In the last variety spotlight, we talked about onions, which, if you’re in the northern latitudes, should all be seeded in the early spring. This month, we’ll look at carrots, which lend themselves to several seedings, or succession plantings, all season long for a continuous harvest.
The unseasonably warm weather along much of the east coast and through the mid-west in March caused the grower in us to jump to attention, only to be lulled (somewhat) back into winter slumber by the colder (more seasonal) temperatures that followed. Mother Nature, it seemed, had stomped on the accelerator of spring, fast-forwarding us into July temperatures and heralding the feeling that we have to get to plantingseedingtillingweeding right now. The phones in our sales office rang off the hook that week. A veggie farmer near us tilled fields and talked of sowing beets and carrots. Then, Mother Nature eased up and took the scenic route to summer and we’re back to covering the greens in our high tunnel with double row cover to protect them from nighttime temperatures in the teens.
Meanwhile, the northwest received unusually heavy late season snow and California experienced a drier than normal winter.
Swings like these, outside seasonal norms, seem to point to the fact that growing food will require greater and greater resiliency. By offering varieties with proven performance in organic systems, we hope that we can offer an advantage towards the success of your growing operation.
Yaya F1 Carrot – Paul Betz, HMS sales rep, owner of High Ledge Farm, and contributor to this blog, likes to start his season by planting Yaya F1 carrots. At 60 days to maturity, this variety is quick to mature and makes a great early season, fresh market carrot. Yaya F1 is well adapted to different planting densities – at closer spacing it will yield smaller, earlier ‘juvie’ carrots (not quite baby, but still young and tender) with good orange color and a filled out shape. At a normal planting density of 1.5-2”, Yaya F1 will form excellent bunching or fresh market carrots. At a wider planting density (roughly 3-4”), Yaya F1 will bulk up without splitting and yield good sized soup grade carrots with a uniform barrel shape. (Check out our Yaya VIDEO)
Negovia F1 Carrot - For summer plantings, stick with Yaya F1 if you wish – it shows good performance in all seasonal slots – or shift your planting to Negovia F1 which was a stand-out for flavor, sweetness and texture in our summer carrot trials. Negovia F1 has stronger, more vigorous tops than our early season varieties. This will help maintain quality bunches, even when carrot leaf blights may start to set in.
Necoras F1 Carrot – In the fall, you’ll want to plant a variety that stores well. We trialed a number of carrot varieties seeking an organic standard to compare to Bolero F1 and found Necoras F1 to be top-notch. Necoras F1 is an excellent keeper that will work well for winter markets or your own root cellar. (Check out our Necoras VIDEO)
Finally, put a little COLOR in your life with a rainbow selection:
White Satin F1 Carrot and Yellowstone Carrot both impressed us with their solid, uniform shape and a sweet flavor. These varieties are eye-catching and unique, but they can also hold their own against more standard carrot criteria. White Satin F1 is a great variety to grow for juicing since its juice can be blended with the juice of other fruits without influencing the color.
Cosmic Purple Carrot and Atomic Red Carrot round out the color wheel with their universe-al appeal. Their super hero names are fun to share with your customers or your kids. “Atomic Red carrots – they’re a blast!” or “Comic Purple carrots are out of this world!” And their unique color isn’t just good for silly wordplay – it also adds nutritional variety to the carrot’s repertoire. Atomic Red, in particular, is high in the anti-oxidant lycopene.