GROWING THE PERFECT CARROTS

Carrots may all be bright orange/red in colour, but with the advent of so many modern varieties one may now grow any number of different shapes. Breeding efforts over recent years have been directed towards removing the woody yellow cores from carrots, which explains the terms ‘red-cored’ and ‘red-cored improved’ attached to varietal names.

VARIETIES

Short-rooted varieties

Golfball round, good on heavy clay land, or finger-long. They are quick-maturing.

‘Amsterdam Forcing’

Cyridrical with a blunt end. Has little core and is excellent for freezing.

‘Early Nantes’

Early, tender and good for freezing.

‘Early French Frame’

A round carrot, up to 5 cm (2 inch) across in diameter.

Intermediate-rooted varieties

These medium-sized carrots are the best all-rounders. The young roots are pulled for intermediate use and the remainder left to mature as main crop for winter storage.

‘Chantenay Red-cored ‘

Thick and stump-rooted, deep orange flesh. A popular carrot variety.

Autumn King’

Extremely hardy; will stay in the soil over winter. Carrot fly finds it less attractive than other varieties.

Nantes Tip-Top’

The 15 cm (6 inch) roots are uniformly cylindrical and core-free.

Long-rooted varieties

These are usually grown for showing in specially-prepared soil.

New Red’

One of the longest carrots.

‘Intermediate

Good storing qualities.

St Valery’

Long, uniform and finely-tapered root

Soil

To ensure unrestricted root development a sandy loam is ideal. Heavy soil will cause ‘fanging’ (splitting) of roots. Apply Growmore at a rate of 100 g/sq.m (3oz/sq.yd).

Sowing

For early pulling, sow broadcast in frames or tunnels in January/February. Sow outdoors in March. Main crops are sown from April-June in rows 15 cm (6 inch) apart in shallow drills 12 – 25 mm (½ – 1 inch) deep.

Routine Work

Hoe between rows to remove weeds; avoid damaging the carrots. Thin seedlings when the first rough leaves appear. Thin again, twice, until the final distance between plants is 5 cm (2 inch) for round varieties, 10 cm (4 inch) for intermediate and long varieties. To minimise the risk of attack from carrot root fly, thin only on dull days. Firm and water the rows thoroughly after thinning.

PESTS AND DISEASES

Pest/Disease

Carrot root fly The cream/white larvae feed on the roots in early summer, causing reddening of the foliage and some stunting of growth.

Delay sowing until late May or June. Sowing thinly will reduce the need to thin later. (Thinning attracts the flies to the smell of the carrots.) Application of bromophos or diazinon granules to the seed drill may give some control. Floating film mechanically excludes the adult carrot flies and stop their egg-laying.

Willow carrot aphid Crop attacked by aphid. Spray with an approved insecticide.

Violet root rot Crop shows no sign of attack until October/November. The tips of the foliage turn yellow, and wilting may occur. Eventually the leaves die. When the roots are lifted, a felt-like mass of violet or purple fungal growth can be seen. No chemical treatments are effective. Maintain adequate fertiliser levels and ensure the site is well drained.

Harvesting and Storage

Pull the early sowings as required as soon as they are large enough for eating. The roots for storage should be lifted in October with a fork. Be careful not to bruise the roots, and reject diseased and pest-infested roots. Store in boxes of either sand or soil in a frost-proof shed. Alternatively, they can be stored in a clamp.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.