Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Carrots - a real success story!

My experience with growing carrots has hitherto not been crowned with glory. Most often the Carrot Root Fly did so much damage that the crop was very sparse. So much so that I gave up growing carrots altogether. Even when I covered them with Enviromesh they didn't do very well. I felt that the mesh prevented enough light getting to the veg underneath, and it was hard to apply the correct amount of water. And then I won a tall wooden planter, and my fortunes changed.

The planter enables me to grow carrots about three feet above ground level, thus avoiding the worst of the low-flying flies. It's not 100% effective, but still much better than anything else I have tried. I sow the carrot seeds into black plastic crates, two of which which fit neatly into the planter. This means that I can replace them whenever I need to. Last year I over-wintered the Strawberries in it. 

I started growing carrots this way 3 years ago. The first year I had modest success (I considered that anything was better than nothing); last year the crop was poor because of the dull wet conditions during Summer, but this year it has all come good. I sowed three different types of carrot seed, all miniature / fast-growing types rather than maincrop ones, simply because space is so limited. I chose "Mini Finger", "Mignon" and "Amsterdam III Sprint". One of the boxes had just Mignon, but the other box had a mix of the other two types.

"Mignon" produced a very small amount of foliage and I though it wasn't doing very well, but when I pulled the first one to see what they were like I was pleasantly surprised. There was a lovely crop of short plump carrots:

They were also the first to mature. Sown on 29th March and first ones harvested on 13th July.

In retrospect I realise that the ones I labelled in a previous post"Amsterdam III Sprint" were more likely "Mini Finger". They are very long and slender. (Like a pianist's fingers maybe!)

"Mini Finger"

Now I have harvested the first carrots of the third variety, which I'm pretty sure is "Amsterdam III Sprint" (Yes, I know I have said that before...)

"Amsterdam III Sprint"

 These ones are the biggest of the three types - almost big enough to be a maincrop type. Again, I was surprised to see how big they were: from above they don't look much, when when they come out of the ground they are bigger than I had dared to hope.

As my photos demonstrate, the carrots have all been well-nigh perfect. There have been literally a couple with a bit of fly damage, but not enough to be significant. I seriously believe that my success with these carrots is due to their elevation. They were not protected in any other way, and they were grown in perfectly normal proprietary compost. I think that the weather may have played a part (it usually does). Perhaps the very cold conditions in the Spring meant a late arrival for the flies, and the warm sunny weather during July helped the carrots to grow strongly and get big. Whatever the reason, I consider this year's carrot crop to have been a huge success.


  1. Brilliant. We have our best carrots this year too - also no sign of the pesky fly damage so far, which usually hits ours, although they are in the ground as ever, and spring onions are our only form of defence. It's either the spring onions or the weather, or a combination of both for us - we're grateful either way!

  2. I have carrot envy! I've always been successful at growing them in my sandy soil, until the last couple of years when root knot nematodes appeared. I may have to resort to container grown carrots eventually.

    1. It would be interesting to see what root knot eelworm looks like on carrots Gran. Are there any pictured on your blog?

    2. Roger, the carrots just come out all stunted, twisted, forked and bumpy. I did a post about them here: http://tinyurl.com/mkxmhz5

      The carrots shown were all in the same bed. On one side grew perfectly, the other side completely infected.

  3. You are ingenious Mark!
    You must have washed your lovely carrots for the photos. Actually I would like to see a bit of soil on the odd one, just for personal curiosity!

  4. Beautiful. I have really bad problems with carrot fly in my fall crops. The spring crops I try to pull out early enough to avoid the flies. Sometimes it works sometimes not. The fall crops here I have to cover. Sadly I have no way to lift them up.

  5. Those carrots are just beautiful! Maybe that is what I need to try to get a better carrot harvest than I've been getting lately.

  6. I've been reading about the activities on your plot Mark, and I must say your produce look fantastic. My concern is that the vegetables on my plot seem to be growing at a rather slow rate! I wonder what I did wrong and if you can help.

  7. It's strange that you think the enviromesh affected your carrotgrowth Mark as we have been growing carrots under enviromesh for years and it works for us.

  8. Oh lucky you! Your carrots look great. There's nothing nicer than a truly fresh carrot.

  9. Fab looking carrots. I also think growing carrots in a raised bed or container is the way to go.


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