Not quitting while I’m ahead

Last year all I wanted to do was grow a carrot. They were my nemesis, my achilles heal, the thorn in my side.

I didn’t need a show carrot.. nor a supermarket sized carrot. I just wanted a simple carrot of perhaps gratable size. Well let’s face it, my previous attempts had been so pathetic I’d have been happy with any size carrot that semi resembled the apparent ‘super easy to grow’ specimens that graced the covers of various seed packets like unobtainable orange cover girls.

Red Carrots

As luck would have it I ended the year on a high..I actually succeeded and I could not have been more chuffed! I’d earned my stripes.

With my new found confidence I approached this years crop with gusto! I bought some seeds, St Valery, Purple Sun, Lisse de Meaux and Giant Red, chose a growing spot and set too.

Carrot trough

A chance encounter with the allotment secretary resulted in an upcycling opportunity for an old water butt so I set myself the challenge of growing the longest, straightest carrot the allotments have ever seen! (I’ve checked the silverware cabinet and there has never been such a prize so I could be onto a winner!).

I popped some stones in the bottom of the trough for drainage and set too with some seeds. I also planted a few quick growing radishes and covered the whole thing in fleece.

And here’s what they currently look like from a 2nd April sowing!

carrots

I must confess that back in May I actually lost more than 50% of my carrots to squirrels so this is my current barricade against the crafty little buggers consisting of chicken wire and hoops!

carrot cage

Before I sign off I’ll share what I learnt from last year:

  • Carrots need soil they can push through and send down a tap root. It needs to be fairly crumbly and light in texture so adding some sand is a good thing
  • Any stone or lump of soil will cause a fork
  • Slugs love to hover up the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th….. millimeter of green shoot so if your sowings haven’t appeared it may be duff seed or most likely these conniving molluscs
  • It could however also be the weather and a light covering of fleece for a few weeks helps with both slug and weather damage until the seedlings are established
  • Squirrels devour anything they can lay their furry paws on at the end of the season. If they’re not depositing nuts and someone elses flower bulbs all over the beds they’re eating the last of the carrots so keep them covered. This also helps with carrot fly if you suffer from that
  • If at first you don’t succeed, get straight back on your carrot bike, buy new seeds of different varieties and get them in the ground!
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