Garden Clippings for May 16, 2020
We’ve moved. Moved from the farm to the city. From 75 acres to a smaller city lot. From a 2-story family home to a bungalow. From a mature 20-plus year-old landscape to a garden where the only descent tree is a solo White Pine.
Best of all, we’ve moved from clay soil to sandy soil. We will be able to grow carrots.
Clay based soil has its benefits. Trees grow faster and better in clay. Moisture and nutrients remain in the soil longer, and grass is greener in clay soil. But growing carrots is a challenge.
It is not impossible to grow carrots in clay soil, but those skinny foot-long carrots need to be left to the imagination. Instead, ‘Chatenay Red’ and ‘Nantes Coreless’ growing to about 6 inches long, are better choices.
‘Baby Finger,’ growing to only 4 inches long is an early, tender and sweet carrot growing only to 4 inches long. These carrots resemble the small remanufactured carrots available in small cello bags in the produce aisle. Yes, those small carrots are actually big carrots cut up into smaller pieces.
Growing carrots in sandy soil will be a treat. Carrots love rich soil, so adding compost, manure and organic matter to the existing soil will pay off with longer, healthier carrots.
Carrot seeds are tiny. Prepare the seed bed carefully and rake the soil to make it level, weed free and clump free. Sow seeds anytime after the 15th of May. Create a tiny furrow in the soil and do your best to space seeds about half inch apart. To make sowing easier, put them in an envelope, make a small hole in the envelope and tap lightly.
Once seeds are sown, add a very thin layer of soil and water well. Make sure the seed bed does not dry out longer than a day or two. Carrots take their time to sprout and you can expect to wait up to three weeks before you see seeds sprout.
When seeds have finally sprouted and are an inch or two high, carefully dig them up and prepare the soil again, getting rid of weeds, breaking the clumps and adding more compost if available. Create another furrow in the soil and take time to replant the seedlings 2-3 inches apart. Cover with soil and water well.
Do your best to keep weeds away from the growing carrots because weeds will rob the soil of valuable nutrients. It won’t be necessary to add fertilizer while carrots are growing. Like all root crops, high nitrogen levels may cause tops to grow at the expense of roots.
Carrots love moisture and setting out the sprinkler during dry spells will reward you with sweeter, richer flavour.
Carrots need 60 to 75 days from seeding to harvest time. For a consistent supply, sow new seeds every 3 to 4 weeks. Sow new seeds in mid-August for a late fall crop.
‘Nantes Coreless’ and ‘Chantenay Red’ are good variety choices for both clay and sandy soils. ‘Denvers Half Long’ is similar, growing to about 6 inches with blunt rounded ends. For longer, thinner carrots with pointed tips, look for “Imperator’ or ‘Triton.’
For a fun treat, plant ‘Rainbow Blend’ for a variety of colours. ‘Solar Yellow’ has blond flesh with buttery, sweet and juicy flesh. ‘Parisian’ is a bright orange carrot with a shape resembling radishes. ‘Parisian’ grows well in poor soil and is a good choice for growing in containers on the patio.