Carrots to Covet

comments (0) June 19th, 2013

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Antonio_Reis Antonio Reis, web producer
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Scarlet Nantes
Purple Haze
Click To Enlarge Photo: Antonio Reis

By Antonio Reis

Before you actually do it, growing carrots seems terrible - especially if you've listened to the tales of fellow gardeners, citing drainage woes and deformed crops. But what's a gardener to do once you've succeeded with the surefire "easy-to-grow" veggies and want to broaden the harvest to include delicious carrots? I was at that point a few years ago, so

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I decided to bite the bullet and buy as many types of carrot seed that I could find to trial. Each variety got one row, and to my surprise, many flourished. So before you say, "No, thank you" and stick to reliable crops you can watch grow aboveground, take a look at these tasty taproot champions that emerged as my favorites.





This is a classic carrot that will never let you down. The roots grow deep, forming almost perfectly tapered shoots. From germination (nearly 100 percent) to harvest, this was the strongest grower trialed. I've been told that the 'Danvers' harvest usually coincides with the time of year when carrot cakes start coming out of kitchens (70 days after sowing). In my experience, it is the best carrot to use in baked goods.



'Danvers' Photo: Antonio Reis 'Scarlet Nantes' Photo: Antonio Reis

'Scarlet Nantes'

All these seeds RSVP'd to the garden party and germinated, driving me close to tears while I was thinning them out. The seed-packet illustration promised hearty, thick, stump-ended carrots, but after waiting two months and pulling some up, I got big, conical taproots. This didn't make a bit of difference when the carrots were grated up for a cake or blended into a soup. A few months later, however, I found some 'Scarlet Nantes' hidden behind a grumpy cabbage. When I pulled, I found full-on stumps, true to the packet's promise. 'Scarlet Nantes' tastes great cooked or raw and is a must-sow for novices and pros alike. It matures in 65 to 75 days. 

'Purple Haze' Photo: Antonio Reis




'Purple Haze'

In case you hadn't guessed, this hybrid carrot develops a purple exterior. The hue is lost during cooking, so fresh eating and juicing harness its full Technicolor potential. I find the flavor a bit lacking when compared with the other carrots in this trial, but if you need to persuade children with picky palates to consume veggies, purple carrots might do the trick. You can expect to harvest these spears 73 days after sowing.






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