(Daucus carota) Carrots were first domesticated as a food crop in Central Asia in the 10th century. They were white, forked and hairy — nothing like the diverse range of colors, shapes and flavors we enjoy today, thanks to hundreds of years of breeding and refinement. Carrots suffer in extreme heat and they don't mind cool/cold weather, so it is wise to time your carrot planting successions around the most mild parts of the season (early-mid spring and again in late summer to mature in fall). Always direct sow your carrot seeds. They hate being disturbed or transplanted. Ideal germination temperature is between 50-80F, but you can sow carrot seed into cold soil, as they are not particularly frost sensitive. Sow seeds in bands close together and thin to 1.5-2 inches apart. Seeds do not tolerate drying out, so be sure to lightly cover them with very fine soil and keep them misted or gently watered as it is easy to blast the small seeds out of place. Surface sow spring carrots three weeks before the last frost date and every two weeks after that. Fall carrots should be sown 75 days before the first expected frost. It’s best to double dig the carrot bed and amend with well-composted manure, as carrots require light and fluffy soil. If you have very heavy, clay soils, try to amend as best you can or grow in raised beds. If you must grow in tight soil, be sure to choose short or round varieties like Parisienne or Oxheart.
75 days. One of the most darkest (and antioxidant rich) carrots we have seen, with an incredibly deep purple color, and the roots are sweet, finely flavored with hints of wild berry taste in their flavor. This superfood treasure was originally selected and improved from some traditional carrots found in a market in northern India, and by selecting for the darkest roots, this variety is now one of the blackest carrots available from skin to core. This fine carrot is delicious raw or cooked! It’s also used as a dye, and it makes a stunning dark purple juice; when a squeeze of lemon is added, it turns bright pink. Amazingly, it retains its color after cooking and is incredibly high in anthocyanins and a 100 gram serving provides more than half of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C. If left in the garden, it makes an exquisite white, flower umbel that is tinged with lavender. A supremely sweet and heat-tolerant carrot.
A resilient, multi-colored, old French heirloom variety still popular among home gardeners. It is an early and very adaptable carrot that can be planted outside from March until July. Do not be fooled by its name “longue” as it is in fact a half-long conical carrot and with a very firm texture that helps with conservation. Amazingly, it will keep its colors after cooking. Its flavor is consistently sweet with a good carrot flavor.
The best-tasting orange carrot we have tried, New Kuroda is sugary sweet and the texture is ultra-fine grained. An improvement on the famous Japanese Kuroda type carrot, the roots have a blunt tip and vibrant orange color. This refined root will please even the most discerning palates, but don’t let the silky soft texture fool you — this is a hardy breed. The roots can power through tough soil and blistering heat, producing winning roots under even the most brutal conditions. This Japanese heirloom was bred to withstand tropical heat and therefore is the top spring- or summer-grown variety that we have seen. This incredibly hardy variety thrives in cool weather as well and is ideal for Fall planting also. This may be the best carrot we have tried, period!
Best grown in the fall! This tasty and nutritious red variety from India is extra rich in antioxidants -- very high in beta carotene and lycopene. Red carrots have been cultivated in India since antiquity, where they are used in a range of recipes, especially in jams and chutneys. Lycopene is an antioxidant that is most nutritionally effective when cooked with a fat; consequently many traditional red carrot recipes combine red carrot with oils or fats. Great for juicing!