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Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Carrots GIY Ireland

Perhaps not the easiest of veg for the beginner (particularly if grown in open ground), carrots are difficult to grow well and require a deep, light, stone free, fertile soil to do well.  But if you get the soil right and keep the carrot root fly away, you will be rewarded with a crunchy, sweet and flavoursome crop. Carrots are the classic stockpot vegetable and full of vitamin A. They store well and can be grown effectively in deep containers or pots. Growing them yourself is a way to rediscover a long, lost flavour. 
Sowing
Carrots are best sown direct in the soil as they do not transplant well – there’s really very little point in trying to sow seeds in module trays for later transplanting or for that matter in buying carrot ‘seedlings’.  Never add fresh manure or compost when sowing carrots as it will cause them to fork, and encourage leafy growth.  You can however add well rotted manure or compost the previous autumn to the area where you will grow carrots. 
Dig the bed well during the autumn to make sure there is at least a foot of good friable soil – compacted soil equals stunted carrots.  Carrot seeds are tiny so this is one situation where you will really need to get the seed bed to a “fine tilth” (see tips).
You can sow carrots from mid April (or March under a cloche or in a polytunnel), but I generally wait until late May to sow my main crop of carrots – germination rates are better in warmer soil.  Sow thinly at 2cm deep in rows 20cm apart.  Keep the seed bed moist to encourage germination.  Don’t be alarmed if nothing seems to be happening!  It could take 2-3 weeks.  Thin to 5cm when the seedlings are large enough to handle. Check out our excellent little video on growing carrots at http://www.giyinternational.org/videos/detail/carrots

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