How do you grow Carrots and Parsnips Successfully?


Carrots and Parsnips
Carrots (everything about carrots) and parsnips are long standing favorites in the kitchen but have you ever wondered how to grow them yourself in the garden? This short guide will tell you all the basics you need to know about growing these tasty vegetables for yourself. You might just be surprised at your results.

Step 1 : Ground preparation: In order for these vegetables to grow successfully they must be planted in a well prepared bed. The ground should be dug in the autumn prior to planting and any stones should be removed. For both carrots and parsnips, the soil should be deep, sandy and fertile. The soil should not have had compost or manure added to it in the previous year as this can cause the roots to split. Two weeks before planting, rake the soil over and add in a general purpose fertilizer.

Step 2 : Planting: For long root carrots, sow the seeds between mid April and early June. This crop will be ready for harvest in September and October. For mid and short root varieties choose a sheltered spot in late March to early April, these will be ready in July. Sow carrots thinly in rows six inches apart and half an inch deep. Sow Parsnips in early March for harvesting in January-February of the following year. Sow seeds three at a time, six inches apart in rows at a depth of half an inch.

Step 3 : Crop Care: The carrots need to be thinned when they are big enough to be handled. Plants should be two-three inches apart after thinning. Thin the parsnips down to one plant when they are big enough, discard the thinned plants as they do not transplant well. Parsnips need little attention while growing as they are a hardy crop rarely attacked by pests. While plants are young, use a how to keep weeds down, this is not recommended after the plants are more established as their foliage should keep weeds down. Remove stubborn weeds by hand. Watering will be necessary if there is a period of drought and you shouldn't let the soil dry our completely. A downpour after a dry spell will cause the roots to split; this applies to both carrots and parsnips.

Step 4 : Harvesting: Small carrots can be pulled up when required from June onwards. If the soil is hard, ease the crop out with a fork. The bulk of the crop will be harvestable from October. Use a fork to lift the roots, discard or use straight away, any roots that are broken or damaged. To store the carrots, cut the foliage off to about half inch above the crowns and place in layers in a sand filled box. Do not let the roots touch while storing. The crop will keep until March. Parsnips are ready to be harvested when the foliage begins to die down in the autumn. It has been claimed that the roots taste better after the first frost. Lift the crop as required, leave the reminder in the soil for later use. It is a great idea to store some in the same way as carrots by November, the way, if the ground is covered in snow you'll still have parsnips available for use. All the remaining parsnips should have been lifted and stored by February.

Common Troubles: Carrots are not considered easy to grow and there are numerous problems you can get with the crop. If your soil is heavy and sticky then long straight carrots are considered impossible to grow. The answer here is to choose a short rooted variety however; this won't help with the infamous carrot fly. No variety is resistant and there is no single control method that can be relied on. The best option is to use a combination of methods, including my favorite: using a fine net to help defend the young plants. Parsnips are much hardier and the only common problem they can get is canker, which is easily solvable by choosing a resistant variety such as White Gem.

These two vegetables are relatively simple to grow and with a bit of care and attention can make a brilliant addition to any vegetable growers kitchen. I wish you all the best with your future endeavors and hope you have found this guide useful.

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Written by : Debbie Rushby, Hull, UK (BA Hons English 2:1)

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice