Show Carrots and Potatoes
2nd Jul 1997
The carrots will be really romping away by now and with the probability that the tap root of the long rooted varieties will have well reached the bottom of the growing medium, all they need to do from now on is to swell out. The panes of glass that I have covering the growing stations in the manner of a small cold frame have been fully opened and the roof glass will always remain on so that I can close it should we have some really heavy rain as there is always the danger of them splitting.
With my long carrots I'm very fortunate that I never have any problems with carrot fly since have been growing them in raised beds or drums with the glazing cover, neither have I had problems with the willow aphid that can easily devastate a carrot crop. However I do as a matter of routine use some Crop Saver in a gallon sprayer mixed with alternate liquid feeds of either Fillip or Maxicrop with added iron. Both of these feeds are also given to my carrots for the other than long classes as well as for the parsnips and applied every fortnight to really give the plants that dark green healthy foliage.
Growing Under Glass
Growing under glass however gave me a major problem last year, for the first time, my long carrots developed powdery mildew and before I knew it the foliage had turned white to silvery and growth more or less came to a halt. I had to regularly spray them with Nimrod T to control the disease but by the time I had it under control, the carrots had lost the best part of the season to put on real weight.
Removing Compost from around the Crown
A very important job to carry out at this time of year is to carefully remove some compost from around the crown or shoulder of each carrot in every station. This is done to make sure that when you lift them they will all have just the one main centre growing foliage with nicely shaped rounded shoulders. What you don"t want to allow is the development of secondary growth around the periphery of the main central one. These added shoots will quickly grow away and with the extra foliage creating added photosynthesis, the plant will appear to grow stronger.
These young shoots can easily be spotted after scraping the compost away and if carefully bent over they will snap off cleanly. This will leave a small scar that will soon heal up and by the time the carrots are pulled or lifted, you won't notice any sign of the damage. If you don"t do this then the side growth will quickly develop into a fairly large ugly lump or even lumps and eventually the shoulder of the carrot will also be miss shapen.
Show potatoes should be growing away strongly now using the new method where they are grown in 12" diameter poly bags filled with peat and fertiliser. Don't forget if you are prone to the disease blight, spray them right away now using Dithane 945 and covering both the topside as well as the underside of the leaves.
World Potato Championship
For those of you aspiring to greater things and stiffer competition, the World Potato Championship that I mentioned in this column some months ago is now definitely underway and will be held as part of the Ayr Show at Rozelle Park on Thursday 28th August through to Saturday 30th.
The competition is for Six dishes of six tubers per dish - six varieties named. and the prize money is as follows First £500.00, Second £300.00, Third £150.00, Fourth £50.00, Fifth £30.00 Sixth £20.00.
The judges for this prestigious event will be Charles Maissey from Pontyclun South Wales, Ron McFarlane Pembroke West Wales and J.T. Williams Pathead Scotland. One important rule to observe if you intend having a go at this competition, All exhibits must be named - no unnamed seedlings permitted. An excellent rule, and one that should in my opinion be introduced to all potato competitions because in the past, some exhibitors have been able to get hold of new seedlings before they become generally available to everyone else gaining a huge advantage. The entry fee is £6.00 and the organisers are prepared to accept postal exhibits by arrangement with the Show Manager, Rozelle Park, Ayr. Tel Number 01292 282 842 from whom you can also get a full schedule; the closing date for entries is August 26th.