Saturday, June 13, 2009

Garden Journal 6/13/09: Bigger Red and Orange Baby Carrots

More Carrot Thinning—St. Valery and Atomic Reds

Realization of the Day:
The Atomic Red carrots are orange inside!

I'm a little disappointed, but maybe that's just when they're young, since the Pinetree Garden Seeds catalog describes both the surface and flesh as brilliant red. Red is good because not only is it beautiful, but it also means the carrots are full of the antioxidant lycopene—the one you always hear about in connection with tomatoes.

I'm also growing an heirloom variety of carrots from 1929 called Red Cored Chantenay which, according to my seed catalogs, are supposed to be short and fat (about 5½ inches long) with a very appealing shiny orange color, smooth skin and a deep red-orange center. I'd really like to see that gorgeous red both inside and out!

Slowly but surely I'm getting my carrot bed thinned. I'm also keeping it covered with floating row cover 24/7 (because if I take it off during the day I'll probably forget to put it back on at night) as protection against the deer since they munched down all the Swiss chard in the bed (thanks so much for sharing your deer deterring suggestions!). I know I'd said the other day that they didn't eat any of the carrots, but a closer inspection that afternoon revealed that they had indeed nibbled on some of the tops. I'm not taking any chances.

After purposely keeping my hand out of this photo I realized that I should have kept it in, since it's a little hard to tell just what size the carrots are. These are the biggest ones I picked, and most are 2 to 3 inches long. There were also plenty of itty bitty ones in the Atomic Red row since it hadn't been thinned at all yet and was really crowded.

If you can't stand the thought of simply tossing your tiny carrot thinnings into the compost pile or feeding them to the chickens (most of mine snubbed their beaks at the tops, though the rapidly growing chicks will eat anything) and are willing to invest a few extra minutes, I think it's worth doing a 'light' thinning just to make sure they have at least a little growing room, and then going back through again when the babies have had a chance to get bigger. You can see what a size difference two weeks made.

Coming up, though, I'll be sharing a reader's tip for how to sow your carrot seeds so that no thinning is required. Cute babies or not, I'm definitely going to try it.

Have you ever grown (or eaten) red carrots? Were they red all the way through?

© Copyright 2009, the crazy about carrots foodie farm blog where these little babies were almost too cute to eat. Almost.


  1. You need to do a taste comparison. It would be interesting to see if there is any difference in taste or texture.

  2. I've never grown red carrots, but we use them at the restaurant. While the skin is beautifully red, the interior is more like a deep, brilliant orange. So after it's been peeled, it is "redder" than an orange carrot, but not quite as red as the skin would lead you to believe!

  3. I love carrots! I grow orange and red ones and I do think the red ones taste different and not the same. Well, just not as carrot-y! But they are awfully tasty nonetheless and do have that nutritional advantage.

    What did you think of the flavor?

  4. My rabbits love, love, love the carrot tops!

  5. I've never grown red carrots, however, the ones I brought at the farmer's market had red peels but were orange on the inside.

    I was disappointed.

  6. I just finished thinning mine and we ate the larger ones stir-fried with some of my pea pods. I'm growing a little round ball carrot this year. I'm quite pleased with it. I think I am going to make another planting. It will be interesting to see how it does. I've never heard of the red ones. Thanks for sharing,

  7. I've had the atomic carrots (I think that was the variety) and they have been red. Not beet-red of course, but a deep orange-red that is quite different than the usual orange. Have you grown purple carrots? Those are truly purple inside.

  8. My carrots should, according to the date, be mature next week. However, though the tops are getting bigger by the day, the ones I've thinned are barely anything at all. They're pencil-lead thin or a bit bigger. Is it just not enough water, or something else?

  9. I did grow red carrots last year, and they were red all the way through. It freaked me out though, cause I canned them and then forgot I had red ones in there...I got a jar out and started to cook them and I was like, "Oh my god...what happened to these carrots? They went bad!....Oh yeah, they are supposed to be red." I have red ones in this year, along with Oxhearts, which are an heirloom variety that grow up to a pound and are very short and fat. I keep the bunnies out with cut up garlic and baby powder on the seedlings.

  10. I have never seen red carrots, though I am trying my hand at growing nantes carrots for the first time this year. How often and when do you need to start thinning them out?

    I understand that the tops of carrots can be used as a soup green, I've never done it, but I have a farmer's market cookbook that uses the carrot tops.

  11. I have some red carrot seeds, but they've been tough to germinate. I have a friend who received purple carrots from her local community garden, and she said they were fantastic! My own carrots weren't very happy this year- they were all leggy and didn't get very long. I think my soil was too tough for them!

  12. I am looking forward to your tips. I have tried a number of methods (my favorite being the glue seeds on newspaper method. I am not having that much luck in the carrot department but I believe it has more to do with pests than sowing. Much carrot envy here, enjoy them!!

  13. I have tried red carrots from the store and they were actually bitter. My favorite carrots are yellow carrots--the ones I've had have been extra sweet with a crisper and more juicy texture than the orange. You should try those next year!

  14. According to a seed catalogue description I read, the atomic carrots "turn a deep blood-red when cooked, and become sweeter." I'd be interested to know if this is true! Thanks for the lovely farm stories and photos.

  15. I am growing some red carrots this year for the first time, and am really excited looking at yours which are fabulous.

    Do tell if they taste any different! I will let you know when we do our taste test later in the year, but I have to say so far we only have little tiny shoots.

  16. I grew orange carrots and when pulling them I ran across a red one and was afraid I needed my soil tested lol. I wasn't aware of the red ones. Mine was red all the way through and it had a mild carrot taste. I wish I had more because they would add lots of color to a salad.


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