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How to thin out carrots

You will need

  • Newly-sown row of carrots
  • Horticultural fleece
  • To make a protective frame: horticultural fleece or polythene sheeting, lengths of pressure-treated timber approximately 25mm x 35mm
  • To make a box around your carrot bed: hammer and nails, stapler
Do it: May - July

Overview

Carrots need space to develop fully so, once germinated, go over your rows of carrots and pick out the weakest-looking vegetable seedlings to leave a 2cm - 4cm space around remaining seedlings. If you're very careful in extracting the seedling from the row, you could try transplanting it into a new row and watering it in well to help it establish itself again. Repeat the thinning in three to four weeks. Carrot root fly is always a threat to your carrots, and never more so at thinning out time, so be ready to cover them with horticultural fleece - or make a frame for permanent protection.


How to do it

Removing young carrot seedling by hand

1

Water carrot seedlings well before thinning. This will allow you to pull them out without breaking the roots, the smell of which attracts carrot root fly. Simply grip the seedling to be removed between thumb and forefinger and pull. Aim to leave seedlings at 2cm - 4cm spacings. Cover with horticultural fleece to ward off carrot root fly.


Small carrots removed by thinning

2

After three to four weeks, repeat the thinning procedure to leave the seedling at a spacing of 4cm - 8cm apart. This second thinning usually produces tiny carrots that can be trimmed for use in salads or as a garnish.


Thinning carrots inside a protective frame

3

Further guard against carrot root fly getting the scent from your thinning, by surrounding the crop with a 45cm high solid barrier. The adult insects only fly below this height. Make a box frame in lengths of timber big enough to surround your carrot bed or rows, and staple or pin horticultural fleece or polythene to it.


Adam's tip

To reduce the need for thinning, mix carrot seed with dry silver sand when making initial sowings, so you can see exactly how far apart you're sowing the seed.

If you don't mind small carrots, make just one thinning to leave seedlings 4cm apart.




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