes or Autumn King, as an example. The name gives it away!
The best conditions for carrots to grow are sunny, well-drained and fertile soil. So, always sow the seeds whilst bearing this in mind.
On the other hand, carrots can’t grow well on stony and heavy clay containing soil. So if you have that type of soil, the easy solution is to sow the seeds in containers.
- Sow the early cultivars in February or March.
- Sow the seeds under cloches or similar covering.
- Sow the seeds outdoor from April to July.
- As stated earlier, you can find the cultivar type on the seed packets. Seed packets indicate whether the cultivar is maincrop or early. The best thing to do is to sow both types and get a good carrots supply over a long period.
- Space the seeds 6-12 inches (15 – 30 cm) apart in rows.
- Sow the seeds around half an inch deep and lightly cover them with soil.
- Thin out the seedlings to 2-3 inches apart to give them room to grow. I don’t thin them out that much, as carrots seem to find that extra little bit of wiggle room that they need – and of course, you can thin them out later, whilst sneaking a crop of delicious baby carrots for your salads.
Here is a video by Peter showing how to thin out seedlings , with as least disturbance as possible.
The plants don’t need a lot of water to grow because they are drought resistant. However, you may have to water them in prolonged dry spells by giving them a thoroughly good soaking. Don’t simply wet the soil and hope that will do.
Follow these tips to grow them properly:
· Remove the weeds between rows manually. This step is essential because these weeds may surround the carrots.
· Cover the plants with fleece to keep the carrot flies away. Barriers around the carrots could also help in preventing the carrot flies from laying eggs on the plants.
· Weed or thin out the plants carefully in such a way that foliage doesn’t get damaged. Otherwise, carrot fly may invade the crop.
When it comes to harvesting the carrots, you don’t have to wait much to treat your taste buds. You can harvest the carrots with 12-16 weeks of sowing. So, late spring to autumn is the best time to pick the fresh carrots.
A Carrot fly is a fly with its body black in colour. Its larvae eat the roots of the carrot. The larvae make tunnels to reach the roots of developing carrots and damage them severely.
You can’t get rid of carrot fly once they invaded your carrot crop. So, prevention is clearly the best strategy to avoid the carrot fly attack.
Here’s some preventive measure to avoid carrot fly invasion:
- Sow the seeds thinly at a proper distance.
- Don’t damage the foliage while thinning out the seedlings or picking up the weeds.
- Use a 2ft higher barrier to surround your carrots. Make sure the barriers should be of polythene. These barriers will keep the low-lying female flies away from your plants.
- Use horticulture fleece to cover the plants. Enviromesh is the best horticulture fleece to protect the crop.
- Another method is to confuse the carrot fly. Plant some onions, spring onions or heavily scented herbs amongst your carrots to deter the pesky carrot fly.
Have you noticed greenfly colonies on leaves and soft shoot tips? Well, these are aphids that suck the plant’s sap. Moreover, they also encourage the growth of sooty moulds by secreting sticky honeydew.
You can avoid aphids in two ways:
- Use biocontrol in the greenhouse.
- Squash the aphid colonies with your thumb or finger. It is time-consuming but worth it.
There are almost 50 varieties of carrots. Why not try some unusual ones? Take a look:
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