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Spud Grubber's Blog

Guy Barter

  • Date Joined: 15 Jan 2007

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Roots rooting

Posted by Guy Barter on 20 Apr 2009 at 03:08 PM

Getting crops established in the most demanding but also the most interesting time of year for allotment holders.  This year (so far) has been brilliant, especially compared to the wet and chill of last spring.

Carrots are up and growing well.  Many years re-sowing is needed, and in fact I once had to sow six times before the crop was properly established, by which time it was July and the crop’s yield potential severely reduced.  Early finger carrots, ‘Amsterdam Forcing 3’, are now very well developed and the next sowings of ‘St Valary’ and ‘Campestra’ have emerged.  The former has emerged rather patchily suggesting poor quality seed, an all too common occurrence with non-commercial cultivars where seed production is less stringent than is ideal.  If the gaps are serious I usually just dib in a few seeds of beetroot to fill in the gaps.  Unlike other crops, carrots do not transplant well.  Having said that, another allotment holder transplanted his carrots last year and they did quite well.  Whether this was ignorance on his part or whether this is common practice in his native India I cannot now ask him as he has left the district. 

The third sowing, of carrot ‘Nairobi’, is in the soil but has yet to emerge.  Four more packets of ‘Ingot’, ‘Jeanette’, ‘Supreme Chantenay Red Cored, and ‘New Red Intermediate’ were sown this weekend.  By sowing at intervals the slow and very tedious process of weeding and thinning can be done before damage occurs to the crop or indeed to my back.

The risk of carrot crop failure is now very low, but the fleece covering will remain to exclude carrot fly that is on the wing round about the time cow parsley flowers.  The local cow parsley is in bud.

The parsnips also appear to be up and growing.  ‘Appear’ because it is such a nuisance to lift and replace the fleece, that I just have a few peeks under the sides here and there.  Again any gaps will be filled with beetroot.  There is still, just, time to make a final parsnip sowing in the event of failure, but this seems unlikely to be necessary this year.

The early beetroot sown as an intercrop between where the Brussels sprouts will eventually be planted have emerged very well and will also need thinning – a much easier process than thinning carrots as it can largely be done with the hoe rather than fingers.  This is because ‘monogerm’ seed is used where each seed makes one plant instead of the clump of seedlings produced by normal beetroot seed.

Maincrop long-rooted beetroot ‘Cheltenham Green Top’, also of the monogerm persuasion, for next winter have been sown, but not too many.  There will be opportunities to sow plenty of quick-growing round beetroot as late summer catch crops to be gathered as autumn and winter ‘baby beet’ and this is a more efficient use of land.  The row was finished off with a couple of metres of scorzonera.  Scorzonera is a pleasant enough veg but two metres will yield quite enough.  Deer love beetroot leaves and pigeons relish scorzonera foliage  so this row will have to be defended all summer – some old fleece with a few holes and tears will do the trick.


pam3482 said:

I am also having difficulty with germination of carrots. I thought that carrots did not transplant well but seem to remember someone suggesting sowing them in a piece of guttering and then sliding the whole lot into a drill in the garden. Do you think this would work or am I imaging it?

on 26 Apr 2009 at 07:55 PM

Guy Barter said:

I am not so sure about guttering but the Rosemoor veg gardeners, afflicted with heavy clay, start off bunching carrots that produce finger sized roots, in small pots of multipurpose media and plant the pot containing several carrot plants out before the roots get congested.  I have tried this and it works very well.

on 27 Apr 2009 at 11:52 AM