ABOUT THE PLANT
Description: A highly nutritious, deep purple-colored carrot with an interior flesh of either dark purple, orange, or yellow. The flavor is sweet and subtly peppery, the texture crisp. It is a Danvers type, a classic medium-length carrot with rounded shoulders and pointed ends growing to about 6-7 inches long. Ready to harvest in about 70 days.
Origin: Originated in what is now Afghanistan
Usage: Eat fresh as a snack, in salads, or juiced. Delicious when cooked by steaming, boiling, roasting, or baking. Used in any dish calling for carrots. The tops can be used fresh in salads or to make a pesto.
Interesting facts: The original carrots cultivated for food around the 10th century AD were purple and white. Purple carrots derive their color from anthocyanin, a terrific antioxidant. Purple carrots contain twice the amount of alpha and beta carotene as orange carrots.
HOW TO GROW
General requirements: These relatively long and straight carrots need to be grown in deep, loose, sandy loamy soil enriched with compost or rotted manure. Otherwise, the roots will be deformed if they are struggling through heavy rocky soil. A soil pH of 6 to 7 is ideal. Keep the soil uniformly moist, but not soggy. Carrots are not drought tolerant. Have your garden and/or containers where they will be in full sun for at least 6 hours a day. Add mulch to the top layer of soil to help regulate temperature, retain moisture, and deter weeds. The ideal temperature for carrots is between 60- and 70°F.
In the garden: Make a row as a raised mound about 8” wide and a few inches high. Sow the seeds 1-2 weeks before the last frost about 1/8” deep and 1-2 inches apart. Cover lightly. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Sow more seeds every 3-4 weeks for a consistent harvest. Warmer climates may be limited by sowing fall crops as carrots cannot tolerate excessive heat. When seedlings are 2″ tall, carefully thin them to 3-4" apart. To thin, snip the unwanted plants with scissors rather than pulling as the carrots remaining do not want their roots disturbed. About 5-6 weeks after sowing, apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer and add more mulch to the top layer of soil to help regulate temperature, retain moisture, and deter weeds. Germination will take 10-21 days.
In containers: Direct seed into a container at least 10 inches deep and wide any time of the year. Use potting soil with perlite added to obtain looser soil. While indoors, place in a sunny window. Move it outside when the temperature is between 50°F-75°F. About 5-6 weeks after sowing, apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer and add mulch to the top layer of soil to help regulate temperature and retain moisture.
Transplanting: Transplanting is not recommended as carrots do not tolerate their roots being disturbed. If they survive, they will be malformed.
Roots: Carrots may be dug any time after they have reached their desired size. Before harvesting, soak the ground to make the carrots easier to pull, or use a garden fork to dig them up.
Tops: Harvest the tops when you pull the carrots. They should be bright green and dense, and about 8 to 10 inches long.
Seeds: Carrots are biennial, meaning they flower in the 2nd year. So, it is a 2-year process. Overwinter at least 5 plants in the garden, but you will need at least 10-12 weeks of temperatures that are consistently below 59°F. The following spring, fresh growth will sprout from the tops of your carrots, and a flower stalk will develop in 4-6 weeks. An umbrella-shaped cluster will form covered with tiny blooms with the added benefit of attracting beneficial pollinators. By summer, these umbels dry out and turn brown. To harvest the seeds, cut the dry umbels with scissors and allow them to dry further in a bowl or tray in a well-ventilated area. When dry and brittle, rub them between your fingers to loosen the seeds from the flower head. Separate the seeds from the chaff by picking through the pile. Store them in paper envelopes or any small container in a cool dark place.
Common name: Purple carrot
Latin name: Daucus carota
Life cycle: Biennial, but grown as an annual
USDA Zones: 3-12
Seeds per ounce: Approximately 21,000