Famously named after the town in the Netherlands from where it originated, Carrot Berlicum is a long, cylindrical shaped, stump rooted type of carrot, suitable for maincrop production.
Appreciated by gourmet cooks and upscale markets alike, Berlicum is a very sweet early bunching carrot, similar to Nantes it produces beautiful smooth, rich orange-red roots with a small red core. It has good colour and texture, a high sugar content, fine carrot flavour and a crisp tenderness. With vigorous growth, the cylindrical stump-shaped roots, often reach up to 20cm (8in) in length in lighter soils.
Berlicum is suitable for early forcing in cold frames and for early cropping but is equally good when mature. It can be used for bunching, slicing and dicing from October and through the winter. The roots tend to stay tender and not get woody. Sow successionally from February to August for harvesting June to January.
Berlicum has stronger tops, is resistant to alternaria (carrot blight) and to splitting. It also has some autumn frost resistance and stores well. 65 days from sowing to maturity.
Carrots, like many other root vegetables, are highly prone to pesticide residue and other farm chemicals, especially nitrates. Therefore, it is wiser to shop organic or better still to grow them yourself. The flavour is vastly superior in the organically grown carrot, tasting like carrots should rather than "orange cardboard". Home grown carrots do not need peeling, a decided advantage since most of the nutrients lie just under the surface.
Prepare the site:
Success with root vegetables is very much down to the quality of the soil, so it’s worth taking the time to prepare your patch. Start digging over your soil in late winter or early spring, removing any stones you find and turn the soil until it has a fine, crumbly texture. If your soil is not ideally suitable, you can prepare a large container instead. Do not add manure as this makes the soil too rich for the seeds.
Sowing: Sow from February under cloches or fleece. Sow successionally until August.
Carrots sown in February in a cold frame/cloche are ready to harvest by June. Put the cloche in place a month before sowing as this helps to warm up the soil. Sow forced crop seeds at 2cm ( ¾in) intervals in 1cm ( ½in) deep drills (shallow furrows), 30cm (12in) between the rows and cover with soil.
Carrot seeds are small, but it’s wise to plant them as thinly as possible, 2cm ( ¾in) apart if you can. This reduces the amount of thinning necessary and potential risk from pests. You can mix the seeds with a handful of sharp sand and sow them together. Sand will also aid drainage.
Once the seedlings are showing their first rough leaves, thin out to 10cm (4in) apart which minimises competition and enables the carrots to grow quickly to harvest size.
Use a lightweight fleece over the bed to increase the temperature of the soil while also preventing the carrot flies from laying their eggs. The plants need little other attention during their growth period, although the plants should be kept well watered – too little water results in coarse, woody roots.
As the roots grow make sure the tops are covered with soil. This will stop the roots developing a green shoulder which tastes bitter.
Harvesting: 65 days to maturity. Harvest June to January.
Start pulling up your carrots as soon as they are big enough to eat. It’s best to harvest them in the evening to avoid attracting carrot fly. Late-sown carrots must be lifted by October to be stored over the winter.
Store only the best, undamaged roots, cut off their foliage and lay the roots between layers of sand in a strong box, ensuring that the roots do not touch. Store somewhere cool and dry, check the carrots occasionally, removing any odd rotten roots before they infect their neighbours. Carrot tops can be used in a variety of dishes, including raw in drinks or in salads.
Carrots are an excellent source of the deep yellow carotenoids that produce vitamin A. They are also a good source of magnesium, potassium, vitamins C and B complex, and a form of calcium that is easily absorbed by the body.
During the first five months of storage, carrots will actually increase their vitamin A content; and, if protected from heat or light, can hold their nutrient content for another two or three months
Carrots for container gardens:
While you can use containers of various depths to grow carrots, smaller varieties such as Chantenay are usually best.
Carrot fly is drawn to carrots by the smell of crushed foliage, reduce the risk of an attack by thinning plants in the evening on a still day, removing any thinnings and watering afterwards. Carrot fly are also low-flying insects: erecting a ‘wind-break’ style shield around a crop will also help deter these pests.
Carrots do well alongside most plants, especially Chives, Garlic, Rosemary and Sage (which deter Carrot Fly). However Dill, Coriander and other members of the Umbelliferae family should not be planted near carrots as they tend to cross pollinate which can be important if you are to save your own seed.
There is some truth in the old wives' tale that carrots help you to see in the dark since night blindness is one symptom of vitamin A deficiency.
In the Second World War, Early radar stations were established along the south and east coasts of England in 1939 to detect aggressors in the air or at sea. The Germans attributed this sudden, remarkable night vision to the British habit of eating carrots. They weren't so far off the mark since the vitamin A in carrots forms retinol, a lack of which brings on night blindness. An 80g portion supplies more than the RDA of vitamin A.
Carrots sown in February in a cold frame/cloche are ready to harvest by June. When using cloches put them in place a month before sowing as this helps to warm up the soil. Sow forced crop seeds in 2cm deep drills (shallow furrows), 15cm apart, preferably a bed prepared the previous autumn. Thin out plants to 10cm apart which minimises competition and enables the carrots to grow quickly to harvest size.
Later in Spring (March/April) sow seeds directly outdoors. Where possible, cover with garden fleece to speed germination and protect against carrot fly. Harvest in July/September.
These are sown in April/May and harvested in October/November. This time its drills 2cm deep but 30cm apart. Sow seed very thinly and cover with light soil. Thin seedlings out to 4cm apart. These carrots are particularly suitable for storage after harvest.
Late Main Crop:
These should be sown June/July and are ready for harvesting from December onwards. Late varieties are good for storing and produce large roots. Thin seedlings out to 4 to 5cm apart and avoid bruising the leaves when thinning as the smell can attract carrot fly.
Carrots can be cropped in succession through the year, allowing harvest from late spring through to late winter.
They are divided into categories depending on their shape and maturity.
These are the earliest to crop and produce narrow, cylindrical, stump-ended roots with smooth skins and small in size, ideal for forcing.
Similar shape to Amsterdam types, although longer and broader. Suitable for early crops, forcing as for Amsterdam types as well as for use as later crops.
Are short, broad and conical in shape. Suitable for containers and use as main crops for summer and autumn lifting.
These produce long, large roots. Suitable for main crops and great for winter use.
Autumn King Types:
Great for long season into winter, producing the longest tapered carrots on the market.
All of these types have been used as parent material in breeding F1 hybrids with mixed high quality characteristics. Also available are ball rooted cultivars as well as small baby varieties both of which are suitable for shallow soils and container raising where space is limited.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 2.5 grams Average Seed Count 2,000 Seeds Seeds per gram 800 seeds per gram Common Name Second Early & Maincrop
Family Apiaceae Genus Daucus Species carota ssp. sativus Cultivar Berlicum' Hardiness Hardy Biennial Time to Sow Sow successionally, February to August Harvest Harvest June to October Time to Harvest Matures in 110 days (15 to 16 weeks)