CARROTS (Daucus carotus)
The wild carrot is a native of England and of Southern Europe, and there should be no difficulty in growing carrots in most parts of Britain. For ordinary cultivation, carrots are sown outdoors in March, in drills drawn about an inch deep and 6 in. apart, across the vegetable garden. Carrot seed must only be sown on a warm dry day, not when theis sticky, and it is best to cover it with light sandy soil. The usual method, however, is to rake the surface lightly after sowing, so that the seed is just covered. Earlier sowings can be made in frames under glass.
Frequent hoeing during the summer, and regular thinning so that eventually the carrots are spaced from 6-12 in. apart is advisable. When hoeing has been done during the early part of the summer, it is advisable to tread along the sides of the row of plants. This presses the soil firmly round the necks of the plants and prevents green shoulders to the roots. It also helps to prevent attacks of the Carrot Fly.
Carrots should be lifted in September or early October, the leaves cut oJ I in. from the roots, and the crop stored in dry sand or soil in a cool frost-proof shed.
Carrots can be easily forced on a hot bed, the soil of which should be old potting soil, with leaf-mould, light sandy loam, wood ashes, and sharp sand and a little complete fertilizer. This material is passed through a 1/2 in. mesh sieve, and carrots sown on it, over a hotbed, grow rapidly.
For exhibition, carrots should be perfect in outline, deep in colour and quite free from any blemishes. If the soil is at all heavy, and in all cases for exhibition carrots, the system of boring holes should be adopted. Holes are made with a dibber or crow-bar in the soil in rows about a foot apart with 16 in. between the rows. Each of the holes is rilled with especially prepared, which has been sifted through a J in. mesh sieve. Two or three seeds are sown on each prepared site and when the show up they are reduced to one at each station. Very shapely roots can be grown in this way.
The chief trouble in growing carrots is from the Carrot Fly, which appears in May. It lays eggs which hatch out and cause disfigurement of the roots. A dusting of lime and soot along the rows during the warm days of May will keep the fly away and avoid trouble.
Good varieties for the amateur’s garden are: For frame culture “Early Nantes” and “French Horn”; for main crops, “Early Market,” “Scarlet Gem” and “Prizewinner.” On sandy soils where long roots can be grown easily, “Long “Red Surrey” and “Altrincham” varieties are suitable.