Growing carrots

August-Wk-4-BabyCarrot

Carrots are some of Yates top-selling seed lines. That’s not really surprising because they taste so good when they’re freshly harvested it’s a treat to grow your own. And carrots are very easy to grow from seed if you follow a few simple principles.

Carrot seed is quite small so it’s often recommended to mix it with a small amount of clean sand so that the seed can be spread more evenly. Maintaining good contact between the seed and the moisture-bearing soil is critically important. One suggestion is, after sowing and gently watering, to rake soil up into a 2cm to 5cm high ridge over the seed. Then, after a week, carefully rake away the extra soil.

Another idea, which is added as a handy hint on most of the Yates carrot seed packets, is to lay a plank over the row after sowing. Begin lifting the plank after about a week to check for germination and remove it as soon as the seedlings start to appear. When they’re a few weeks old, pull out and discard crowded seedlings to leave room for the others to develop. As they grow even bigger, more seedlings can be removed. These will probably be large enough to use as mini vegetables or for adding to salads.

Grow carrots in a sunny spot with well drained soil. If the soil is hard or lumpy it will cause the carrots to develop deformed, multiple roots. These can be fun as curiosities but are difficult to clean and cook. Ideally, choose a bed that has been enriched to grow a previous crop. Add a little bit of Yates Blood & Bone before sowing, making sure it’s well mixed with the soil. If drainage is questionable (i.e. if the soil holds moisture for a long time after rain) it’s best to build a raised up bed that’s well above the natural soil level. If all else fails, grow carrots in tall pots or vertical pipes filled with good quality potting mix.

There are many different carrot varieties. For example, the Yates range includes Topweight, which was named for its leafy top, Majestic Red, Egmont Gold and old favourites such as Early Chantenay and Manchester Table.

Then there are the novelties such as Carrot Baby (pictured), a short grower that makes a good choice for pots and troughs. It’s popular with kids, too, because it doesn’t take long for it to reach harvest stage. Yates Purple Carrot has purple-red skin and sweet orange flesh. Leave the skin on and it will hold its purple colour through the cooking process.

Carrot Manchester Table and Carrot Baby are available in Yates seed tapes. Seed tapes make seed sowing easy, particularly for beginners. The seed is enclosed between two strips of soft paper that will break down readily when moist. Sowing the tape is a simple matter of creating a groove in the damp soil, laying out the tape and breaking it off at the desired length. Cover, tamp down and keep moist. One big advantage of seed tapes is that the seeds are pre-spaced, so there’s much less thinning.

August is a great month for sowing carrots in temperate areas. Where it’s very cold it’s best to wait until spring when the soil is a little warmer.


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