Saturday, May 28, 2011


I am yet to grow a really flash crop of carrots at home. They grow and they're edible but look pretty unimpressive and are always a bit on the small side. I persist because the kids love carrots and delight in pulling a bright orange treat from the earth. Mostly my problem is our clay soil (well I don't want to blame my gardening skills) which I am gradually improving but lacks the depth to grow a good carrot.

I spent forever preparing a bed for this years crop, finding all the stones, clay clods, charcoal bits, oxalis bulbs and breaking up the soil to a fine tilth. I didn't add manure to avoid the problem of the carrots forking. The kids helped me plant out the tiny seeds tediously spacing them according to the seed packet and then we experimented with the walking over the seeds technique on some rows and leaving the carrots alone on other rows. The idea of walking on the freshly planted seed is that you get better contact of the seed with the soil which helps retain moisture as the seeds germinate. It also pushes down the soil you have lovingly fluffed up and leaves your carrots in a depressed row which looks very wrong.

Then I waited and waited and watered and waited until a mad flush of green emerged. Unfortunately most of that mad flush was grass and smoke weed which looks deceptively like a carrot in its early stages. The rows that were trodden on definately won the germination competition, with only a handful of carrots to be found in the rows without the trample treatment. Unfortunately not a great strike rate - maybe the unseasonably super cold weather put a pox on all my efforts. I have scattered some more carrot seed over the soil from a carrot that has seeded in the garden but I fear the garden folklore of only planting carrots in the months with an r in it might be true. As a bonus I got a few coriander and lettuce seedlings that germinated so I have transplanted those.

Today, due to my sowing failures, I cheated and planted some carrots from a punnet, the quantity of plants was much stingier than I expected - only a dozen carrots in a punnet. Not a great economical choice as I could buy 3kg of carrots for the same price as a punnet of seedlings and I am not confident I will produce any more than that from my punnet. Transplanting carrots is also supposed to be pretty iffy as the roots don't like to be disturbed. I have filled in the gaps where the carrots did not fare so well and I will be interested in experiment 2, which carrot fares better - those sown from seeds or those from seedlings......

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm, no carrots here this season either, unfortunately. They would have to be one of the trickiest crops to grow, at least for us. It will be interesting to see how the punnet variety compares to the trampled ones - love a good experiment!

    I have seen somewhere homemade carrot paper...carrot seeds stuck individually and evenly spaced onto paper towel so that at planting time the whole sheet of towel is placed in/on the ground. It sounds a bit tedious but would certainly be more comfy than thinning them by crouching down on the ground....


In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
Margaret Atwood

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young