GROW YOUR OWN ORGANIC CARROTS

Feathery top growth of the carrot is a pleasing feature of every well-cultivated vegetable patch; clean, straight roots are in demand the year round in every kitchen.

Light or sandy soil, so long as it is rich enough, produces better crops than heavy, clay-like ground.

For deep soils, varieties such as St. Valery and Long Red should be chosen; for shallow ground, stump-rooted varieties are most suitable, including Favourite and Early Market Red-cored. Roots of moderate length include Scarlet Intermediate and Matchless.

An ounce of seed will sow about 180 ft. of row. Germination takes about fifteen days.

Ready for Use.

July, and on to March fin store).

Soil Preparation.

A patch of ground where pea, bean or celery was the previous crop will give good results (provided they were prepared for by deep digging, and manure or rotted vegetable matter was worked in). Clay or other heavy ground needs to be broken up deeply and made lighter by the mixing in of plenty of wood ash and leaf-mould. Soil that is poor and thin is made suitable by digging in leaf-mould; and a heavy dressing of wood ash and soot is very desirable.

When and How to Sow.

Early varieties, such as Champion Scarlet Horn, Early Horn, Early Gem (these are all 4 in. to 5 in. long and very tender eating), may be sown on a warm, sunny piece of ground (such as a garden border facing the south) in February, 1 in. drills made 6 in. apart, two or three seeds being dropped at intervals of about 5 in. These will give the earliest pullings.

The same varieties sown in July will provide welcome roots for autumn and winter use.

Maincrop sowing dates are March, April and May. For these the 1 in. deep drills should be about 1 ft. apart, the seed groups being 8 in. apart.

Sowing in a Frame.

An unoccupied frame can be put to good use by sowing therein one of the early varieties named, in February; this will give roots for pulling in April. The soil bed should be about 8 in. deep and broken finely. Scatter the seed broadcast, very thinly, on the moist surface and cover with sifted soil to the depth of ½ in. Close down the glass top (the frame light) and give no air until the seedlings show. Then prop up the light 1 in. whenever the weather is mild, closing it down at night and covering with sacking (in case of frost). All light possible is necessary by day, and watering will need care. Ventilation should be increased as the weather becomes more spring-like.

Thin these frame carrots early to 2 in. apart, then to 4 in.

Handling the Seed.

Easiest way to sow group fashion in outdoor rows is to empty some seed from the packet into the palm of the left hand and take small pinches between forefinger and thumb of the right hand, dropping two or three seeds at each station. Cover with very fine soil, sifted if necessary.

Thinning Out.

Each group is to be reduced to one plant when seedlings are about 1 in. high. Alternatively, seed may be sown continuously but thinly along the drill; first thinnings will be too small to use, but later ones will cook deliciously – maincrop carrots standing finally about 8 in. apart, early varieties about 5 in.

It is very necessary that the soil iould be pressed back (with rake foot) around the young plants.t each thinning, as a discouragement to the carrot fly which seeks to lay its eggs in loose soil around the top of the root.

Deformed, Grub-eaten Roots.

Carrot roots will inevitably fork and split if they come in contact with either fresh or old animal manure. Obstacles such as stones in the soil will cause roots to grow out of shape; therefore stones should be removed during digging. Long-rooted varieties cannot drive down to the depth they want to go in ground that is only shallowly dug, or chalky or clayey a few inches down; stump-rooted varieties only should be sown in these conditions.

Carrot fly attacks roots from above; its grubs descend and gnaw the roots below. Wireworms tunnel into the roots. Methods of discouraging the former (additional to firming the soil after thinning, as previously mentioned) and trapping the latter are explained in the chart ‘Remedies against Enemies of Vegetable Crops’.

How to Encourage Growth. Carrots in poor soil are encouraged to get a move on by applications of wood ash, a trowelful to die yard run, sprinkled around the plants and watered in; an occasional sprinkling of dried blood also helps, put down when the soil is moist, or watered in. Soil should be kept loose on the surface between rows by regular use of the hoe.

Lifting the Roots.

Use the fork to get die roots up, driving it in a few inches to one side of the row and using it as a lever to loosen the roots’ grip; withdraw the roots with the free hand.

Storing for Winter.

Roots are hardy, but if maincrop carrots are left in heavy or wet ground too long, slugs and other pests may spoil them; or they may crack. They are ready to go into store when full growth has been made and the tops begin to yellow. Soil that may be attached to the lifted roots should be removed, and if they are wet they should be allowed to dry before storing. They may be wintered in a cellar or shed, or be clamped in the manner described under beet.

Exception as to lifting is made in the case of early varieties sown in July. These may remain in the ground, for forking up as required.

Preparing for Table.

Scrub and scrape young roots, and cook whole. Scrub and peel older ones; remove a slice from the top, also the hard central core there; cut in sections or slices, as required for cooking. Carrots have a high sugar and vitamin A content.

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