More Market Garden Experiments

As I covered previously, I’ve been taking some tips from market gardeners to see how helpful they are for home growers like me. I think it’s fair to say that as we get older we become set in our ways so trying out new ways of growing helps keep the brain young too!


The first tip I’d like to pass on is to be mindful. Don’t worry, I’m not turning into some sort of guru! I mean to really look at things you grow and learn from them. Try and figure why something has succeeded, what went wrong when things fail, how could you do something better and preferably with less effort.

I’d add a tip of my own, keep a diary and use it. That way you have a record of what you’ve sown and when, the weather etc. and can refer back to it when planning the next year.

Germinating Carrots in Hot Dry Weather

Carrot Bed Covered with Fleece

Carrot Bed Covered with Fleece

Carrots can be difficult to germinate in hot, dry weather. It’s not temperature that’s the problem, the optimum temperature for germinating carrots lies between 20º and 30ºC The difficulty lies in dryness. Carrots are small seeds that are sown shallowly so very vulnerable to the soil’s surface drying out. Even if they have enough moisture to germinate, seedlings are vulnerable too. In the wonderful hot, sunny weather we’ve been having, keeping things damp can involve watering 3 times a day or more to get the plants established. You only have to miss one watering to kill them off, easily done.

The solution the market gardeners have found is to put a cover over the bed. I’ve always used horticultural fleece to provide a warm environment for crops or to keep insect pests at bay but had never thought of using fleece to hold moisture in.

Having just sown the last carrots for the year, I’ll be able to judge how well it works in a couple of weeks time.

Spring Onions

The suggestion is to sow spring onions in modules and then to plant out the module which can have anything from 6 to 10 onions growing in it. Well, it works but it doesn’t seem to have worked well for me. The best spring onions I’ve grown this year were directly sown in a row.

It is quite useful when starting the season as you can germinate in a propagator at the optimum temperature of between 15ºC and 21ºC but once things have warmed up, direct sow either in a row or sow a pinch on station.

Bulb Onions from Seed

I always start my bulb onion seeds in modules. Thin down to one seedling per module and plant out at either 10 or 15 cm apart. The market gardener suggestion is to go for 3 or 4 seedlings per module and plant those modules further apart. The idea is that the bulbs will develop as normal albeit slightly smaller, pushing away from each other.

If your soil is really good and nutrient rich, it works well but the time saving isn’t great. I’ll probably stick with my previous method as you can control the bulb size by spacing and compensate for poorer soils.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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