Tag Archive | growing carrots

Batch Baking, Fixed Beds And Celeriac

Before I start I thought I would show you a couple of photos that I took yesterday out of the car window, whilst my husband was driving.  I think the display of daffodils that Leicester City Council planted a few years ago, really look beautiful this year.  I think the daffodils are the variety called ‘Tete-a-Tete’ and they look stunning planted all along the central reservation.

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Yesterday morning I did my usual weekend ‘batch baking’.  I love baking all in one go, as it saves me time during the week and energy as I cook things together.

This weekend I made fruit scones and weetabix chocolate brownies for lunch boxes and a chocolate cake for tea. I butter the scones before freezing them as it makes it easier in the mornings, as I just take a couple of scones out and pop them a lunch box.

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I also made a large pot of vegetable soup to take to the allotment with me in my flask.  I love having homemade soup with a homemade roll, sitting in the sunshine at my allotment watching all the birds and insects buzzing around….and it’s full of vitamins and cheap too.

My homemade soup has whatever I fancy from the freezer when I make it.  Yesterday’s soup has my homegrown swede, turnip, courgettes, runnerbeans, broadbeans, pumpkin and leeks in it.

I just fried the leek in a tablespoon of olive oil until it was soft and threw everything else in and just covered it all with vegetable stock and left it to simmer for thirty minutes.

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I then used my hand blender to ‘blitz’ it until it was smooth and divided it into portions which I froze when it had cooled down.

It really is an easy meal to make.

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At my allotment this weekend I noticed lots of ladybirds appearing.  In this particular clump of overgrown grass there were loads of them together, though the photograph actually only shows three.

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I have ‘fixed beds’ at my allotment, which just means I have paths either side of my beds so I don’t need to walk on them.  This makes it far easier for me to manage the soil, as I can just lightly ‘fork’ over my beds if I need to.

I chose not to have raised beds as I couldn’t afford the wood for raised beds (as I have four plots) and I would also need to buy in the top soil to fill them.

My top soil is nice and deep and I don’t think raised beds would be an advantage for me.  The only exception is my one raised bed that I use to grow my carrots in, as I can not grow carrots in my very heavy soil.  This one and only raised bed is made up each year of my homemade compost, leafmould and a bag of sand and this is the only way I have managed to grow carrots.

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So this week I have been busy finishing the weed suppressant paths that I talked about here and I have been ‘forking’ over this area ready for my legumes.

I think this area looks much better without the bricks holding the weed suppressant down and it will be lovely not to have the weed suppressant ‘fraying’ all over the place as it gets caught up in my fork, which is very annoying as it makes the job harder to do.

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There was one area that I had been treading on all winter, as I had put the prunings that I took from my plum tree late last summer there.  This wasn’t a wise move as it was really hard work forking the soil over, as it had all compacted and the water was slow to drain from this area.

  I thought I would show you the difference between the soil that I had trod on lots over the winter and the soil that I hadn’t trod on.  Both photos were taken when I had turned the soil over with my fork.  You can see the soil structure where I hadn’t walked, in the right hand photo. This was far better than the soil on the left hand photo, where I had walked.  So this is really enough proof to me that my ‘fixed’ beds do actually work.

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This weekend I had been transplanting some of my plants at the allotment.  I have divided my chysanthemums and planted them through my weed suppressant next to the boxes that I made last week to edge my plot:

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I have also been transplanting some of them to the outside of my woodland area, together with foxgloves that have self seeded around my plot.  Hopefully they will look lovely when they flower.

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And finally, I transplanted some Michaelmas daisys that had outgrown their spot, to the back of my plot around the Hazel trees which I coppiced this winter…

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…I do already have Lavatera and Buddlia growing at the back of the Hazel, so hopefully with the  Michaelmas daisys,   this area won’t look so bare whilist the Hazel is growing back.

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One last thing, I picked the last of my celeriac this weekend.  I don’t usually leave it in the ground overwinter, but I somehow over looked it….but I have got away with it as it has been so mild.  The celeraic does have one or two slug holes in, but I am really pleased with it overall.

So my next job is to freeze it this week.

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I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog today.

I will be back on Friday at my usual time.

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The Carrot Root Fly & A Rock Cake Tray Bake

When I studied ‘horticulture’ at college, we looked at various pests and diseases and one thing I learnt was if you ‘know your enemy’, then it is easier to avoid it altogether or make sure it doesn’t do too much damage.

Last year I looked at the life cycle and ways to avoid the allium leaf miner, slugs and codling moths.  Once you know the life cycle of a pest, it is easier to understand how you can avoid it.

Today I thought it would be fun to look at a problem that we all encounter when we grow carrots, the dreaded Carrot Root Fly.

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The symptoms:

Unfortunately I haven’t got a photograph to show you, but there is a really good photograph here.

When you are growing carrots, the first symptom of carrot root fly that you may see, is the foliage on older plants turning a red colour and having a stunted growth– but not always.  The first sign, unfortunately, can be when you lift the carrot out of the ground and you see brown, rusty tunnels just below the skin.  If you cut into the carrots, you may find the creamy, yellow maggot inside that causes the damage.  It is approximately 9mm long.

Carrots that are left in the ground a long time are susceptible to more damage, as the maggot will continue feeding over winter and move from carrot to carrot.  The carrots can also start to rot where the damage has occurred.

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The Life Cycle Of A Carrot Root Fly:

Usually there are two generations of carrot fly each year, but in some areas there may be three.  In April and May the first generation of adult females will lay their eggs in cracks in the soil near to members of the  ‘Umbelliferae’ family, which includes carrot, celery, dill, fennel, parsley, parsnip and celeriac.

The eggs will hatch after approximately one week and the larvae will start to feed on the carrot roots.  It takes approximately three months for the larvae to develop into mature adults.

So in July or August, the adult will mate and then lay their eggs and the life cycle will begin again.  Some of the larvae will emerge as adults in autumn, but some will overwinter in the carrot roots.

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Parsley

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How to avoid the Carrot Root Fly:

The carrot fly, flies low to the ground.  I have read many times that if you erect a barrier surrounding your carrots, approximately 60cm high and no more than one meter wide, the female won’t be able to fly in.  Unfortunately, I have learnt the hard way and I had still had a problem with carrot fly when I did this.  I can only assume that the wind blows the female fly over the barrier.

Below are some easy ways to avoid the pest:

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  • The easiest way I have found to avoid carrot root fly is to completely cover your crop with environmesh to stop the female fly from laying her eggs.

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  • Before the female carrot fly lays its eggs, it feeds on pollen and nectar.  Her favourite plant to feed from is cow parsley.  So when cow parsley starts to flower, you can safely assume that the first generation of the carrot root fly is around.  With this in mind, make sure you cover your carrots before the cow parsley starts to flower.

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  • The Carrot root fly is attracted by the smell of bruised roots.  Sow your carrot seed very thinly, so  you will not need to thin them.

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  • Make sure you don’t grow carrots in the same ground as the year before, as the larvae may still be in the soil when you sow your new carrots.

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  • Companion planting can help to stop the female smelling the host plants.  Growing plants with strong smells around your carrots can help e.g. onions, garlic, basil and marigolds etc.   From experience, I have found this is only partially effective and needs to be used with other methods of controls.
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Calendula

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  • You can use ‘nematodes’ to help with the problem, but personally I find them expensive to use.

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  • When sowing, use cultivars that are less susceptible to carrot root fly e.g. Fly Away’, or ‘Resistafly etc.  These varieties aren’t completely resistant, but they can be used with other methods to avoid the pest.

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  • Finally, choose the best time to sow your carrots to avoid the main egg laying period (see the life cycle).  Late sown carrots (after mid-May) avoid the first generation of this pest, similarly carrots harvested before late August avoid the second generation, but again this is best used with other methods of controls, as weather conditions dictate when the flies will be active.
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Celeriac

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I hope you have found the information useful.  I will put it all together with other subjects I have written about, in the link at the top of the top of my blog titled ‘Pests , Diseases, Weeds & Interesting Information’ .

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A Rock Cake Tray Bake

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If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I usually ‘batch bake’ at the weekend, ready for the week ahead.

Most weeks I bake bread and cakes and freeze them.  This way, they stay fresh for the week ahead, ready for packed lunches etc.

I made my daughters favourite this weekend, which is a chocolate brownie tray bake, which is easy to make and freezes really well.  You can find the recipe here.  I also made a tray bake that I haven’t made for a while, a ‘Rock Cake Tray bake’, which is also really nice:

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Rock Cake Tray Bake Recipe:

450g self-raising flour

200g soft margarine

100g granulated sugar

200g sultanas

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

50g Demerara sugar

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Preheat your oven Gas mark 6 / 400F / 200C

Rub the flour and margarine together until it resembles bread crumbs.

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Stir in the granulated sugar and sultanas.

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Stir in the eggs and milk until it is all combined.

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Press the mixture into a tin (approximately 23cm x 33cm) lined with greaseproof paper, using the back of a metal spoon.

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Sprinkle the demerara sugar over the top and lightly press it into the cake mixture.

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Bake for 30 minutes.

Cut into slices while it is still warm.

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Enjoy!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will back on Friday at approximately 4pm.