July 15, 2010

Grow your own Carrots 2010

Carrot seedPLANT: ‘Early Nantes’ Carrots


Carrot Early Nantes is a second early and maincrop Nantes (tapered stump) type. It is virtually coreless with good texture, colour and flavour.

These are the same seeds I planted last year without any success. I tried to grow them in my raised bed and the seeds did sprout but the carrots were absolutely tiny. It didn’t help that something dug a big hole and disturbed all the seeds.


Sow direct: March-July 23rd Mar
Germination time: 7-10 days a few days before 9th Apr!
Ideal temperature: 10°C  
Harvest: May-October  
Time from seed to plate: 12 weeks  



  • Carrots love light, stone free, well drained, fertile soils with plenty of well rotted organic matter in them.
  • Sow as thinly as possible to avoid having to thin them out later, as this disturbs the roots and attracts carrot fly, which causes reddish leaves that wilt, then turn yellow.
  • Don’t sow where you’ve grown potatoes, beetroot, parsnips, celery, aubergines, tomatoes or peppers in the previous year.
  • Sow every few weeks for a continuous supply, in rows spaced a trowel blade apart.


  • Once seedlings appear gently pull out the weaker plants, leaving one carrot every couple of cm.
  • When the carrots are around 8-10cm high, thin out the row to leave at 5cm spacing for larger carrots, the carrots you pull up for this thinning can be eaten.


  • Water sparingly but be careful not to let the soil dry out. Water them first thing in the morning with a deep soaking, every few days.
  • Feed the carrots twice, first when they are about 8cm tall and again when they are about 15cm tall.


  • Plan to harvest before carrots fully mature, as they are more tender when picked earlier. Carrots mature 65 to 85 days after seeds are sown.


Useful websites:


March 23rd:
Holes in trugSo I’m trying to grow carrots again, this time in a trug. I made some holes in the bottom using a chisel that Steve found for me and it made perfect holes. I then put some crocks (a broken bowl that I accidentally smashed!) over the holes so they wouldn’t get blocked. I filled the trug with multi-purpose compost, then put a thin layer of seed compost on top.

23-03 Carrots sowedI drew a line to divide the trug into 2 sections as I plan to sow some more seeds at a later date. I thinly sowed the seeds on the top section, as marked by a bamboo skewer! Then I covered the seeds with a thin layer of seed compost and watered using a sprayer.

23-03 Carrots fleeceI used a large fleece bag to cover the whole trug for a number of reasons: to stop anything trying to dig, to increase warmth, and to prevent carrot fly.











09-04 Carrots

I’ve not checked my carrots since I sowed the seeds, so I was pleasantly surprised to see loads had sprouted! As you can see I didn’t sow them very evenly, so I will have to thin them out. It just goes to show that random scattering is not a good idea!

Hopefully keeping the fleece over them will keep the carrot fly out. I thought I would need to water them, but the compost was very moist already. It has been raining all over the Easter weekend and the sun only started shining properly yesterday.



19-04 Carrots

The carrots are doing really well and I’m chuffed because I didn’t get to eat any home-grown carrots last year. I thinned them out last week, pulling maybe 20-25 of them out so that they were 2cm apart. They’re roughly 2-3cm tall now so hopefully the extra space is all they’ll need to keep growing bigger and bigger. Today was the first time I’ve watered them and I did it with the fleece cover still on so that they only get a light sprinkling as the compost is still pretty moist. I think the fleece has been brilliant and I will definitely grow them in the trug again covered with fleece.


27-04 Carrots

I only check the carrots roughly once a week as I keep the fleece over them all the time. So I was surprised to see that the tops now have the delicate fronds forming already.





somewhere between May and June:

I removed the fleece! I’m sorry I never recorded the actual date of this event. I’ve become very slack with my blogging since I started my new job!


4th July:

04-07 carrot

I wasn’t sure when I’d know when I’d be able to pull up my carrots, but after closer inspection I can see the top of one. It doesn’t look very big or orange at the moment, so I think I’ll leave them another couple of weeks.








6th July:

06-07 orange carrot

The carrots are starting to turn orange! I always get excited when I see something suddenly change in the garden. I am resisting the urge to pull these carrots, but I don’t know how long that will last as I really am curious as to how long they’ve grown. I would really like to be able to pull a big bunch of carrots out all at once, as I’d like a substantial side for my dinner and it would also make a good photo!










06-07 carrots

Here’s a photo of the lovely green fronds.











15th July:

15-07 first harvest of carrots

I pulled my first lot of carrots today! As you can see they’re quite small, but they were perfect for the stir fry I was making. We tried some raw and they tasted pretty good!


I also used one of my home-grown chillies. I’d previously used one in a pasta sauce but I took out the seeds and it wasn’t very hot, so this time I left the seeds in and it was the perfect heat.




Udon noodles with homegrown veg

Here’s my stir fry and a quick recipe for 2 people:

Thinly slice one piece of rump steak and marinate in a heaped tsp of cornflour mixed with enough light soy sauce to make a paste. Meanwhile chop up some garlic, spring onions, mushrooms, carrots, green chilli and any other veg you have grown/lurking in the fridge.


Heat up some oil in a wok until it’s smoking hot, then fry the beef until brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. If necessary add some more oil to the pan and fry the garlic, spring onions and chilli, then add the mushrooms and fry until brown. Chuck in the carrots and other veg and cook for a few minutes, then add a good glug of oyster sauce, some brown sugar, some soy sauce and some shaoshing wine. Bubble away and then add some udon noodles (that have had hot water poured over them to loosen them and then drained) and the beef. Stir well to make sure everything is coated and serve immediately.


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