I don’t think there is anything more satisfying, having carefully preparing the perfect seed bed and selecting the exact variety that is going to do well in your type of soil than spending the long warm sun drenched days of summer knowing that your perfect specimens are safely tucked up in their bed just waiting for you to unearth bright orange, fat, long, sweet roots come autumn time that will see you through the hungry days winter!
Well, that has never quite happened for me but this year things are about to change! Previous success with carrots has been, shall we say, patchy! Luckily we don’t suffer from carrot root fly but we do suffer keeled slugs, small carrots and low germination rates.
Last year in particular was a disastrous year as we lost nearly all our carrots (and parsnips) when we went on holiday for three weeks and came back to the whole plot covered in poppies. Unfortunately we lots pretty much all our seedlings when removing the poppies. Incidentally we think the poppy seeds were in a pack of green manure bought from a garden fair. Three full wheel barrow loads of poppies later we concluded it is always best to know EXACTLY where your seeds come from! Unfortunately all seeds we sowed after that were severely hampered by our bad summer and I think we actually got 3 carrots… yes, that’s 3 carrots out of about 100!!
So this year is THE year of the carrot!
In previous years our carrots were planted into an open bed and as our plot has pretty heavy clay this is not the best environment for success. This year we’re using a 1.0m x 1.2m raised bed filled with our home made compost, sand and fish blood and bone as recommended by the RHS and then a good dose of nematodes will be applied in a month or so. Our prize specimens will also be covered in mesh and hoops.
The aim is to produce a consistent supply of carrots throughout the year as well as enough to store for winter consumption. The chosen few are Purple Haze, Eskimo, Early Nantes and Autumn King.
I’ll be planting the Early Nantes this weekend as well as some parsnips so stay tuned!