We are still a bit away from sowing carrots around here, but I figured I would jump the gun and write a slightly more informative post about them (rather than just mentioning what varieties I am sowing).
In my backyard, I haven’t had amazing luck with carrots. They just don’t grow well for me here. My soil is likely too rich for them, and not loose enough.This leads to forked and ‘hairy’ carrots or tiny roots and really lush foliage. Since carrots are one of my very favourite vegetables, I need to work on being able to grow them better here. There is nothing better than a freshly pulled carrot. They taste amazing, and will ruin any future grocery store carrot purchases for you. The store bought ones will NEVER taste as good as a carrot from your own garden. Even the small, forked or hairy ones you pull yourself will taste better than the mass produced, mechanically harvested ones you buy in a bag.
Carrots are biennials. This means the first year they grow and store up energy in their root. The second year they will flower. So if you intend to save your own carrot seed, you will have to wait 2 years to do so. Carrots are closely related to Queen Anne’s Lace and produce big umbel flowers.
Click this link to the Carrot Museum to learn more about the history behind our modern carrots.
The best thing to do when selecting which carrots to grow is to learn about the different kinds so you can pick one (or more) to suit your growing conditions. Or just pick whichever ones call out to you and see what grows best.
Imperator– These are the long carrots that you typically see at the grocery store. These do best in a loose, deep soil because they are so long (typically about 10 inches).
- Growing in 2016- ‘Purple Haze F1’ and ‘Tendersweet Long Hybrid’
Nantes – These are basically cylindrical coming to a rounded tip. These were bred for sweetness and are a very popular choice with home gardeners.
- Growing in 2016- ‘Nantes Touchon’ and ‘Little Finger’
Danvers – (Usually) Shorter than Imperator types, these will work in a heavier soil because of that. They are a conical shape with rounded shoulders that taper to a point, and are resistant to cracking and splitting. These arose in Danvers, Massachusetts in 1871.
Chantenay – Best for heavy or shallow soil. These are shaped like ice cream cones. Wide, broad shoulders taper quickly to a blunt tip.
- Growing in 2016 – ‘Red Cored Chantenay’ (This pack of seeds is a bit older, so they may not have great germination, but I’m going to try them and see what happens.)
There are also some more “Speciality” types that don’t fall into the above classifications.
- Growing in 2016 – ‘Atlas’ (little round carrots. I love these!)
The main pests for Carrots are the Carrot Rust Fly and Wireworms, and any animals that think they will make a great dinner.
Carrots grow well with most other vegetables, but avoid planting them with dill, potatoes and parsnips. Carrots planted with tomatoes will apparently be sweeter, but stunted in growth.
Carrot Pictures from 2013 (The last year I grew amazing carrots):