Page 21 - Simply Vegetables Winter 2020/21
P. 21

                                My way with Stump Carrots
   I am retired and a member of the NVS, Southern Branch. I have been growing vegetables for over 40 years, exhibiting for about 25 years and have qualified
as an NVS judge. I also belong to North Tonbridge Horticultural Society which has affiliation to the NVS.
Do you only exhibit at your local show
or perhaps also at DA level? Have you always thought of growing stump carrots
for showing but are put off by the thought of shifting tons of sand? The method described below for growing stump carrots without all the sand works well for me and if followed you will certainly be in the running for a winning set at your local show.
 Before I describe the current method
used here is a little history. Early attempts
at growing carrots for show involved just growing in the garden soil and having to
dig up a whole row to find just three roots
– carrot fly and all! I then tried growing in slightly raised beds in boreholes made in the soil and had better results. From there I grew in various plastic vessels including heavy duty tree containers filled with compost. As these are circular with tapered sides, carrots around the edges of the container would bend in shape. I then progressed to the world of sand! Large wooden boxes were filled with sharp sand and the carrots were grown in bored or cored holes which are filled with a growing medium or ‘carrot mix’. One cubic metre of sand weighs about a ton and shifting it is back breaking work. I have had some success with long
carrots using this method
– not so with my stump
carrots. I found that watering
was difficult to judge as the
sand dries out quickly and
had disappointing results
particularly with uniformity of
the roots. At my time of life,
I decided to scale down by
growing in smaller boxes and
to make the task lighter by
using a lot less sand.
As I only exhibit at three
shows – North Tonbridge,
the Kent DA and Kent Federation of Horticultural Societies I do not need to
grow hundreds of carrots. I can cover
these shows by growing just 30 roots. This gives me enough for the stump carrot and collection classes. The carrots are grown in two relatively small wooden boxes which are filled entirely with my carrot mix. You do not need a huge garden, polytunnel or allotment with this method as the boxes take up little
Enviromesh removed briefly to inspect the carrots which are growing well in early June
I am not at all scientific in my approach to the carrot mix, relying on what looks right to me
space. So, anyone can have a go. If you only need one decent set of three carrots for your local village show then you need only grow a dozen roots in one box.
Here is my current method:
Box Construction
My carrot boxes are built using 150 x
25mm tanalised timber. The boxes are open bottomed and measure 810 x 550 x 600mm high (in old money that’s about 32 x 22 x 24 inches). This size is designed for 15 carrots. You could make smaller boxes if you wish to grow fewer carrots but I would recommend
I’m afraid that this compost is proving to
be somewhat elusive! I only know of one stockist in Surrey and all my attempts to
find out exactly what is in it have been in vain. What I do know is that it grows lovely carrots! If you are using a compost with a high peat content then I would suggest that you add some sterilised soil or John Innes
to add a bit of body. I put all the compost through my shredder to remove any lumps. I find this quicker than sieving and there is no waste. The resulting fine compost and sand are mixed by hand in a wheelbarrow in about 50 litre batches. As the compost will contain some fertiliser, I don’t add too much more. To the 50 litres batch I add approximately
40 grams each of Thomas Elliott Flower
and Vegetable Fertiliser, powdered calcified seaweed and garden lime. A little water is added too. Each box takes 270 litres of my mix of which approximately 40 litres is sand. The boxes are filled during the second half of March, watered and left to settle.
Cultivars and Sowing
There is a huge range of carrot varieties available from many seed companies. For my show carrots I always buy seed from specialist exhibition suppliers including Medwyns of Anglesey, Select Seeds and Fosters Seeds. You will be certain to find the best varieties for the stump carrot classes from these suppliers. Most people are growing Sweet Candle for showing. I don’t know about you but I’m finding this a little bit boring. As a judge it would be a real treat to see some different varieties on the show bench! Other varieties that I have grown successfully include Mercurio F1 (good for
the same depth. I like to line the inside walls with black polythene sheet to help extend the life of the timber. A layer of heavy duty weed fabric is placed on firmed level soil in the garden and the boxes are positioned on top of the fabric. If you have to place your box on a hard surface such as a concrete path or paving then you will need to make a base for it and provide drainage holes.
Growing Medium or ‘Carrot Mix’
I am not at all scientific in my approach to the carrot mix, relying on what looks right to me. But very roughly I mix about six parts of general purpose compost with one part of sharp sand. Just cheap clean sharp sand from any DIY store is ok. I use a compost described as being organic. It is called Thatchers Super Mix and as far as I have been able to find out, contains some peat.
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