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Growing Carrots

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raised-bedMy third raised bed is designated as the root vegatable bed, and this year I have decided to devote it to the honourable task of growing carrots.

GROWING CARROTS

Carrots are a vegetable we eat a lot of. We have carrots in almost everything and I love them raw as well. They are probably much cheaper to buy in the supermarket but they just don’t have the sweet taste of the home-grown ones. Come to think of it the supermarkets pretty much beat home growing on price all the time.

misty-rocksSince our garden is on the Wild Atlantic Way near the Burren that means we a damp, rainy climate, tons of rocks, loads of briar and other thorny plants and very little decent soil.

GROWING VEGETABLES – SAVES MONEY?

We needed two tons of soil at 70 euro per ton just for the four raised beds, and we probably will need to keep buying soil forever since our 1. 4 acre garden isn’t exactly divvying up the dirt. Then when you add in the cost of the raised beds, seeds, tools, gloves, feeds, etc., well let’s say growing your own carrots doesn’t save you money, but if you enjoy growing carrots and enjoy eating carrots then there’s worse things you could spend your money on…

There is more to growing your own vegetables than money. Gardening is not just fun and rewarding, it is an investment in your own future. Who knows whether it will always be possible to import vegetables the way we do now.

Will there always be oil to fuel all those massive transport vehicles used to import vegetables? I can’t tell the future but I do know it will be different. We need to retain our gardening skills, grow vegetables, and teach our kids that carrots don’t grow in supermarkets.

SOWING CARROTS

Okay, back to the present. I am too early on in my gardening career to have a supply of my own saved seeds although I hope to do this in future. For now, I simply bought carrot seeds  from the wonderful Seedsavers in County Clare and followed the instructions.

I sprinkled the seeds, which are tiny, and tend to get stuck up your nails – in straight rows marked out by using a piece of wood. I then marked the planted lines with some darker compost so I could tell by the darker colour exactly where  the seeds were planted. If you have any sand you could try mixing your carrot seeds with sand before sowing.

I realised that only growing carrots in the raised bed would leave the bed with a great deal of bare soil for  a long time, which meant that the weeds would take over before the slower growing carrots had a chance to grow.

So on impulse, I decided to plant some of my sweet pea plants in the same bed. I have been growing these outdoors in plastic boxes and have a decent supply so I made some cane supports and got planting.

I was very careful not to put either the canes, or the sweet pea plants near the rows of carrots but just generally tried to interspace them.

GROWING CARROTS WITH  MARIGOLDS

I also stuck in a few little Marigold plants I have been growing from seed because they are supposed to give off a smell that carrot fly don’t like, so hopefully my carrots won’t be munched to death by those dreaded carrot-killers.

I wasn’t sure if my method would work but I regard everything I do in the garden an experiment, that way I am too worried if it doesn’t work out.

beetroot-carrotThis experiment did work out however, and I was rewarded with a lovely display of sweet peas and marigolds. Later on came the lovely crop of carrots you can see above with the lovely beetroots that I also grew myself.

I regard myself as a learner gardener. I have no training apart from what I read in books, or by reading articles around the Internet.

The thing is there’s only so much you can read about gardening.  I find I don’t really take in all of the gardening information I read – at least not until I actually get outside and get my hands dirty.

It sinks in more when you put it into practice. To me, making an academic subject out of gardening sucks the fun out of it. Instead, what I tend to do is work away with the minimum of research in the hope that some of my ‘experiments’ will grow and I will get a nice edible surprise when it does. This keeps me entertained and so far my approach seems to be working.

Strange-shaped-carrotOne thing I didn’t anticipate was how the presence of rocks in the soil affects how carrots grow, as you can see with this strange looking carrot.

There’s lots more about growing vegetables here.

Good luck with your gardening.

Grace

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