How to grow carrots – for beginners

Carrots_in_close_upCarrots as a main crop are well worth growing. They can be temperamental, but once you get the hang of it you can grow all the family needs for six months of the year. Carrots are not a posh crop like asparagus or melon, but the flavour when they come straight out of the garden and are on the plate within half an hour cannot be beaten by anything in the supermarket.

They can be planted between March and June for harvesting from July to April Overwintering is easy either by lifting and storing, or as I do, leaving them in the ground where they will keep best with little or no protection.

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Formal pond in the vegetable garden

Finished_Pond_2013

The centre piece of my vegetable garden is this formal pond, which was started in 2012. It’s overall size is about 6′ x 11′, but this is an illusion as it is actually two ponds, with the bridge covering the dry land between the two. Each pond is created from a rigid fibreglass preformed pond liner.

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Paving the Potager

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We took advantage of the  fine weather over Easter to begin paving the paths around the raised oak vegetable beds. This had always been part of the original plan but as the gardens are almost entirely DIY we can only undertake a certain amount each year.

These paths are pretty much the final part of the vegetable garden construction. We are very pleased with the effect, and are sure you will agree that they have transformed the area creating a really classy feel. Getting rid of the grass paths has also removed the awkward chore of mowing around hundreds of feet of raised bed edges. At last the paths are dry and comfortable underfoot!

Materials

We are using Freshfield Lane clay pavors. They are a bit easier to lay than bricks – For one thing they are solid (i.e. don’t have a frog) so bed down firmly on the compacted sharp sand, and, unlike bricks, they are pretty well exactly twice as long as they are wide, allowing them to be laid in neater patterns. Being brick (clay) they are a bit more expensive than concrete pavors, but they look a million times better!

I’ll add to the slide show above as we make progress…

 Related Post

The Greenhouse Path – this post shows the simple method we use for laying our brick paths.

Gallery

Click below to see close-ups of the work…

Raised beds

Raised beds do not need to be simple rectangles!

Raised beds
I use raised beds in many parts of the gardens here at Rosemary Cottage. They serve both practical and aesthetic functions, and when designed well with good materials they are relatively quick to construct, durable and easy to maintain or even dismantle if a complete re-design should ever be wanted.

Neat rows of lettuce and salad leaves.

Why use raised beds?
Raised beds give definition to a growing area, outlining the bed and frame the plants. In winter they can give stucture to the garden even when the soil is bare. On a more practical note, you can work them without walking on them – good for the soil and good for keeping your boots clean. Tall sides help prevent soil from spreading onto the path when you dig. The soil in raised beds is often raised above the surrounding ground level, improving drainage and bringing the plants closer to the eye. This in turn reduces the amount of bending needed when working. Deep beds do not need to be filled to the brim with soil, however, as there are benefits to leaving a good space between the soil and top of the boards so you can add compost, mulch or manure, without it tumbling onto the paths. In my vegetable garden this gap is enough to allow young seedlings to develop with shelter from the wind, and I have made a number of netted ‘lids’ which lie across the top of the beds to protect young plants and keeping cats and birds off.

Raised beds can prevent soil spreading onto paths when digging.

A final and important aspect of raised beds is that they help you organise maintenance into manageable chunks. Weeding, tidying or clearing a single bed provides a clear start and end point.

Planning for paths
In my gardens raised beds double as path edging. I like dry-laid, permeable hard landscaping, because it is quicker and less messy to lay, can be lifted and relaid or repaired easily, and drains freely. Raised beds with paths is therefore a great combination providing design flexibility and simple DIY practicality. It can look very good too. Compacted gravel can provide an ideal path in this situation as it is cheap and easily fills any shaped gap between beds. Dry-laid bricks or paviors look great, but are more expensive, and you may have to do a lot of cuttingto fit uneven gaps between beds.

Brick paviors dry-laid between oak raised beds in the Woodland Garden