Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Sowing and protecting Carrots

This year I SHALL have good carrots! Well, even if I don't, it won't be for want of trying. For the last two or three years I have grown miniature (aka "finger") carrots, in some plastic boxes raised up above ground level in a wooden planter in order to escape the ravages of Carrot Root Fly. This method has worked well, and has given me a decent crop of baby carrots:

"Amsterdam 3 - Sprint" (August 2013)
Baby Carrots are all very well, but I want Maincrop Carrots too! I know from previous attempts that growing carrots without proper protection is doomed to failure. They would just be be riddled with flies and unuseable. So this year I am going all-out for "proper protection".

So the maincrop carrots are going to be grown in my premier raised bed - the big Woodblocx one. They will share it with some parsnips. This bed now has a good depth of soil consisting primarily of home-made compost, but since it is going to play host to the carrots, I  have added a bit of sand to improve the drainage:

I dug-over the bed with a hand-trowel, removing any twigs or other debris I could see, and then raked it "to a fine tilth" as they say - in other words until all the lumps were broken down. Conditions seemed perfect for sowing. The soil was damp but not wet, and seemed quite warm to the touch.

I made a wide (6 inches / 15cm) drill and sowed in it three varieties of carrot: "Early Nantes", "St.Valery" and "Autumn King". I sowed fairly thickly, in the full knowledge that if germination is good thinning will be required. Next to the carrots I sowed two types of parsnip in a similar wide drill. They are "Duchess" and "Guernsey Half Long". Separating the two types of vegetable I sowed a single line of "Cherry Belle" Radishes.

After sowing the seeds I erected the protection. First I pushed in six aluminium tubes from my "Build-a-Ball" kit, and then slotted into them three flexible plastic hoops:

Then over the top of the hoops went that large piece of Enviromesh that I bought the other day. It is way too big for this present configuration, but I deliberately got a piece that will allow for a taller configuration if I decide to grow something like Brassicas. The excess mesh was rolled up and secured at ground level with a number of bricks.

So now I just have to wait... Hopefully this setup will exclude foxes as well as Carrot Root Flies.


  1. Good luck, I'm sticking to growing mine in tubs. I am trying some of the coloured varieties this year for a bit of fun. Your bed looks to be very well protected.

  2. You did it all right, Mark. I expect to see some lovely carrots from your garden in a few months. I haven't sown outside anything but peas.

  3. I grow my carrots under a row cover too. And for the same reason. Well not the fox, but the flies. I can often get away with not covering the spring carrots if the carrots grow quickly, but if I want to pick them as late as mid July I've got to cover them. I hope they do well for you.

  4. Very tidy and well done. I hope it workks for you!

  5. Fingers crossed that it works. I'm going to have to resort to similar measures now that I no longer have the old bath to grow my carrots in.

  6. I'll keep posted to see how they do! Inevitable, I get too eager and pull them up when too small. Any good hints to know exactly when to pull?

    1. I just feel around in the ground and judge the size - maybe pull one up to see. You can normally guage the size of a carrot by looking at its diameter at the shoulders, which often stick up above soil level.

  7. We are still digging fresh carrots but no doubt soon this will come to an end as they will start to regrow.

    If you can don;t take the environmesh off unless you absolutely have to. I stick my head under it if I need to do any undercover work.

  8. Good luck with your carrots. We have been lucky with main crop carrots in general, but like you, we make sure we do everything we can to protect them. Autumn King is my favourite variety.

  9. A good lesson for me. Thanks. I've never success on growing carrot, maybe too hot or a bad drainage.

  10. Gosh that all looks so good, and practical. I've been considering raised beds, but am sticking to my old fashioned digging for the moment. I have no trouble with carrots, although those that are still in the ground are now suffering from slug damage, and will go to the horses.

  11. What a great idea! I have an acre and a half to garden on and I still can't get a useable carrot. Not a single one. Come spring that is going to be my focus, a carrot that is worth digging up.

  12. Oh you know how to impress a mere novice Mark ;D
    The raised bed looks brilliant and something I aspire to...are you free anytime this year?
    Good luck with the carrots...I'm sure they'll be a success with so much effort going into the preparation.


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