Growing carrots/parsnips in clay soil – Diary of a Rocket Gardener

If you’ve been reading my diary posts, you’ll know that I have been using the no-dig approach to growing your own. Essentially what this means is that I use a lot of compost to mulch a bed, rather than digging it over. The theory is that over time the soil structure recovers well and that there is no need to dig it over, even in the heaviest clay soil types.

However, I planted a strawberry patch in one raised bed, before I went no-dig. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve pulled them all up and relocated them to a bigger bed as they were bursting at the seams. This has left me with a raised bed that I have dug over. The clay soil is very heavy and lumpy, and not the kindest for growing veggies. Normally I would convert this bed to no-dig as well, but since I have a limited amount of compost this year, I want to conserve as much as I can. So I have come up with a new plan for this bed. I’ve been digging carrot and parsnip trenches:

  1. I dug over the bed, removing stones and breaking up as many of the big clumps as I could.
  2. I raked it well to get rid of big lumps from the surface.
  3. I dug 4 parallel trenches, running north to south, 30cm apart. They’re roughly 25cm deep, and 20cm wide.
  4. I filled them with compost ready for my carrots and parsnips

I think this is going to work really well – I know that many gardeners advise against growing carrots in “too much organic matter because it can cause forking” but I know from my no-dig gardening that carrots grow really well in compost, and as I understand from fellow no-diggers it is only when manure is used that has not been fully rotted yet that too much organic matter actually can cause a problem. (I’m no expert, these are just my understandings from my own experience) So I’m feeling positive and looking forward to planting my carrots and parsnips in a few weeks!