Long and Short Carrots - Re-constructing the Beds
19th Mar 1997
This coming weekend I shall be at it sowing my long carrots, with the short ones, or the other than long ones, going in around the end of April. I have always had success with long carrots for more years than I care to remember and for most of those years they were grown in steel drums on a bed of sand. This year though everything has changed, mainly because the 36 drums that I had were rusting away badly and with no other source of this particular type available I reconstructed the whole area.
The shape of the re construction was there by way of the brick beds supporting the drums, all I had to do therefore was to build up on top of these bricks with 18" x 9" x 4" concrete blocks. What did amaze me was the quantity of extra sand that was required to fill up the same size bed as before. There are three beds joined together measuring 28 ft by three foot 6 inside measurements and these will give me around 150 long carrots to chose from. The beds were completed before Christmas and the sand has now had plenty of time to settle down prior to boring the holes. The beds will still be covered over with the same timber structure as last time which has sliding glass panes which allows the plants to get away to an early start without any check to growth.
Last year could have been my best year ever with long carrots because they were very long having a bright red colour but they lacked weight. This came about because the crop was devastated by powdery mildew which I have never seen on carrots before in all my years of growing them. By the time it had dawned on me I had a real problem, the disease had taken hold and the foliage was turning white and looking distinctly as if it had finished growing.
I sprayed them as soon as I could with a fungicide but by the time I was able to control it's spread they had stopped growing at their normal rate and were merely ticking over in the compost. This year I shall therefore keep a very sharp eye out for this disease, the same one that I"ve had for years on peas and is well known as a major problem with them particularly towards the end of the season.
Over the years I have used a variety of mixes with a peat based one comparing just as fairly as a mix with soil added to it. Last year my mix for carrots contained soil and was based on, 1 soil, 1 Levington F1, ½ of concreting or coarse sand and ½ of vermiculite. This year I intend to use horticultural sand as well as fine grade vermiculite to which I shall add 2 ounces Superphosphate, 2 ounces sulphate of potash, 2 ounces calcified seaweed and two ounces of carbonate of lime. Naturally the soil and the peat will be passed through a ¼" sieve to ensure that there are no hard lumps in the mix to prevent the carrot from developing to it's full potential.
The above modified mixture will be added to two of the beds whilst the bore holes in the third bed will be filled up with the mixture that Bob Herbert from Mossbrough Sheffield uses with a great deal of success and consists of the following mixture = 2 x 2 gallon buckets of Spagnum moss peat, 1 x 2 gallon buckets of washed concreting sand to make 6 gallons by bulk. To this bulk the following nutrients are added = 3 ounces Superphosphate, 3 ounces Sulphate of Potash, 2 ounces fine grade calcified seaweed, 2 ounces of Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) and 2 ounces carbonate of lime. The whole of the material prior to being mixed is passed through an eighth of an inch sieve so you can see that Bobs' mixture is very fine indeed. The above mixture is also used by Bob to grow his other than long carrots.
I called to see him a few weeks ago during early February and even as early as that his drums and raised beds had all been filled up ready for sowing, even those on his allotment were all filled up. Bob must have the equivalent to about three plots on the allotment on top of his own garden and the whole lot was a credit to him. He takes particular pride in the brassicas with hundreds of top quality Cauliflowers being grown on beautifully rich ground that makes Bob very hard to beat at the top shows in September.