Tuesday, 21 June 2016

24 Carrots All Told

I'm a great believer in the principal of "you should grow what you eat". Indeed quite a few years ago I wrote to Derek Cooper of  The Food Programme fame espousing this along with a few other principles like grow what the supermarkets won't stock because they don't have a shelf life and so on. The venerable broadcaster even rang me to ask permission to quote me in an article he was writing for the BBC Good Food magazine. Such dizzy heights.  Well in accordance with my creed I have year on year tried to grow our all year round staple food: carrots - without any real success. The fly in the allotment (see what I did there?) is the carrot fly.  Without any measures to fight off this tunneller the grower is set for disappointment at harvest time - especially in an allotment site where carrots will have been grown by somebody every year for about 100 years. Protection is either a barrier over 2 feet high or fine mesh plastic netting. So at some considerable expense I invested in some environmesh and set up "tents" to grow carrots under.  I do seem to remember one or two successes, but the problem with tents is that what is out of sight is out of mind. Thi laissez faire tendancy is also encouraged by the oft repeated warning that the pesky fly is just waiting for you to lift the covers in order to mount a raid on its prey. So generally what happens is 

a. You sow you carrots and cover them
b. You leave the contents of the tent to its own device
c. Belatedly you lift the tent after what carrots there are have been smothered by the weeds
d. You eat the carrot crop in one meal and declare them the best tasting carrots ever, then promise to do better next year
e. You do the same again next year.

Well this year my vigilance has been redoubled. I am wary of having marquees instead of tents because the larger the soil area the more of a chance of a stray fly emerging from within, So I set up twin tents.  (I also set up a tent at home with a whole raised bed to itself)

Carrot Tents 2016
Today I lifted the covers for some high speed weeding, well before the weeds took over. But alas alack the germination rate of the carrots across all varieties has been appalling.  The story is the same at home. 

Lifting the covers
 My quandary now is whether to resow the gaps or scrap the whole carrot protection project. At least that would give me room to plant out the leeks which are short of an allocated space this year.
Look - A Carrot!!!
Most likely I will resow one tent with any seed I have got left over and remove the poorer tent and give the patch over to leeks.

Now next year.....

Later sowing, incorporate sand, keep a closer eye on things, ...?


  1. Do you think slugs had the newly germinated carrots which happened to us last year.
    To combat weeds we sow in channels in through weed control fabric in shallow trenches of compost. Last year we sowed a second lot and just draped the mesh over and had less slug damage which may have bed a coincidence but this year we have done the same thing. I wondered if the slugs aren't as happy to slither under the mesh touching the ground. Any necessary weeding is done by just uncovering a small part at a time. I'll,maybe post on it later.

    1. Your sagacious advice always appreciated, Sue.

  2. I use Enviromesh to protect Carrots too, but mine covers a tall raised bed, in which slug problems are minimal, and weeding is easier. I had poor germination rates with carrots this year too, if that is any comfort to you!

    1. Yes, thanks Mark. Better for getting it off my chest. Your set up matches mine at home - with the same results.