I know that the first rule of successful experiments is to reduce the number of variables, but I think this one scrapes in as phase one of a longer term test of two canonical chunks of gardening wisdom. the two statements are:
- You must never plant carrots into newly manured ground because they will fork.
- You must always prepare the ground deeply to get long roots – so we’re testing Charles Dowding’s ‘no-dig’ method.
There’s a third subsidiary aim which is to test the claims made on behalf of ‘Early Nantes Frubund’ carrots that they can be sown successfully in August and September . Will they give an early crop? We shall see.
We’ve got two cold frames set end to end on a patch of ground that has never been dug, only mulched for about eight months with a thick layer of cardboard covered with 4″ woodchip. So I took out the woodchip and disovered that the cardboard had pretty much disappeared. Then I simply added about 4″ of two types of compost, one in each frame. I was testing composted farmyard manure in one, and Sylva Grow peat free compost in the other. In the photos the Sylva Grow is on the left. Then I sowed the same seed on the same day (14th August) in both sides along with some winter lettuce grown in coir plugs. Since then they have been treated identically with the roof lights added in October when near frosts were experienced.
What I’m hoping to establish is the relative merits of the two mediums, whether the carrots can penetrate the undisturbed surface layer of the soil substrate, and finally whether there’s any more forking in the roots grown in composted manure. The early results are pretty clear, germination was quicker and early growth more plentiful in the composted manure. The other tests will have to wait until the spring, but if the no dig methos is successful we’ll implement it on a wider scale.