I grow reasonable crops of most vegetables, but really struggle with carrots. Most sowings fail to germinate; and when they do, slugs eat them all leaving a row of tiny stalks! How can I remedy this? My garden is on heavy clay land.

Alan Beat: Carrots do best on light, free draining soil and as my land is also heavy clay, I’ve had to find solutions to the problems you describe.

Clay soils ‘cap’ when drying after rain or watering. Fine particles rise to the surface where they set hard on drying, forming a crust that carrot seedlings in particular struggle to push through. The best solution I’ve found is to sow fresh seed in shallow drills and cover lightly, not with soil, but with sand instead. Sand does not cap, so the carrot seedlings are able to emerge normally.

As a bonus, sand also deters slugs, but should damage remain unacceptably high, I’ve successfully protected a bed of carrot seedlings by surrounding it with offcuts of guttering set into the ground, lined with salt and sheltered with boards propped on stones to keep off the rain but allow entry to slugs. Yes, it was fiddly to set up, but very effective in a bad slug situation – and far better than no carrots!

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