Grow Your Own: Carrots
Wonky or not. Grow Carrots. The taste of homegrown is like no other (and I say this about all homegrown crops). Grow them in pots, tubs, raised beds, gardens and allotments. As long as they have the depth required for that particular variety in the growing area provided, you will get a crop. When growing direct to the ground, if the soil shows signs that is has more clay particles then sand or silt, basically clay soil. Then the likelihood of wonky carrots (or any other root crop) is greater.
But nonetheless wonky veg (although some can be of humorous shapes), are edible.
2 important aspects to remember in order to grow pest free carrots:
Soil Structure and Timing
Soil Structure: Farm manure, on one hand is good for helping clay soil break down over the winter months. But on the other hand, also not good for growing carrots on. It is too rich a soil structure. Instead when prepping the area 2 weeks prior to sowing the carrot seeds; incorporate well rotted compost. This addition of compost not only invites the micro organisms to come up to feed on the compost to help break it down further but also (by this ‘travel’ movement of worms and micro organisms) helps open up the soil too.
Timing: If you sow Carrot seeds during spring (March -Mid May) just as the soil is warming up, this is the same time many insects and pests are waking up from hibernation too. Here in particular, the carrot root larvae emerges as the carrot root fly, as they are attracted by the aroma of the the Carrot seedlings. You only have to brush past the fronds of carrot leaves to know how pungent the Carrot aroma is.
So to avoid contact with plants, enclose or cloche the carrot area with enviro-mesh or similar. It does not need to be a tall structure, as these flies do not fly very high; as well as interplant the rows of Carrots with rows of Spring Onion and Flowers like Marigold or Tagetes. The aroma of these companion plants help distract the fly.
A later sowing around June helps too. As these cool temperate loving Flies appear in Spring (and again in late Summer and early Autumn). The advantage of sowing Carrot seeds in early Summer, means the Carrots have establish and are pretty much ready to harvest as the cooler climbs of autumn sets in. The other advantage of this is, there is succession growth, whilst the spring sowing comes to an end in Summer, the Summer sowing takes you into autumn and early winter.
Whether starting them in spring or early summer it is important to remember these flies are most active during the day. So avoid the jobs of thinning out or watering during the day. The movement in plants only attracts them further. These jobs are best performed in the evenings.
These are some of my favourite varieties to grow:
Touchon , D’Eysinesn, Nante 2 , Autumn King and Paris Market . With the last variety being a wonderful small, almost round sized carrots. It is a very popular variety to introduce to children who are learning to grow their own vegetables, as these can also be grown in small pots too, when short of growing space.
As for enjoying the harvest, a cake bake is always in line with some of the harvest.
Do share your favourite Carrot varieties to grow, in the comments below.