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Start a vegetable garden: grow carrots!

Lisa Garden on 14-11-2017

If you would like to start enjoying fresh vegetables, straight from your garden, then start off by growing carrots. They are very easy to grow and do not need much attention, apart from sporadic watering, once they have started off. There are two main types of carrot, long root or short root and these varieties will be either early or main crop. A very early crop of delicious carrots they may be sown under a tunnel in early March, or in the ground in April. Maincrop carrots can be sown from April to June, and to grow carrots for Christmas dinner you can sow them in August and cover them from October onwards. 


Grow carrots from these five superb varieties

Here are some well-known varieties that will give you a great start to growing carrots:

  • Parmex – good to grow in containers, these are round rooted carrots
  • Mignon – also good for containers, these are baby sized carrots
  • Flyaway – this variety will not suffer from carrot fly and has a sweet juicy taste
  • Autumn King 2 – these are heavy cropping carrots with a great flavour
  • Nantes 3 Tiptop – these are a sweet flavoured carrot without a core


What kind of soil do I need to grow carrots?

Growing carrots in a clay, chalky or stony soil will not work, so in this case, you would be better off growing carrots in a large container. Carrots like a well-drained, crumbly soil, so it is important to turn it over well before planting and add an all-purpose fertiliser a week before sowing seeds.


Growing carrots from seed will see mature carrots in 12 – 16 weeks

Once the soil is ready for planting you can make shallow drills about an inch deep and thinly sow the carrot seeds. If this proves problematic then mix the seed with a handful of sand and sow them together, the sand will also add drainage to the soil. Lightly cover the sown seeds and water well. Carrots need regular watering until they become established, then the typical UK weather should take care of them. Once you can see some leaves, thin the carrots to 2 inches between the plants as carrots do not like to be crowded. The small carrots that you remove will be delicious eaten in a salad.


Protect growing carrots from the dreaded carrot fly

Whilst your carrots are growing they will be susceptible to carrot fly. As these insects are low flying you can protect them by surrounding them with a windbreak-style barrier. Any work in your carrot patch should be carried out in the evening, or on a still day, as the carrot fly is attracted to the growing plants by their crushed foliage. Visit your local garden centre to see a wide range of vegetable seeds to get inspiration to try and grow some other kinds of vegetables too. Containers, fertilisers and lots of growing advice can all be found at garden centres from people with lots of knowledge and growing experience.