Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Favorite Heirloom Carrots (so far) to Grow from Seed: Parisienne

A Handful of Freshly Harvested Baby Carrots on July 11th, 2009

Realization of the Day:
I never shared the final results of last year's carrot growing adventures (which I wrote about here and here)—mostly because they were so disappointing.

The short version (because I'll probably never get around to posting the long version) is I've decided that, for me, growing carrots from seed isn't worth the effort—at least right now. I did learn a lot about growing them, though.

We eat a lot of raw organic carrots around here, and the ones I can buy year round for less than a dollar a pound actually taste better than most of the carrots I managed to grow last year—which was a surprising discovery since most homegrown vegetables taste so much better than storebought.

Granted, they're packaged in annoying plastic bags and are grown in some other state and then trucked to Missouri, but there's always a give and take when it comes to what we choose to buy and eat. We raise so much of our own food that I don't feel too bad about buying bagged carrots, and at least they're organically grown.

That said, I haven't completely given up on homegrown carrots. And when I do try them again (who knows, maybe even this fall—I have huge plans for a fall garden since at this point the spring garden is pretty pathetic), I'll definitely be growing Parisiennes.

Parisienne Carrots Harvested from the Kitchen Garden September 2009
I'm a Sucker for Cute—and not Just Baby Animals

I bought my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and according to their catalog, Parisiennes (which they offered for the first time in 2009) are small, round carrots that are so popular in France. Tender, orange globes are superb lightly steamed. Easy to grow even in heavy soils. This little carrot is great for home and market gardens, as this variety is fairly uniform.

Mine had a nice, sweet flavor, and of course there's the fact that they're adorable. They make a fun addition to a crudite platter, and would probably be a big hit with kids. Someday I'll get around to making pickled carrots, and I bet these little babies would be perfect. Wouldn't a jar of them make a beautiful gift?

The Pinetree Garden Seeds catalog lists a similar sounding variety of carrot called Thumbelina SG:

A round Paris Market-type carrot, Thumbelina was an All America Award winner for 1992. It's an improvement over older round varieties in the smoothness of the skin (important because you don't want to peel them). Another virtue is that they will do well in heavy, rocky soil. The flavor is very good at the 1-inch size but is retained up to golf ball size.

Because they're so small, they also have a shorter growing season than many other carrot varieties, which is always helpful.

So how about you? Did your carrot crop do well last year? Are you growing carrots this year? Any successes, failures, or other words of carrot wisdom to share?

Related posts (lots of helpful info in the comments sections):
Recipe: Carrot Herb Rolls (and a beautiful bargain bread book for beginners)

More posts about some of my favorite things to grow:
Favorite Heirloom Tomatoes to Grow—Mine and Yours
Growing Onions in the Garden
Growing Onions from Purchased Plants—Ordering and Planning
Growing Short Day Onion Varieties from Purchased Plants
Harvesting Spring Onions Grown from Purchased Plants
Endive and Escarole in the Kitchen and Garden
Growing Lemon Cucumbers from Seed
Miniature White Cucumbers: An Easy To Grow Favorite from Seed

How to Grow Beets from Seed (and here's my favorite beet recipe)
How To Grow Swiss Chard from Seed and Why You Should (and recipes)
How To Grow Your Own Gourmet Lettuce from Seed (It's easy!)
Freckles Lettuce: Another Easy to Grow from Seed Heirloom Favorite
How To Grow Arugula from Seed in Less than a Month
How To Grow Nero di Toscana Cabbage (also called Tuscan Kale, Cavalo Nero, Lacinato Kale, Dinosaur Kale) from Seed and What to Do with It
How To Grow Asian Greens for Fall by Direct Seeding
Tips for Growing & Using Rosemary Year Round

© 2010 FarmgirlFare.com, the crunch and munch foodie farm blog where our donkeys love organic carrots even more than we do—and can gobble up a pound of them in seconds flat.


  1. Most of my summer carrots looked like yours - small (mine due to a lack of sun). But I over wintered them and they got nice and big - but alas, I got the dreaded carrot rust fly. I posted a photo here: http://gardentherapy.ca/how-to-grow-carrots/ along with a great post from another gardener who grows fab carrots!

  2. we grew a garden for the first time last year, and opted for boring, regular nantes and imperator carrots, plus a purple variety, just from the local hardward store. they grew really well, 9-12 inches, and quite tasty. the purple ones were gorgeous. only problem was we didn't have a good place to store them, so some went rotten, and i hated to waste so much of our first harvest. into the compost they went. i think we'll do a mix of nantes type carrots this year... that's my carrot story. not so much wisdom, as we've only got one year's worth of experience to share! LOL

  3. I've had mixed results growing carrots over the last few years. For some reason, they seem to grow a LOT slower than I would have expected. Anyway, these Parisienne carrots sound interesting - might give them a go next year.

  4. Carrots usually get planted as an afterthought on the border of our garden. Then I am stepping on them all summer long as I reach in to harvest other veg. This year I am going to try to do it differently. Plan where I plant them and scatter the seed over a square instead of planting in a row. Hopefully they will thrive better.

  5. I live in Central Missouri! My kids LOVE carrots and we've just always wanted to pull our very own carrot out of the ground. Last year I planted (using seed tape I made from strips of TP/elmer's glue) carrots in a washtub I have outside. Its kind of shaded in the afternoons. After they were up I scattered some zinnia seeds in there to provide some further protection. I kind of forgot about them but around fall, I found under the dying zinna's lots of beautiful carrots! I'm doing that again this year. Probably an accident that they worked but I think the key was bagged soil and some compost added instead of using our heavy Missouri clay dirt!

  6. I grew these last year. They tasted wonderful! I didnt grow any this year. I have to do my gardening in containers and like more bang for my buck than one seed, one carrot. If I ever had the space though I would grow them again.

  7. We had exactly ONE carrot from last year's planting.

    Found it last week when I was weeding. It was growing in the pathway, instead of in the garden bed.

    This is what you get when there's a cat who loves that sunny patch where you just planted all your seeds. :)

  8. My limited memory of growing carrots reminds me they need a blast of cold weather to make them sweet - maybe your fall planting/harvest will be better.

  9. I live near Iowa City, IA, where I have had a garden for two years. My first year, the carrots did not do well. I chalked it up to the ground being packed from never having been a garden. Last year, my carrots thrived! I was able to make lots of baby food for my little girl, and I blanched and froze quite a few to use in soups, roasts, and what not through the winter. Unfortunately, I do not know what type I planted (bad record keeper), but I don't feel like I did anything special besides water when planted, thinned well once they sprouted to a decent size, and then left alone until harvest. Best of luck with your fall garden. I would like to have one as well, but with two little ones running around, I'm doing good to have a summer garden!

  10. While I would love to give up on carrots my husband is drivin by this crazy "that carrot isn't going to break me!" kind of mind set...so alas we have carrots again this year. Love your blog...if you get a chance to stop by ours I would be tickled pink! (glennfamilygardens.blospot.com)

  11. I just love your blog. I'm new to vegetable gardening having moved to the country just two years ago. This is our first year planting carrots and only our second year gardening. My two kids eat about 3 pounds of carrots a week so it seemed like something we should add to the garden repertoire. It sounds like we will need a lot of luck!!! outinthemsticks.blogspot.com

  12. Never tried heirloom carrots. Will have to give those a try.

  13. I'm so glad you left the dirt on the carrots in the first photo. I think the smell of good soil and ripe carrots is delicious. I hope you find a variety that reliably out-taste-tests the store bought version!

  14. could be your soil. My father CAN NOT grow carrots out of a hundred seed he may have 2 come up I have a friend that is the same way. I on the other hand Have great luck with carrots.

  15. Two weeks ago I planted imperator carrots and nothing has peaked up through the soil yet. I'm a bit worried, however, the past few days have been cooler with lots of rain, so *fingers crossed*.

  16. I just pulled up my first carrot. The greens were about 6 or so inches long, and the carrot was about 1 inch. (This is my first year gardening and the leaves from my zucchini plant cut off all sunlight to my carrots.

  17. Growing your own is not that much work so I would prefer to grow my own over buying them in the store any day.

    Most varieties taste different maybe you should try growing some other variety. For example I found that my atomic red are much stronger in taste than the "normal" orange ones and the solar yellow was much milder.

  18. Love your garden blog! I'm growing some carrots too...first time! :)


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