January 25

Carrot Plan

If I want carrots all year round, I will have to say it is for June 24 to June 25 as I can’t magic any up before then. What I do in late summer and early autumn will be critical for keeping me in carrots throughout the winter – ready grown but not harvested. There are several ways I could approach this task:

  • Do a bumper sowing in May and then pick over the year, hoping that I have enough to last me until the next July. This is the approach I normally take and guess what. It doesn’t really work.
  • Sow small amounts each month, making use of outside, polytunnel and pots. This might be my best approach but is a lot of sowing – I will forget and then have a gap!
  • Sow all in May but use a variety of seeds so that some are larger and grown for storage, e.g Oxhella and others are grown for eating straight away, e.g. Early Nantes. It might also be nice to have a few purple carrots too.

I’m going to try a mix of all three and then simplify it the following year when I know what happens. Sowing will start in April, a month before I would normally do so but I will need to get going.

April – sow outside, under fleece and one pot in the polytunnel. Variety – Early Nantes. These will be my summer carrots. Note how much earlier the pot that is started indoors is.

May – sow outside, under fleece as usual. These will be for early autumn use. Variety: Autumn King and Oxhella and a new one for me, Eskimo for winter and a purple variety.

June – sow outside but these will sit for a long time. Steve Richards recommends Touchon because they cope with sitting well. These will be ready late autumn and winter. I will also have pulled up and stored the Oxhella.

October – sow carrots for May time the following year – some in the polytunnel soil and some in containers to compare growth.

Things I need to do in order to be able to grow like this:

  • Put compost on beds for carrots rather than manure
  • Make sure I have enough packets of carrots of the right variety
  • Check that I have the right type of pots and bases to stop ants getting in them

I am going to try one row in the polytunnel sown late january just to see what happens. I have done this before and think that they are ready round about May but not very big.

One thing to think about is the more space a carrot has the quicker it grows and the bigger. I definitely oversow and don’t thin so may need to do that this year.

January 22

Challenges for 2024

I prefer not to think in terms of resolutions for the allotment, more things I would like to try. I have had several in the past: create enough compost for two plots (almost made it last year, might manage it this year), collect enough water to survive a six week drought (think I have managed this one) and finally, grow enough sprouts to last all winter. I have managed this one – I might have even over managed this one with sixteen plants left half way through January which at one a week will last a loooong time.

This year, having managed the sprouts, I want to challenge myself a bit more so I want to try and be self-sufficient in carrots. This is much more challenging because some years (2023 in particular) I didn’t manage any carrots.

Next, I want to try a hot bed just to see if it will grow anything earlier on in the year. I might try one in the polytunnel and one outside. (Ultimately, this will also be more compost for the beds as well.)

I also want to build a wormery on the soil at the allotments like the one Charles Dowding has. Worm compost is wonderful stuff and I can use it for potting up and generally plants that need a little TLC. (Compost gain!)

The last two won’t produce more compost because the inputs that I have are the same amount, it is just making it differently.

Challenges like these always produce a list of tasks I need to complete:

  • create a plan about how to grow carrots in order to have them all year round (June to June probably)
  • Order a load of cow manure to use in the hotbeds and place into containers
  • Prepare and gather materials for the wormery and create a space on one of the beds: piece of black plastic, tiger worms from the wormery at home, compost from one of the bins to start it off

I’ll keep you posted about how it is going.