Thursday, 21 August 2014

Abysmal carrots!

Carrots are usually a staple for the summer and into the winter but not this year.

The early sowing was almost a complete failure, there were so few germinating that I pulled them out in the end and sowed again in a different spot.

The second sowing in the polytunnel had a better germination rate but the seedlings have been slow to develop. Later sowings outside germinated reasonably well but, despite a mesh to stop carrot root fly, they are riddled with the worms and I will have to remove the carrots to try and prevent the worms pupating and causing more problems next year.

Why the failures? I had heard that other growers were struggling with germination during early spring, and this was put down to dry weather and it being unusually warm. Certainly with the second sowing in the polytunnel I ensured that I watered more frequently and watered the drill before I sowed the seed. Germination was better but it was a hot summer in the polytunnel and this has not been to the carrots' liking. By now we are usually eating plenty but I pulled one a couple of days ago and the carrot (well-flavoured) was too small to have more than a bite or two.

Why did the outdoor ones get carrot root fly? Unfortunately it can be difficult to judge when the carrot fly is on the wing, and it is a very small fly. Possibly it either got through the mesh or hatched from overwintering pupae underneath, although I think that was unlikely as the carrots were sown in a very different spot from the previous year's carrots. Certainly I have plenty of potential host plants around the croft and carrot root fly has become more of a problem, though never as bad as this.

Next year I plan to grow the carrots in tubs and avoid the vegetable patch to try and break the cycle. Even with removing the carrots and, hopefully eradicating the fly larvae, I would expect a few to slip through. If they are in deep tubs, new growing medium and in the other polytunnel I expect to get a clean crop. I'll let you know!

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