How to Grow a Heavy Carrot

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Grow a record breaking carrot

The Carrot Museum has never attempted to grow record breaking carrots. The advice given below is based on, personal experience and common sense and some information from people who do grow giants. Current world record - Heaviest - 22 pounds 7 oz (10.17 kg) - September 2017 - Chris Qualley, Minnesota, USA

 Advice from the Giant Veg people here  All Carrot world records here.

world record heavy carrot chris qualleyYou should always "dig in" any giant vegetable plot deep with lots of organic matter, take extra care over feeding, watering and pest control and, if showing, harvest at the very last moment for freshness. Fill a 6in-wide 4 foot long drainpipe with clean fine sand. (Always be optimistic). Make a hole in the sand with a long pole and fill it with good peaty potting compost. Sow three seeds in the compost and thin to the best one when they have germinated. Water from the top for the first two months and thereafter from the bottom to encourage the roots to seek out moisture. At harvest time wash out as much sand as possible using a hosepipe before very gently pulling up the carrot. If you pull too hard you may damage the root. '  It is important you buy one of the "giant/jumbo" varieties, and that the seeds are fresh. (photo left Chris Qualley, World Record holder)

Carrot plants thrive in deep, loose, well-drained soil. Avoid stony, cloddy or rubble-laden soils as they increase the incidence of root defects. Because raised-beds usually have loose soil and receive little compaction from foot traffic, they are an ideal location to grow carrots. Carrots grown on heavy soils may produce considerable leaf growth and forked roots. Carrot plants do not grow well in strongly acid soils; therefore, a pH range of 6.0 to 6.8 should be maintained for best results.

Soil temperature can be critical for successful carrots. At temperatures below 5 ºC they will struggle to germinate. Slightly higher temperatures and they could take up to 35 days to start. If you wait until the soil is 10 ºC germination will occur within ten days. Basically if the soil is chilly to touch do not plant. Curiously even within a variety a carrot's colour and shape can vary according to the type of soil and commencement temperature. Lower temperatures give yellower carrots and reduced size and shape. Just beware about fertiliser, if you prepare using good fresh manure, make sure it is well rotted, six months old.

To seriously compete with the seasoned giant vegetable growers, you’ll need to put considerable effort into your soil, your choice of site and your gardening technique. But to get you started having some fun growing giant sized vegetables, here are 6 easy steps toward success.

1. Choose the Right Seed This is the most important step, because some varieties simply grow larger than others. Serious giant growers will often seek out rare seeds to grow. You can start your own giant lineage but remember to steer clear of hybrids if you plan to save seeds.

The name usually gives it away. Search the seed catalogues for carrot varieties which include the words “giant” or “jumbo”. The Flakkee variety and its variations is always a big carrot root as is Autumn King.

2. Give them a Healthy Start Beef up the soil your plants will be growing in before you even plant. Spread some manure or compost the autumn (fall) prior planting. If you’re serious about competing, you should have a complete soil test done and replenish any nutrients and micro-nutrients that might be lacking.

Giant vegetables tend to grow in quick spurts, so they need lots of food. Slow acting organic fertilizers added at planting time will ensure that the food is there when the plant needs it. It will also make for a healthier soil and less pest problems.

3. Water Giant carrots are not as tolerant of sporadic watering as the common garden vegetable would be - and even the common vegetable is touchy about not getting its one-inch per week. Your plants need regular water, they don’t want to sit in wet soil.

4. Thin Out If seedlings are competing for nutrients, they’re never going to be giants. So prune or pinch out all but about three of the largest, healthiest looking. Later in the season, you might want to thin down to just one, but keep a couple of extras at the beginning for insurance.

5. Keep Close Watch for Problems Pests, diseases and cultural problems can move in quickly and ruin an entire crop, so check your plants daily and correct any problems immediately.

Now comes the hard part. You have to be patient. Look but don’t touch. Too much fussing with your plants is as bad as too little. Let them do what they do and just enjoy watching them grow.

6. Get Advice - Growing giant produce is a competitive sport – and many record-holding gardeners approach it like an Olympic event. Some experienced Goliath-raisers guard their secrets; others share their wisdom and expertise. If you find yourself addicted to growing giant vegetables, talk with the competitors at your local vegetable shows.

Some will be coy, but many are very open and generous with their knowledge. They’ll know who has the best seed and will be happy to discuss technique with you. Keep an eye on the main website for this sort of activity, where there are also some growing guides – Giant Veg here.

Read about growing a long carrot here.

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