Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Carrots - All Shapes and Colours!

I grow literally hundreds of carrots annually, in every colour of the rainbow, all shapes and sizes. The entire family loves them! Fresh, steamed or roasted, I have never yet grown too many!

I tend to grow carrots in blocks rather than rows, so that I can grow more of them per square foot of garden space. However, occasionally do rows for the look, depending on what suits my mood for that bed... on that day ; )  

For fresh from the ground carrots throughout (most of) the year, seed a block or a row every few weeks from April through till early July. Add a new block or a few extra rows when you lift your cool weather crops in June, the radishes, broccoli and cilantro that bolt in the heat!

Carrots, and other root crops, store well in the garden here on the island, no need to lift till you need them. If we have a hard winter, just cover with several inches of straw or mulch to keep the tops from freezing.

Carrots come in so many colours, from white to yellow, orange, pink/red, and purple, too. The taste varies a bit with the colour, so grow a few of each and see which ones become your favourites!

There are four main types of carrots, classed by root shape ... 

Chantenay carrots

Chantenay - This heirloom type is my absolute personal fave. I simply love the shape and flavour. No need to peel, just pick, rinse, and eat!

Chantenays are short and stubby, very wide at the top, tapering to a rounded blunt end. They have great strong foliage (bunny food ;)

The Red Cored Chantenay is an heirloom from the early 1900's, great for fresh eating and juicing, and I love it best for roasting.

Danvers Half Long 

Danvers - This carrot is longer than the Chantenay but has a similar cone shape, with good wide shoulders that taper down to a pointy end.

Danvers are the best variety to grow if you have heavy, or less than ideal, soil. Fantastic for fresh eating, canning, freezing. Stores really well.

Danvers Half Long and Danvers 126 are both heirloom varieties from the 1870's.

Atomic Red Imperator Carrots

Imperator- This carrot has a regal sounding name, and looks so fab, too! Has good, strong foliage, with roots that are long and slender, tapering to a pointy tip. This carrot is the one you see most often in grocery store shelves as it ships well, is strong and sturdy, and stores well, too.

You need good, deep, friable, and somewhat sandy soil to grow these carrots, as they will happily grow 10 to 12 inches long in the right conditions.

I really enjoy growing these long straight carrots! Feel so accomplished when I lift these babies out of the ground ; )

The Red Atomic is my fave Imperator type, but the orange ones are equally fabulous. The most well known ones are Imperator and Tendersweet, and I have one called King Midas at the shop this year, also.

Nantes carrots! 
Pic from

Nantes types - This is the most popular carrot for home gardeners. They are easy to grow, tolerant of poor soils, store well, and grow well. They tend to be about 6 or 7 inches long.

So many carrots fall into the Nantes category. Bolero, Scarlet, Napa, Yaya, Touchon, Purple Dragon, Cosmic Purple, and many of the colourful blends.  

There is also another type, the Round or Ball carrot. They are a very popular market variety in France.

Eat them fresh, no need to peel, or lightly steamed. Great for poor rocky soils, container gardens, or shallow garden beds.

Often called Parisienne, Paris Market, or French Round.

Ruby Tuesday loves her carrots

Lifting the last of the over-wintered carrots

Happy Growing! 

Moving Thyme

Sadly, the Nitty Gritty Potager blog is no more... but the good news is that I can now be found at my new blog called the Olde Thyme F...