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Got a bed without manure and I want to know the best / most efficient method to sieve the soil in  a 14 foot x 4 foot bed which only has a one foot  foot path around it

I have a sieve but need a tried and tested method

John Harding

A way I was shown many years ago saves doing the entire bed and is good for Carrots and Parsnips. Get a long steel rod or pipe about 19-25mm (3/4-1") dia and push it into the soil to a depth greater than you want the root to grow to. Then work it in a circle to create a conical hole and sieve the soil into the hole for the plant to grow in. Repeat for each position and sow about 3 seeds in the centre of each station and after germination thin out to leave the strongest / most vigorous seedling. Yes, it's laborious but you do make sure there are no stones where the plants will grow to cause them to deform and it does save all the work of digging the entire bed to a depth. Also leaving some stones in the bed helps drainage, particularly if you have a heavy clay soil. Carrots do like a sandy loam so if your soil is clay try adding some horticultural sand in with the mix, but avoid fresh manure as that will cause the roots to fork.


Thank you John

I live in Brizzle so we are neighbours

Sounds like a good plan especially as I would want to rotate what I plant in the same bed next season

Carrots sound like a challenge so im up for it


I have done the steel rod method advocated by John.   I called it my "crowbar" carrots.  Did it years ago as an experiment.  Deep holes were made and a mixture of sieved soil, compost and blood fish and bone were poured into them.  Two seeds per station. Then one removed after germination.  

I had great fun when harvesting them.  If people were about I would go to my crowbar carrots and simply pull one out of the ground (they came easily). They were huge.  They were just as tasty.  They weren't those long thin roots you see from those competition growers.....they were long, full edible carrots.  My remark when pulling was "oh, it's just a small one" as I dangled my giant carrot. 

So, Newboy, ??ou could do this too for fun and for food.  Your worries about "forking" carrots etc would disappear.  But more work though than simply sowing carrot seed.  I would miss out on my baby carrot thinnings though too.


As thinning is supposed to attract carrot fly, does growing carrots by the crowbar method , with minimal thinning , result in less damage  by fly?


John Harding

Hi Verdun,  I thought about including the Fish Blood & Bone but realised you had already suggested that in an earlier post - I tend to use the same if the bed is a bit devoid of humus. FB&B is a slow release fertiliser which is just what carrots need - and yes, you are right in that using the crowbar method you do lose out on the delicious thinnings but I did learn the hard way many years ago - brought the thinnings into the house for OH to use in the kitchen and a couple of day later on coming home from work noticed all the carrots had gone from the bed! I hadn't fully explained that they were 'thinnings' and she had gathered the entire crop and we had eaten them! OH said they weren't worth growing as the shop bought ones were much bigger!!!!



John Harding

I grow my veg in raised beds that are about 18" off ground level so as carrot fly are normally much closer to the ground I seem to escape them. Last year's crop however was a disaster as Vine Weevil grubs just kept chewing the roots off shortly after germination. Scrapped them and grew Dwarf beans in their place which were very successful, Then tried some winter spinach and the Vine Weevil grub problem returned with a vengeance: however, following advice on this forum I bought Nemasys Vine Weevil treatment and, albeit mid November, using a soil warming cable with Nemasys nematodes, - problem cured!

Hiya fidget.  Yes my crowbar carrots were free from carrot fly.

I may grow them again this year....just a row.  

I grew carrots for the first time on my new allotment this yr. They were interesting to say the least. They were tiny weird shape tasted ok but what a giggle at the dinner table.

I'll know how to plant them this year.

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