Exhibition Stump and Long Carrot growing attempt

 

                                                                            

  

 Well,after last year's mixed fortunes in my first exhibition growing attempt : fantastic Stump Rooted ones but very disappointing long ones,I am yet again going to have a go.

        exhibition show carrot         

These were my winning specemins in the Stump Rooted class but the Long ones never did get anywhere due to me growing them in pipes rather than in sand like you're supposed to.

                            

So I'm aiming for something similar to these in the Long class.

The Start.

Jan 13th

Well,It all starts here.

I thought I'd get a head start and sieve my compost in good time as it is a pretty tedious task.

                     

This year I decided to make myself an industrial sized riddle.

I cut the bottom out of a Supermarket delivery crate and fixed a panel of 6mm galvanized mesh over the hole.

                     

Compared to last year which took me almost a whole day using a tiny little sieve, combined with compost which seemed to be about 90% twigs,this year it was a breeze and it only took about an hour.

                          

Like last year I just used bog standard multipurpose compost,this year however I used B&Q stuff which seems to be far superior and finer than last years stuff as I only sieved out about 20 litres of lumps.

It's also pretty high in peat content which won't please all the tree-huggers out there but it does make for better compost,as opposed to the recycled household waste based stuff which seems to have around 25% crisp packets,cat litter and broken glass in the mixture.

So that's about 150 litres of fine sieved compost done,which when mixed with all the sand and vermiculite will be around 200 litres of mix,which is more than enough for me.

Jan 27th.

Not much going on but I did manage to fill my sand boxes with washed concreting sand.

It took over a tonne to fill them and these are only big enough to grow around 18 in each.

But anyway this was a real pain in the arse of a job barrowing a tonne of sand across the wet muddy field,so I'm glad I've got it done.

                   

So this is the place where it will all happen,or not.

March 13th

Well,I decided to get the tedious job of mixing the Carrot growing mix done.

The mix I am using is exactly the same as last year even though many top growers steer well clear of any topsoil,as far as I'm concerned,If it aint broke dont fix it.

This is what I use.

4 parts sieved multipurpose compost.
1 part fine vermiculite
1 part sand
1 part sieved top soil.

then to each 20 litres I add

2oz finely ground Vitax Q4
1oz ground limestone
1oz calcified seaweed ground up
1oz seaweed meal.

                         

I managed to get a 100litre bag of extremely fine 2mm vermiculite which should be better than the coarse stuff,and the sand is just builders sand.

                         

Luckily I had enough of the ground ingredients left over from last year as It really stinks when you grind Vitax up in a blender.

I used a big container and mixed all the ingredients all by hand,then added the fertilizer and the other powdered ingredients and mixed again by hand,then shut the lid and gave it a really good shake for a few minutes in 20 litre batches for a final thorough mix to make sure everything was well mixed up.

                  

So after about an hour this is the result,120 litres of the mixture.A good job done !

March 14th

Well,a rare sunny day so I decided to get the holes bored and filled with the mix in good time.

Ist to do the stump rooted ones.

                         

I use a 3" drain pipe and push this into the watered sand to the required depth then remove the plug of sand and using a sturdy wooden pole or crow bar make the hole a little deeper.

                          

Then using a homemade funnel just add the carrot mixture.

I set these holes at 6" centres like I did last year with cracking results.

Next onto the long carrots.

                                                      

This was much harder and required a few attempts to get the hole to the required depth.

                         

Then as for the stump carrots fill the holes with the mix after deepening them with the pole.

These were set at 8" centres.

                  

So that's all the hard work done.

24 stump root stations and 15 long carrot ones.

I'll just cover these for a couple of weeks before I start to sow in early April.

April 2nd.

Well,today was time to bite the bullet and sow the seed.

                  

I simply make slight impression about 5mm deep in the centre of the boreholes and then place about 4-5 seeds into each and just cover with some compost,again just shallow about 5mm.

                         

I'm sowing so many to each station as last years germination,especially with the long carrots was particularly poor,and if more than one germinate then you just remove the weeker seedlings.

The stump carrot ones once again seem to be coated in some kind of blue stuff which aids germination and helps with damping off apparently.

So now it's just a matter of hoping we get some warmer weather to get them sprouting.

April 21st.

WAHEY !!! Germination.

                         

Quite a few of the Stump rooted carrots have germinated and even a few of the Long ones which took an age last year.

May 1st.

Wahey !! I've finally managed 100% germination on the stump rooted carrots after watering them every evening for the last 3 weeeks and only 2 of the Long carrots have failed to sprout so far.

                   

So hopefully I might manage to get some decent Long 'uns this year.

May 6th.

Amazingly I now have 100% germination on both the stump candles and the long ones too.

                    exhibition carrot seedlings

So shortly It'll be time to bite the bullet and thin down to just 1 per station.

Last year I just pulled the weaker ones out following the advice of Smithyveg and it worked perfectly,so 'll do the same again in a week or so.

May 22nd.

Well I decided to thin all the stump rooted carrots down to one per station as they'd started to grow their 2nd set of true leaves.

                   carrot thinning

The long ones won't need much thinning though as in most cases only 1 or 2 germinated in each spot.

June 2nd.

Well,the carrots are doing really well above ground so far.

But I do have a bit of a problem.

                   

As you can see I somehow have got some bloody Mares Tail growing in amongst the stumps.

This is a really invasive weed and has forced it's way up through 2 ft of sand until I noticed it.

                   

So all I can try is to carefully paint concentrated Glyphosate onto the emerging leaves using a brush and hope this'll kill it off.

                   

But other than that,they're doing really well so far .

June 12th.

Well,the application,carefully, of Glyphosate seems to have done the trick and killed off the dreaded Mares Tail.

                  

The stump rooted Carrots are really flying along but nearly got battered to death in the Gales the other day.

                   

I have had one casualty though which was snapped over at the base and wilted so I decided to pull it up.

                                         

And I was amazed at the length of the thing,almost a foot long already in June !!

So hopefully if they fill out they might be as good as last year.

June 25th.

Well,there's always something that comes along and ballses it up.

                         

Things were going great guns until I noticed a few of the carrots with discoloured looking central new leaves.

Don't know whether its a virus or even the dreaded Carrot fly.

I've sprayed them all with Provado Systemic Bug stuff like last year (Wish I'd done it last week !!!) so we'll see what happens.

July 17th.

Well,I'm still having a few problems regarding the mystery disease which has affected the odd carrot.

                   

The unaffected ones are growing away well though.

                                      

I pulled up one of the stunted Long Carrots with the brown dried shrivelled leaves and as you can see the tap root is a good 3 ft long so hopefully the healthy ones should be pretty good if the carrots fill out a bit.........hopefully.

August 6th.

Well, after a rat decided to nibble the top of a few of the already pest troubled stump carrots I had to try and keep it out by surrounding the box in mesh.

                  

That was really annoying.

                  

I decided to pull another slightly gnawed carrot to see how they were going.

                  

As you can see the length is fine getting on for about 10-11" and as the compost is being pushed up at the top of the box this is a sure sign that the stump end is forming.

So if the remaining 12 keep growing then I should get a reasonable set if I'm as lucky as last year.

Anyway the long carrots seem to be growing well with no rodent damage so It'll be interesting to see how long they are at my 1st show in 4 weeks time.

Sept 4-15th.

Well I was trully amazed with the long carrots after pulling them and couldn't have hoped for better.

 

I won 1st prize at both the shows I went to with them plus the longest carrot.

And the Stump carrots were as good as last year winning me the Best In Show Medal at our local show.

                                      

So that was 2010 now onto 2011.

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That's everything that's gone on this week folks,thanks a lot for taking a look.

I'll do my best to keep the weekly updates coming,thanks.

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