Carrots - Stump Rooted or "Other than Long"
25th Jul 2002
My short carrots or carrots other than long are looking particularly good this year, and without tempting fate too much, I will be surprised if I don't pick up a card with them at some show or other. Lets clear one thing up, what sort of carrot are we looking at here and what sort of shape. If you look at the two books that govern the judging of vegetables i.e. the Royal Horticultural Society Show Handbook and the National Vegetable Society Judges Guide, they are both different.
RHS or NVS
The RHS book calls the short carrot 'Carrots, other than long" whilst the NVS defines them as 'Carrots - Stump Rooted' so what is the difference? Hardly any apart from a play on words really, the important thing though is the fact that whichever show you are at, the carrots must end with a decided stump. In other words you should be down pointed by the judge if you show a set of carrots with a pointed end rather than a stump end.
With short carrots or carrots other than long, it's important to remember that the stump end is the very last part of the carrots development as it matures. It is therefore important to allow sufficient time for this to develop properly by adjusting your sowing dates accordingly. My own selection of the Favourite type carrot which is around six inches in length is an early developer and will nearly always have an excellent stump end.
Gringo needs to be sown about mid April if you need it to be fully mature from mid August onwards, whilst my own Stump variety will be ready from an early May sowing. As the stump ended carrots are starting to fill out they will act differently to the long varieties as they have a tendency to push themselves out of the compost. Alternatively a good quality long carrot will always pull itself downwards. From my experience if you see a long carrot with it's shoulders sticking out above the compost it's probably forked or badly bent.
The stump carrots shoulders should always be a lovely fresh orange colour with no hint of any greening whatsoever. The greening on the shoulder is nothing more than lack of attention by the grower as it is purely a cultural fault and therefore avoidable. When I judge stump ended carrots I am very hard on any set of carrots that show a hint of this greening so care has to be taken during the growing season to prevent it from happening. There's no doubt that because the favourite type carrot is so short, bulky and stumpy it nearly always needs more care than the Nantes type such as Gringo.
There are really three ways of preventing this from happening, the first is right in the very beginning when you are filling the bore holes with compost. I always stop short of the top of the hole by an inch or so leaving a shallow depression. During the course of the season this will gradually close up as the rain and watering washes in the sides of the bore hole thereby helping to give added cover over the shoulders. The second method is to pull sand from in between the carrot stations over the crown of the carrot. Initially this is fine but as the carrot shoulder is growing and developing and as you water them regularly, the covering eventually gets washed back from where it came defeating the whole object.
My preference has been to carry out a belt and braces job by first not filling the bore hole right up to the top and secondly to place plastic rings over the top of the carrot. These rings in my case are six inches in diameter and an inch wide and were sawn from 18 inches lengths of plastic piping that I had left over many years ago when I used to collar my blanch leeks with them. These are stored over winter in and empty dustbin and will last a lifetime, you can of course make them from a four inch diameter pipe as well.