Preparing the Short Carrots Bed and What to Replace Gringo With
6th Apr 2005
Preparing the Carrot Beds for Sowing
The days are certainly lengthening now that the clocks have gone forward an hour allowing us a little more time in the evenings to get things done. One task that I need to be getting on with is preparing my beds for sowing the short carrots or carrots other than long. For the past five years now they have predominantly been grown in two raised beds constructed from concrete blocks and filled with concreting sand.
There 's no doubt that 2003 was the best year that I have had for some time with my short carrots coming second in the NVS Championships at Harrogate with a set of 5 Gringo and winning with them at Malvern. Gringo is undoubtedly one of the best other than long carrots that I have introduced on to the showing scene. I also introduced Corrie a few years ago, and won the National with it on my first attempt, but it wasn't quite as good as Gringo on the show bench. Sadly Gringo has been withdrawn by the breeder as it"s small core and light wispy top made it difficult for efficient mechanical harvesting. Fortunately I still have some stock that are in a sealed steel can and should be sufficient for all my customers for next year.
What Variety of Carrot to Grow?
The big question now is, what do we grow after the demise of Gringo? Well I have a couple of varieties that I am currently going to try out that may do the business and of course we can always fall back on the old reliable Chantenay straight selection. The two that I will sow this coming week are both hybrids and are currently still at the number stage and waiting to be given a name.
One of the varieties really impressed me when I saw it at the RHS trial grounds at Wisley as it has an unusually strong orange colour that should really make a big impact on the show bench. We have to realise that when carrots other than long are judged under NVS rules, their colour is paramount.
In fact out of the 18 points maximum allowed, 5 is awarded for ‘Colour' which is the same value as for ‘Condition' and no other criteria has more. On the other hand, under RHS rules, the short carrot has a maximum of 20 points, but is only allowed 3 points for colour.
The samples that I saw were naturally grown in ordinary rows, but I saw enough to warrant giving it a really good go. Most carrot hybrids in the UK are predominantly Chantenay Nantes crosses, Chantenay for it's high dry matter content and the Nantes types for their sweetness. This one is a Chantenay Corroda cross which should not only give it really good colour, it will give it a little more weight as well.
The second variety comes from the same breeder as Gringo and should have all the merits of that variety. None of the above varieties have as yet been named and we shall have to see whether or not the breeder will have enough interest in the commercial world to name it and therefore to continue with seed production.
There is though another variety that I shall be growing which certainly impressed me when I grew it for my Chelsea display last year. The variety is Adonis and is currently in my 2005 seed catalogue. When this variety was grown for Chelsea it was on a bench in a blue plastic drum sawn in half. The bottom third was filled with Levington M3, the middle was filled with M2 and then topped up with Levington F2S. Fifteen carrots were sown in each drum by simply making an indentation in the compost and covering the seed over with the same compost.
They had no show treatment as such, they were also grown in very close proximity to each other as I was really pushing for numbers without losing too much quality. Jim Thompson was one who had a go at Adonis last year and, like myself, found it to have a particularly good skin finish as well as a lovely bright colour. Jim however struggled to get any size on it and it may well be the case that we shall have to learn to grow it differently to Gringo, indeed it may well need more nutrients in the mixture.
I do believe that the best possible medium for growing the carrots in should be clean fresh sand and it was noticeable that in 2003 the top 12 inches of both beds had been removed and replaced with fresh concreting sand. I am not going to all that trouble and expense this year but I am going to remove about four inches from the top and then thoroughly mix in fresh sand with the remaining upper layer.