Advice: vegetables

Here is where we will add advice on growing vegetables either to eat or for show.

How to grow show-winning carrots
My first decision was to grow a variety called Sweet Candle, which is a stumpy variety with many wins at shows.
I put some holes in an old, straight-sided, metal dustbin, added a layer of stones and sharp grit to the base and filled the bin with horticultural sharp sand.
I watered the sand to settle it and used an offcut of drain pipe to push down into the sand, twist it and lift the pipe to remove a core of damp sand and fill the hole with a mixture of compost, sand and some nutrient. Add calcified seaweed for the micro-nutrients and a controlled release fertiliser that is low in nitrogen.
The specialists will have several bins with no more than three carrots in each but I always squeeze in 5-6 holes into just one bin and hope to find three good specimens for the show. Growing above ground also means warmer roots and better colour.carrot
Put three seeds in each spot and cover lightly with compost. I usually put the lid back on the bin as a further barrier to fly despite being above normal flight height, but fleece would be better. Once germinated remove spare seedlings to leave one per core. Water and perhaps give further light seaweed feeds during the season but keep the nutrient low. Add sand as the carrots develop to prevent greening of the tops.
A couple of days before show day carefully pull the carrots and rinse. Leave 10cm of foliage on the carrot and remove all the small root hairs to leave a smooth carrot with a stumpy end and one central root. With a sponge, wash the carrot in a circular motion and pay particular attention to the tops. Do not use a brush.
Select three carrots that are the most even in size and free of imperfections and wrap individually in a damp cloth. Leave in a cool place until ready to take to the show. I display on a black cloth to emphasize colour, and trim tops to 7.5cm at staging.
It isn’t hard and the difference in the results was amazing. They taste pretty good too!

 

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