Carrots can be tricky to grow. We have failed quite a few times. Our soil is full of stones and on top of that we have raised beds made up mostly of well rotted cow manure. This combination is great for most of our crops but the carrots do not like it one bit.
We decided to try a different approach this year. A friend gave us a metal frame for an old table. We started by cleaning it up with a wire brush and painting it with metal paint.
When it was dry we screwed on an old piece of thick plywood to act as a base and added six sawn upright pieces of 4”by 2” left over from other building projects.
Our local builder’s merchant let us have some broken pallets for free and we used the wood from them to build up the sides. It is good to use screws in favour of nails for all the joining together in this project. This is because the wood is old and splinters easily. We then painted the outside of our carrot box with paint for garden wood projects. We drenched the whole inside and bottom with linseed oil to make the box more durable.
It was then time to put our box into position and start filling it. We added a leg at each corner to distribute the weight and make the whole box more stable. We are fortunate enough to have a stream running through our garden and it always deposits lots of sand along certain parts of the bottom. We dig it up by the barrow-load and more sand quickly fills its place. We used this sand as our main growing medium, adding some store-bought multipurpose compost as well. Before putting the mix in, we lined the whole box with an old plastic table cloth to protect the wood from too much moisture. It is important to drill drainage holes in the bottom through the board and the plastic.We hope this will be a successful growing medium for our carrots. It is totally stone free and about 45 cm deep so should give the carrots enough room to grow. As it consists of mainly sand it should have just enough nutrients for the carrots to thrive. We wanted to try a few different colours of carrots as the usual orange ones can be bought very cheaply around here, even organic, so there would not be much point in growing them.
We decided to grow Purple Sun, Atomic Red and yellow, Jaune De Doubs. We actually put in some orange Nantes as well, as friends had given us a packet of handy seed tape with all the seeds evenly spaced.
As there will be no competition from weeds or other plants we put the rows of carrots in very close together. We aimed for an almost continuous spacing all across the surface. We might have to pull a few carrots out early on to get a good spacing but we are planning to leave as many as possible to mature into nice big crunchy roots.
Here you can see carrot and broccoli inspecting the newly planted box and in the last couple of photos, the small carrot seedlings, about ten days after planting. Now only time can tell if we will get a good multicoloured harvest of carrots. A great advantage of building a raised box like this is that the carrot fly has real problems flying high enough to get into it. Hope fully we will not get any visits at all. We will keep you informed about the outcome later in the season.