Grow Carrots in Containers
Carrots are a popular and versatile root vegetable, and have been grown in this country since they were introduced from Holland in the late 16th Century. They can be eaten raw, steamed or boiled and are tasty and nutritious, being a source of beta- carotene and Vitamin A.They are also high in fibre and low in calories. There are many varieties to choose from, including short carrots, baby carrots, Chinese carrots, and ones which are yellow and purple. Most gardeners choose the traditional orange and long variety as being the most suitable for growing in containers.
The advantages of growing carrots in containers are:
- Containers take up much less space than even a raised bed so are ideal if you do not have a large garden or much space generally.
- The carrots do not have to compete with soil pests and weeds, so many gardeners consider that they actually do better in containers.
- They grow smoothly and straightly as their growth is unimpeded by stones in the soil.
- Containers are an ideal solution if you live in an area with clay.
- The delicate and feathery green leaves also make it an attractive plant to have on a patio.
The best time of year to grow carrots, in the United Kingdom, is in the spring as they need at least 6 hours of sunlight a day to grow, so choose your location carefully.
How to sow the seeds:
- Potting compost is the best sort of soil to use. Any size or shape plant container will do as long as it has a depth of at least 8 inches.
- Prepare the potting compost by adding some fertiliser and then giving the soil plenty of water.
- Sow the seeds from April to June, in the same way as you would if sowing directly on the ground.
- Make small drills about 1/2 inch deep and sow the seeds thinly along the drills, with about 6 inches between the rows. If using a circular container, you could experiment by sowing the seeds in different shapes and patterns, such as a spiral.
- Cover the drills carefully with compost and water.
Make sure the seedlings do not dry out in the early stages, keep the soil moist at all times. This is the trickiest stage of the growing process. Once the young seedlings are about 1 inch tall , it is time to start thinning. The seedlings need to be regularly thinned, by removing the weakliest looking seedlings until the distance between the young plants is approximately 2 inches.
Most carrots take approximately three months to fully mature, but the young tender roots are the sweetest so they can be harvested throughout the summer. Gently pull the early roots up by hand as soon as they are big enough to eat. You could leave some to grow until October, for a mature carrot that can be stored over winter.
Growing Courgettes in Containers
Courgettes can be similarly grown in tubs. As they are one of the most prolific plants, it can be prudent and easier to buy established seedlings from a garden centre in the spring and plant them directly into well fertilised containers or into tomato grow-bags.
- Protect the plants from late frosts by keeping them in a greenhouse or by placing them under cloches or polythene bags.
- They are very thirsty plants, with a deep root system and require plenty of water and fertiliser.
- Interestingly, courgette flowers can be either male or female and bees are necessary to pollinate them, so in rainy, cold weather, with fewer bees around, the plants may remain unfertilised.
- When the courgettes are 4-6 inches long, they are ready to be harvested. Cut the fruits carefully with a knife, close to the stalk. Regular cutting ensures continuing production.