With its short conical roots, Carrot 'Caracas' is a good choice for growing on heavier soils, and ideal for sowing in containers as 'baby' carrots. 'Chantenay' types are increasingly popular in the supermarket but have been a gardeners' favourite for years. The rich orange flesh of these coreless roots have an outstanding flavour, whether they are eaten fresh or stored for later in the year. Height: 30cm (12"). Spread: 15cm (6").
Direct sow carrot seeds outdoors from March to July. Early varieties may also be sown from February to March in greenhouse borders or under cloches. Specific autumn sowing carrot varieties can be sown as late as October under cloches for an early crop in spring. Grow Carrots in a weed free, sunny position in fertile, light, well drained soil. Carrots dislike freshly manured soils so seed beds are best prepared in autumn, well in advance of spring sowings.
Sow carrot seeds thinly at a depth of 1cm (½in) in drills 30cm (12") apart. Germination will take 10 to 20 days. When large enough to handle, thin out the seedlings within each row to 10cm (4in) apart. Where space is limited, growing carrots in containers will also produce a worthwhile crop.
Water well to encourage germination. Once germinated, carrots should be watered only when necessary to keep the soil moist as excessive water may encourage leaf growth instead of roots. During growth, the carrot roots may be earthed up to prevent green crowns developing.
Cover later carrot sowings with fleece or fine netting, and remove all thinnings from the site to minimise carrot fly infestation. Carrots can be harvested from July to December depending on their sowing date. Early varieties may be lifted when required from 9 weeks onwards, while maincrops can be harvested after 11 weeks from their sowing date. Pull a single carrot first to assess the size of the roots. If the soil is dry, lifting carrots can be made easier by watering beforehand. Roots can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 4 months.
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