Exhibition Stump and Long Carrot growing attempt
This year I've decided to have a go at growing some extra long carrots and some stump rooted ones for showing.
Apparently It's possible to grow extra long carrots in excess of 4ft !
Although I have reasonable success growing bog standard carrots for eating,I've never tried growing very long ones or exhibition ones before and have no Idea how to do it.
However,after gaining some very helpful advice on the subject from Simon : aka Smithyveg,I thought I'd give it a go.
The photos above are some of his prize winning specemins.
I'll be growing the stump rooted ones in a sand bed and the long ones in some 5ft lengths of drainpipe.
So here goes : my attempt as it happens,with all the ups and inevitable downs.
The 1st thing to do was to make a raised bed bottomless box out of timber for the stump rooted carrots.
I'm only going to sow 16,so a 2ft x 2ft x 18" one will allow me to grow this many at about 6" spacings.
Then I placed the box on top of one of my soil beds outside and filled it with washed concreting sand.
I wish I'd have had a tonne bag delivered now as it took 10 bags (the best part of half a tonne) to fill just this small box up.
After I filled it up I gave it a good soaking to settle the sand.I'll now leave it to settle for a further week and then the hole boring procedure starts.
Day 2, and now to do the tedious job of preparing the soil mixture.
First to sieve a whole load of compost through a 1/4 inch sieve to get out all the lumps,twigs,bark etc.
It's amazing how much rough stuff is actually in compost once you sieve it.
Well,after a few hours of mind numbing tedium and half a bin liner full of lumps ,I finally have 100 litres of lump free fine sieved compost.
Many people have their own specific soil mixtures and my Senior Carrot Advisor : Smithyveg has provided me with a couple of recipes.
I've decided to sort of merge the two somewhat and have come up with a mixture of my own.
The mix will be a follows:
4 parts sieved compost
1 part sieved coarse sand
1 part sieved top soil
1 part Vermiculite
To each 20 litres of the mix I'm going to add:
2 oz Vitax Q4 Fertilizer (Finely ground up)
1 oz Ground Limestone
1 oz Calcified Seaweed Meal
So now it's just a matter of sieving the topsoil and sand,grinding up the fertilizer and then mixing it all in my neighbours Cement Mixer.
Oh....and order the Drainage Pipes from Screwfix !
Mixed the soil mix today in the cement mixer.
So that's about 200 litres in all.
Then I decided to construct my Carrot tube contraption.
So that's that done.I used 4 inch drain pipes 5 feet long
Looks like a Terrorist Rocket Launcher from a distance,so I might get a visit from Special Branch.
Then I had a go at boring the holes in the sand box for the stump carrots using a length of 3" downspout.
The first one came out like a dream but then some of the others,the sand just kept slipping back out of the pipe and back into the hole.
Then as instructed I used a metal bar to make it a little deeper and then used my patented soil funnel to add the soil, occasionally using a cane to settle it a bit.
Eventually after much faffing about I managed to get all 16 holes bored and filled.
I couldn't imagine the thought of doing 100+ of these,it'd drive me mad !!
Then I filled the pipes up for the long carrots.
Once again using a patented carrot pipe soil filling funnel ( Coming soon to a high street store near you ! ) I filled the pipes up.
Made a major calculation balls up as to the volume of soil mix I'd need and came up 2 pipes short.
I'm not mixing any more so I'll just shove some multipurpose mixed with a bit of sand and fertilizer in the last 2 and see what happens.
I'll sow the seed in the next couple of days.
Well,the Seeds arrived today so I deceided to sow them.
I sowed about 4-5 seeds to each "station" and will thin out to the strongest seedling if they actually germinate.(I'm starting to sound like I know what I'm talking about) NOT !!!
Some of the seeds were actually bright blue,don't know what that's all about ??
Decided to give them a bit of protection by putting a sheet of plastic over the sand bed raised above the soil with a wooden batten,and some bottles over the pipes,I'm hoping it may keep them a bit warmer and help conserve moisture and speed up germination.
So I suppose that's about it,it's now just a matter of seeing if any decide to actually germinate.
At last !!!!!!
13 days after sowing and finally I have some germination.
If you look really hard you can just see it in the pipe,which has settled somewhat.
That's about 3 of each type germinated,even the wierd blue coloured Stump Rooted ones.
So all they need to do now is grow about 5ft long and 3 inches across and I'll be dead happy.
So 3 weeks after sowing,amazingly nearly all the carrots have germinated.
The ones that still haven't come through have been re-sown along with the odd sickly looking ones.
The only trouble is I don't know how to thin them out to just one per position.
I don't know if I simply pull the weaker ones out or snip them off.
I'll have to consult Smithyveg for his advice.
Well,into May now and nothing spectacular has happened.
Some of the Stump Rooted ones are starting to produce their 1st true leaves.
After some advice I have to wait a bit longet before thinning, then, simply pulling the weaker seedlings out rather than cutting them off at soil level.
Peverseley the long carrots I sowed a week late in bog standard multi-purpose compost rather than the ball-achingly hard to make special mix (because I ran out) are already up and growing faster than the others !!!
Well,decided to bite thr bullet today and thin the stump rooted carrots down to 1 per station.
As they are all producing a couple of true leaves I just carefully pulled the weaker seedlings out to leave just the one strongest one.
So that's about it,one solitary carrot per station,I just hope they grow now.
Finally I have amazingly reached 100% germination.
The stump rooted ones were much better than the long ones but now even they are all through.
So now I suppose it's just a matter of seeing if they aren't attacked by pests.
That's about it for now.
Well,finally bitten the bullet and thinned all the carrots down to one.
They seem to be growing pretty well but with all this hot weather at the moment I'm not too sure what to do about the watering.
I suppose someone who knows more than me will tell me what I should do.
P.S I got a tip from my Giant Onion growing Guru Gary who also grows big Carrots and Parsnips,who suggested rubbing a clove of garlic around the top of the pipes and around the wooden bed weekly to help deter Carrot Fly,it might not be 100% effective but It certainly won't do any harm and to be honest I've never had carrot fly in my veg plot when I've grown them inbetween rows of Garlic,so I'll give it a go.
A few mixed fortunes over the last 3 weeks.
On the down side I've lost 3 of the long carrots which just keeled over and one of the stumps seems to have got someting.
But on the plus side,the others seem to be doing OK.
I've given them a good spray with some systemic insecticide to hopefully ward off any aphids.
Put it this way,they're doing better than my bloody onions are !!
Things starting to really move on now.
Well,above ground anyway,god knows what the actual Carrots will end up like.
Had a sly scrape back of the soil and the stump ones are about 3/4" at the top,can't reach the long ones as the bloody compost's dropped about 4" in the pipe.
It's going to be really interesting in about 2 months time to see what lies beneath.
Well,they're still growing.
Found some giant green caterpillars on a couple of plants,strangely though they hadn't eaten anything so they must just have crawled there....baffling !!
Had a root about and the tops are pretty big on the stump ones,also the long ones seem quite wide too,so hopefully I might get an odd decent one.
Well,only 3 weeks until I'll be pulling the carrots up and I think they're probably ready now.
The top of the Sweet Candle stumps are pretty enormous,god knows what they're like underneath ?
As for the long ones there's absolutely loads of top growth and one of the tops of one carrot is about 3" across !!!.
Likewise, god only knows what they're like below the surface.
I've still no idea how on earth I'm going to extract them from the tubes anyway ??
Well,It's show time on Sunday and I'm bloody working all weekend so I had to rush out tonight and pull the carrots up and get them ready for entry tomorrow night.
I am absolutely thrilled with the stump rooted ones and the set on the right are fantastic.
Let's just hope the judge agrees !!!
The long ones in the pipes were pretty rubbish, although I did just manage a set of 3.
As I'm in a rush at the moment I'll post some more later when I have more time.
Well,entered the carrots in the local show and cleaned up !!!
Managed to get a 1st place with the pretty ropey long carrots from the pipes and another one from the pipe won the most mis-shapen veg class.It had 8 separate carrot legs all over a foot long.
Does that count as an eight foot long carrot then ?
The really pleasing one was the clean sweep of the stump rooted class.
I'm definately going to have to erect a giant sand container to grow the long ones in next year.
Well,as promised I have duly constructed a giant sand box to hopefully grow some long carrots in next year with more sucess than I had this year in the pipes.
I was advised against using the pipes but ignored the advice to my cost.
So that's it,there's over 100 screws in the damn thing which should hopefully keep it together.
Now it's just a matter of barrowing over a tonne of sand 200 yds across my field to fill it and next year we should be up and running.
So over all this year, I couldn't have hoped for better stump carrots especially as this was a 1st attempt,2 1st places and one 2nd out of just 3 shows !!!,so many thanks must go to Smithyveg for his advice.
That about wraps it up for this year on the carrot front,don't forget to see how I get on next year.Thanks.
That's it for this week folks.........
Thanks a lot for looking.