I have been growing carrots for 4 years and have yet to have what I would consider a good harvest.
This year, several issues were at play.
Secondly, I was very late sowing the seeds. Almost two months late to be exact. I didn’t get around to sowing them until the end of June.
Then, as I was in a rush, I didn’t use Granny’s seed mat method but just sprinkled the seed in each row. This meant a mountain of tedious thinning which, not surprisingly, I left for far too long. I’ve read that improper thinning can lead to not only smaller carrots, but can also result in them taking longer to mature.
|Unthinned carrot bed in mid-August|
The end result was that the carrots took forever to size up and a big chunk of them never made it to a good size at all, even though I left them in the ground until early November. In fact, over half of the harvest was separated out as "baby carrots", which were cleaned & put into the fridge for snacking.
I grew 6 varieties of carrots this year. Two varieties I had grown before - Scarlet Nantes & Chantenay Red Core - and 4 were new - Sprint, Amsterdam Maxi, Mokum and Napoli.
For comparison, I took a photo of each variety, separating out the babies from the regular sized carrots.
|Chantenay Red Core|
I did do a taste test on all of the carrots and they all tasted good, with only subtle differences in sweetness. Ranking them, I would say that Mokum came out on top and Napoli was at the bottom (unfortunate since this was the one with the highest yield).
Overall Impressions and Plan for Next Year
Not a great carrot year, but on the bright side, I was able to harvest enough to carry us for a few months anyhow. Those, together with several bags of carrots that I brought home from the farm, should take us to this spring.
What I find interesting about my carrot growing experience, is that my lack of a good harvest has been due to very different reasons each year:
- 2012 – My first and, surprisingly, best year – the problem that time was that I simply grew too few carrots – they were gobbled up in no time.
- 2013 – Slugs, or possibly earwigs, got to all of the seedlings and my harvest that year was a big, fat zero
- 2014 – The carrots were grown in bed #8 which I discovered this year was being zapped of moisture and nutrients by a nearby willow tree. At the time, I wasn’t certain why the carrots hadn’t sized up and blamed it on the bed being too shady. I did notice how difficult the carrots were to pull up and all of the fine roots in the bed at the time, but thought those belonged to the carrots.
Each problem has brought with it one or more solutions, so I now have a laundry list of corrective measures to implement this coming season:
- sow a full bed of carrots (2012)
- avoid shady beds (2014 & 2015)
- sow the carrots on time (2015)
- use Granny’s seed mat method (2015)
- use diatomaceous earth to deal with slugs until the seedlings get to a good size (2013)
- irrigate in a timely manner (2015)
As for varieties, I’ll be dropping Napoli & Chantenay Red Core. Although Napoli produced well, when it comes down to it, my priority is taste & this one was at the bottom of the list. As for Chantenay Red Core, I don't particularly like it's fat, squat shape - I prefer longer, cylindrical carrots. I’ll keep the remaining varieties and will be adding 2 more which have been on my list for a while - Yaya & Bolero.
I KNOW that 2016 will be THE year that I finally get my bountiful carrot harvest. One must be optimistic about these things, right?