My favourite carrots
Each year I have some staple vegetables that I grow, and a mix of different coloured carrots is one of them. For many years I bought a seed packet called Harlequin that contained different coloured carrots, but then I found Runåbergs fröer that make their own organic mix.
The varieties they have in their mix are Maruschka (white), Jaune de Doubs (yellow), Early Nantes (red) and Autumn King (orange). The carrots can be sown any time after the frost has left the ground, but need at least +7 °C to start growing.
With such a warm summer this year I thought they should have grown really well right from the start, but they were quite temperamental and took their time. It is always difficult not to sow the seeds too close to each other, and then to have the patience to let them grow big before thinning out. It is a learning curve as sometimes I have thinned them out too early, and then suddenly the remaining seedlings throw a temper tantrum and die.
I always grow carrots together with onions and marigolds to keep away the dreaded carrot fly. So far it seems to work... In the other end of the same bed I grow beetroots as I practice a four year crop rotation system with root vegetables in the same raised bed.
Watering is perhaps the most important aspect of a happy crop. Carrot seeds hate it if the ground dries and gets a crust over it, so keeping it moist in the beginning is a must. Or at least moist enough as this years challenge proved to be...! With daytime temperatures of +26°C and constant sunshine I was really worried my spindly seedlings would never take. Happily, after a few weeks they did. Then, once they are growing well one must be careful not to over water as they develop cracks if they get too much of the good stuff.
Quite often I separate the colours when I harvest just for fun. As they give abundant crops there is enough to go around. Sometimes we boil and caramelise them, but often they get eaten raw before they have even made it to the dinner table!
With the carrot mix you never know what seeds will dominate, as it is almost impossible to get an even mix. I think this is the charm of it to me. This year the yellow carrots dominated the mix, but I actually like the red ones best. Such is gardening life, and I was quite pleased non the less as the yellow carrots were sweet and succulent.
Gardening should be a joyful and playful activity and eating the vegetables even more so. As I have always involved my family in both growing and cooking the food, it is perhaps no great surprise that all my children ate their vegetables as little kids and turned out vegan/ vegetarian as adults.