Carrot and Parsnip Beds
21st Oct 1998
Most vegetable gardens, particularly those of the keen exhibitors are looking tired by now with only the odd vegetable here and there after most of them have been picked up and used at the last show. In my case I have a large number of Corrie carrots left over in the bed, not because they are no good, simply because they were surplus to requirements at the time as I had already selected the best for competition and I did manage to win with them at the Harrogate show. It will therefore be rather nice to have an ample supply of what in my opinion is one of the tastiest carrots available.
These will be left in the bed if necessary through early Winter as I prefer to have them fresh from the ground for eating, and as we rarely have sustained frosty periods on Anglesey, I won't have to take any protective measures.
Cleaning the Beds
As soon as the last carrot is removed, two of the three beds will be cleaned up of any weeds and as both were filled with clean concreting sand earlier on in the year, it will be a very easy task. The sand will then be roughly loosened over with a gaff and each bed soaked with full strength solution of Armillatox.
The third bed was also filled up earlier this year but with the old sand from my parsnips bed and even though I managed to pull some good carrots from this bed, the quality of those from the beds with the clean sand was much better.
The reason for clearing out the sand initially from the parsnip beds was because of the deep ingrained brown marks that were evident on every parsnip that I pulled last year. This brown marking becomes evident after a number of years and must be as a result of the old fine hair like roots that are annually left in the beds after each parsnip is pulled. As I explained in an article a few weeks ago, Trevor Last from Stowmarket is convinced that these roots, which are evident in abundance if you take a core out of a bore hole a few days after having pulled a parsnip; are non existent later on in the year when the beds are emptied out. Trevor is convinced that these rotting roots over the years must eventually contaminate the beds leaving the brown marks on the skins.
If you have had parsnips this years that were very difficult to clean up as a result of these brown marks and you have been growing then in the same medium year in year out, then the answer is to have clean sand. The parsnips that I pulled this year never had a single mark on them which must surely prove the point. When I used some of the old sand from the parsnip beds in the third short carrot bed the disease must have been there as the carrots never really grew as well as the others.
One of a few disasters that I had this year was with my long carrots, even though I managed to win a few classes with them, my selection was badly depleted because of a black canker type disease that developed around the shoulder of the carrot. This is a disease that is not seen too often in growing carrots but mainly in those that are kept in store. It certainly reduced my bed by over 50% which was heart breaking and after a conversation with a carrot breeder, he said that this disease is spread by spores so next year I shall spray them at an early stage with a suitable fungicide.
The blackening around the shoulder becomes evident fairly early on in the season, around June time, so you must keep a sharp look out for the warning signs. The first sign is that you will notice the leaf stalks starting to turn black at soil level slowly creeping up the stalks whilst at the same time blackening the crown and shoulders of the carrot. This blackening is also followed by a number of tiny cracks around the shoulder which eventually develop into deep ones. As soon as I saw that I had a problem, those carrots that had any sign of blackening were removed and disposed of but I refrained from spraying as I wanted to see whether or not the removal of all the infected ones would stop it"s spread. Unfortunately it didn't and many more good carrots succumbed to it.
The sad thing is that you never really know how good those carrots would have been as it seems to stop their development having the effect of squeezing the life from the carrot as the blackening spreads around the neck inwards. As a preventative measure, when the beds are emptied and during the refilling of them later on this year, the sand which was clean sand two years ago, will be saturated in layers with full strength Armillatox as a precautionary measure and in an attempt to kill any spores should there be any left in the bed.