Carrots Grown in Barrels

Today was absolutely lovely. A bright blue sky with fluffy white clouds scudding across. The only sounds, apart from the birds calling and the occasional bleat of the sheep over the rustling of the breeze in the trees, were that of the fighter jets screaming around the countryside, hedge hopping over the hills and the throbbing of the search and rescue helicopter  practising to rescue downed pilots or holidaymakers attempting to cross the Atlantic on a lilo.

Oh well, you can’t have everything and if the Taliban ever invade the village down the road, we can rest assured they’ll be bombed into paradise before they can shout God is Great!

We were out for much of the day but on our return I nipped up to the veg plot to get some carrots. Now it’s quite ironic that having a whole field to play with, the only successes in our first year are things grown in containers.

The carrots are being grown in slices taken from some plastic barrels, about 12 to 18 inches high and 24″ diameter. The containers have upturned sods in the base and are then filled with a mixture of about two thirds multi-purpose compost and one third sharp sand.

The seeds were then just scattered thinly over the top and a light dusting of compost scattered over to cover. Apart from watering a couple of times, they’ve not had anything done to them. Normally I would thin out a few weeks after the fern started to show but I didn’t get around to it.

Each barrel slice had a different variety of carrots and today I harvested the French variety Touchon. From the one container I got just over 3.5Kg of carrots. If I bought these as ‘organic’ carrots they’d have cost me around a fiver. Take off  25p for the seeds (One packet would easily cover 10 times the area) and a pound for the compost and sand (which will be reused anyway) and we’re still into a healthy profit.

Patio Planter

Patio Planter

Now I’m not growing as a business, but it goes to show that even on a ‘cheap’ staple vegetable you can save a lot of money by growing your own. That’s without even thinking of the lack of ‘food miles’ and carbon footprints.

Each barrel slice has about 3 square feet of area, which is hardly anything. Even the smallest garden has room for a couple of large pots. Using a patio planter stand like this one from Harrod Horticulture that my daughter uses on her small patio you can make a significant contribution to your food supply. So long as the chickens don’t get onto the patio, that is!

If you don’t fancy paying out for purpose made racking, then I suppose you could knock something up from scrap wood to hold some pots and troughs. Incidentally, rather than pay a fortune for large pots, ask in supermarkets that sell flowers if they have any of the pots they come in for sale. A few minutes drilling holes in the base and you’ve some good large plant pots.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
8 comments on “Carrots Grown in Barrels
  1. Su says:

    I only grow carrots in containers. The dreaded fly doesn ‘t get them then. Also better for my back! A neighbour at the allotment uses an old bin and gets fantastic crops! Have been eyeing up my plastic bin and wondering if it’s time we had a new one.

  2. Will Jackson says:

    The only way I’ve found to avoid the fly here in Leamington is to grow my carrots from start to finish under 30 gsm fleece. Even then we get some of the blighters in the last of the crop. Fleece lighter than this doesn’t last very long and the heavy stuff looks like it will do 2-3 seasons. I’m on laughably light sandy soil with only rainwater for irrigation so the fleece helps there, too, in conserving moisture. Only drawback is the speed the weeds grow, but at least they’re easy to pull out
    Good crunching

  3. I also only grow carrots in containers as I have a terrible problem with fly otherwise.

    Don’t know the cost of that patio planter but I built one earlier this year from timber and angle iron I had lying around, all of which was scrounged from somewhere or other. Total cost £2.99 for a packet of hex bolts to hold it together.

  4. Baz says:


    I know you’ve used barrels for a while to grow carrots, have you found it totally eliminates attack from carrot fly due to the height?


    • John says:

      @Baz: I don’t think it actually helps much against carrot fly, fleecing is still essential to keep the fly away. I know they’re only supposed to fly low but nobody has told the flies about that!

      We’re lucky here – high up so the strong winds have blown what few there may be away and nobody growing carrots nearby.

  5. paul hanley says:

    hi on our site in yorkshire we got big fly problems ( ive been growing 4 yrs and been devastated every yr) the young lassie on the next plot had some enviro mesh draped over water pipe and hers were untouched roots even fleece didnt keep the blighters off mine.

  6. Ann Ingham says:

    I am going to try and grow some carrots in tubs. I want to try the method of using sharp sand and taking some out with a 3″ pipe then filling the hole with compost but… can I find anyone who sells 3″ diameter pipe! I have tried homebase, screw fix, and B & Q all to no avail. I can get 2″ & 4″ but not 3″”. I have tried the 4″ but the sand falls out of the tube. Any suggestions?

    • John Harrison says:

      Hi Ann – put the pipes in place in the barrel and then fill up the barrel with sand. Put the compost into the pipes and then remove the pipes.
      Job done – no problem 🙂

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