There’s nothing wrong with everyday orange carrots – they have their own bright beauty. But since carrots now come in multiple colours of red, yellow, white and purple, why not dress up your table with a rainbow? Sow coloured carrots, which require the same growing conditions as the conventional orange ones.
Despite the fact that orange carrots were the only ones on the market and the menu until maybe a decade ago, carrots were once purple and some records suggest that white and maybe other colours were grown as well. According to the World Carrot Museum in the U.K., “The orange carrot, now so familiar, was once a novelty. In fact, this young upstart was first cultivated a little more than four hundred years ago. Until then, the purple variety was supreme… The colour took hold in Holland, it is argued, because of Dutch nationalism. This carrot, it is said, without documentary evidence, honored William of Orange and his House, because the orange variety was developed during his reign.”
Carrots are best sown from early spring through to early autumn. The soil temperature should be 8 C (46 F) or higher.
Preparing the Carrot Bed
• Sow carrots where they are to grow – they don’t like being transplanted.
• Loose, moist, fine, fertile soil is best so prepare the bed where it won’t bake in the summer. Break up clods and remove stones. Raised beds, no dig gardens or containers filled with a good potting mix are also suitable for growing carrots.
• You can add well rotted-compost and a sprinkle of organic fertilizer but not a trace of fresh manure. Fresh manure will result in forked roots and carrots with three legs lack aesthetic appeal as well as being difficult to prepare for the pot.
Sowing the Seed
• Make a shallow groove 1.5 cm (just over 1/2 in) deep and add the seed thinly. Some gardeners mix the seed with sand to make sowing easier.
• Fill in the groove, press down the soil gently and water it lightly, taking care not to dislodge the soil covering the seeds.
• The seedlings will take up to three weeks to show through. It’s a good idea to place a protective cover, such as wire netting, over the seed bed to prevent the neighborhood cats from scratching and spoiling your work.
• When the seedlings are about 5 cm (2.5 in) high, thin them to 2 cm (about 1 in) apart. Two weeks later thin them again to 8 – 10 cm (3 – 4 in) apart.
• Remember to keep your carrots watered. Mulching the young carrots helps to keep the soil moisture more even.
• Finally, cover carrot crowns as they push through the ground. If left they turn green and that part of the carrot has a bitter flavor.
There is nothing mysterious about growing carrots successfully. Plants have needs just as human beings and animals do. By knowing and understanding these needs you can meet them at the appropriate times, thereby keeping the plants healthy and saving yourself stress and extra work.
- Read more about carrots from The Carrot Museum