Tag Archives: carrot root fly

Jobs for May

Well, for the first day in May we have some hazy sunshine and it is not raining! It is still quite cold though.

May is the month to start sowing outside and hardening off seedlings to plant out when the soil becomes warm enough.

Is anyone else getting a sore neck from gazing at the sky, wondering when the sunshine will return?

I have a bit of a backlog in the greenhouse. Lots of plants successfully germinated in March are ready to go into cold frames (which have not been built yet!) but after what happened in April I fear for their future if I put them outside.

Brassicas outside but kept under a net just to be on the safe side!

I put the brassicas out during the day and put them back inside at night but not only is there still a risk of frost damage, the slugs have slithered out of hibernation (do slugs hibernate?) and are starting to nibble. It’s like living in a war zone!

 

 

Anyway, I have checked the books, encyclopedia, manuals, handbooks and magazines and here is a summary of what we should all be doing in the month of May.

Jobs to do:

  • Harden off frost tender plants
  • Once the last risk of frost has passed, plant crops outside
  • Start watering newly planted fruit and any grown in pots
  • Keep an eye on the pest situation – flea beetle, slugs, snails, pigeons, aphids and carrot flies…where does it end…
  • Keep growing small quantities of salad
  • Hoe and weed regularly
  • Keep haunching up potatoes – we have still to sow the maincrops which should really have been done last week but I’m sure one week won’t make a huge difference.
  • Put in supports for peas and beans. We use the prunings (or whips) from the apple trees – the ultimate in upcycling!
  • Net fruit trees and bushes and check for diseases and pests
  • Remove raspberry suckers and strawberry runners
  • Support tall plants as they grow
  • Finally, remember to sit down and enjoy your hard work!

I am going to grow tomatoes, peppers, chillies, aubergines and okra in the greenhouse.  I have brassicas, leeks, shallots and celeriac ready to plant out but will probably wait until the second half of the month. I have sown some peas outside as well as beetroot and parsnips but I also plan to sow beans, spinach, Florence fennel and swedes.

So it is shaping up to be a busy old month!

The greenhouse is full!

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Carrots should be orange!

We have quite stoney ground so I have always grown carrots in a variety of deep pots. Today I planted my first batch of main crop carrots.

My method

Old square flower pots are ideal for carrots

I use these square-ish flower containers as they are deep enough for the carrots to grow and it can be moved around the garden.

I put crocs (bits of broken china, bricks and stones) in the bottom for drainage, fill with multi-purpose compost (or some of my own when it’s ready), add a thin layer of seed compost, water, sprinkle the carrot seeds over the surface then cover with a thin layer of seed compost.

 

I will keep them in the greenhouse until there is no more risk of frost and then I sit the pot up on blocks in a sunny spot in the garden.

I have always just sprinkled the seeds on top of watered compost and let them grow. You are supposed to thin them out but I have never bothered – just don’t sow too many seeds and they will all have plenty of room.

It is also suggested that you sow seeds every 2-3 weeks to provide a continual supply but I have found that as long as they are in the soil they will last for months. There is nothing better than nipping down to the bottom of the garden and pulling some carrots to have with dinner. I will probably plant another pot in 6-8 weeks and that should see me through to autumn.

Purple Haze and Autumn King 2

Last year I grew Purple Haze and Autumn King 2. I mixed the seeds and planted them together so it was always a surprise which colour came out of the pot. It is a good mixture and they look great on the plate.

I still have seeds for both varieties and will continue planting them until I run out.

Now I know that carrots were originally purple and it was the Dutch that changed the colour to orange.  I admire Jamie Oliver for trying to bring back traditional varieties of vegetables, in this case Purple Haze carrots. However, purple carrots MESS WITH MY HEAD and I’m not sure I will grow any more once the seeds have finished.

They look like carrots and taste like carrots but they are purple. Sometimes you just want some nice orange carroty loveliness covered in butter without confusing your brain. Life is too short and the novelty has definitely worn off.

Early Carrots

Early carrots planted in a rose container

This year I read that to get an early crop of carrots use a deep pot, such as a rose container, and bring seeds on in the greenhouse. Here are some I planted on 18 February.  I will let you know if they are ready to eat any earlier than the main crops planted today.

Interesting fact about carrots

If you are planning to grow carrots, keep them at least 18 inches above the ground. The reason? Apparently carrot root fly grubs cannot fly!

 

Keep them well watered during dry spells as this stops the roots from splitting.

Wait until the carrots are in the kitchen before tearing the tops off. The smell of bruised foliage attracts carrot fly.

To store them over winter, any soil should be removed and they should be kept in sand in a cool dark place.