Carrots Come in Many Colors
1st some facts about Carrots
Carrots have a number of excellent health benefits, including:
- Healthy vision
- Brain and nervous system health
- Liver protection
- Protection against heart disease and stroke
- Promotion of healthy bones
One serving of Orange carrots (one medium carrot or one-half cup chopped) will provide about 210% of the average daily recommended allowance (RDA) of Vitamin A. The high Vitamin A content, for which carrots are best known, comes from beta-carotene, which is converted into Vitamin A in the liver.
The body cannot manufacture beta-carotene, so we have to get it from our diet, and carrots contain some of the highest levels of beta-carotene of any vegetable.
A single serving will also give you 10% of the RDA of Vitamin K, 6% of Vitamin C and 2% of calcium.
That said, different colored carrots will provide us with different sets of nutrients as follows:
- Red carrots will be higher in lycopene and beta-carotene pigment, linked to a lower risk of certain cancers, including prostate cancer.
- Yellow contain high amounts of xanthophyll and lutein, associated with cancer prevention and eye health.
- White or pale-yellow carrots tend to be milder, with high fiber content
- Purple carrots contain higher amounts of anthocyanin, beta- and alpha-carotenes, and have a sweeter and sometimes peppery flavor
Carrots Come in Many Colors
One benefit of growing your own carrots is that you can grow varieties you will never see in a grocery store.
Carrots actually come in a number of different colors and shapes, from light yellow to deep purple.
As noted by GrowVeg.com:”Different colors of carrot originate from different parts of the world. Each color has its own history and particular health benefits … Purple carrots, for example, hail from the Middle East and Turkey and are rich in anthocyanins which are known to guard against heart disease.
Red carrots originate from China and India. Chock full of lycopene, these roots can reduce the risk of macular degeneration, so while they may not help you see in the dark they’re certainly good news for eye health.
Carrots that are yellow originate from the Middle East and are just as good for the eyes. They contain [lutein] and xanthophyll that minimize the risk of hardening of the arteries while potentially preventing lung and other cancers … [B]y growing a mixture of varieties you’ll be increasing the odds of keeping yourself in exceptionally fine fettle.”
Popular Carrot Varieties
Carrots are a joy to grow in your garden, as they’re delicious right out of the ground. If vegetables are unpopular with your kids, grow some carrots and watch them change their mind once they start pulling these sweet snacks out of the dirt.
Depending on the variety you sow, you can grow them in Spring and Fall, into early Winter.
The following carrot varieties tend to be popular among gardeners. You can also buy premixed blends that will give you a mixture of different colors.
Examples include Rainbow, Cosmic Color and Harlequin blends, which will give you a mix of pale yellow to red carrots.
For even more suggestions, see RareSeeds.com.
- Nantes: A fast grower that adapts well to a range of soils and climates
- Cosmic Purple: A dark reddish purple variety with solid orange center
- Chantenay: A shorter, stockier root that gets sweeter toward the fall as the temperatures drop
- Purple Haze: A deep purple carrot with an orange core, Purple Haze adds gorgeous color to any dish
- Miniature: Much smaller than the average carrot, miniature carrots are particularly good if you have a lot of clay in your soil
- Yellowstone: Smooth-skinned and extra sweet
- Imperator: A longer variety, the Imperator needs deep, sandy soil to grow well
- Red Samurai: Scarlet-colored on the outside and pink inside, Red Samurai is another eye-catching addition to any dish
- Danvers: Particularly popular for juicing and tends to store well long-term
- Atomic Red: A very bright Orange-red variety.
For a Spring/Summer crop, sow seeds directly in your plant bed in a sunny area, about 2 weeks before the last frost date.
For best germination, your soil should be between 60 and 70 degrees F.
For a continuous crop, continue planting every 2 to 3 weeks until mid-Summer. If you live in hotter climates, your planting season will be shorter than if you live in a cooler climate
For a Fall/Winter crop, sow your seeds about 12 weeks before your 1st frost date.
Mother Earth News’ vegetable planner can help you find your average 1st and last frost dates.
For well-shaped carrots, you’ll want to make sure your soil is nice and loose to a depth of at least 12 inches. Hard or stony soils will result in misshapen roots. Mix in a 1-in layer of compost, or a half-inch layer of vermicompost, and plant your seeds a quarter-inch deep, 2 ins apart. If you’re doing rows, space them about 10 ins apart.
Once the seedlings start to sprout, thin them so they are 2 to 6 ins apart, depending on the variety, to avoid crowding the roots.
Avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen, as carrots need more phosphorous and potassium than nitrogen, and aim for a soil pH between 5.8 and 7.0 to optimize nutrient uptake. If your soil is too acidic, you can raise the pH by adding a bit of lime.
Once the seeds are planted, be sure to water consistently for the 1st 10 days. A soaker hose can be helpful for this. The soil should be kept moist but not soggy.
Carrot seeds typically germinate slower than other veggies, be patient. You can retain moisture by covering the soil with wood planks or a blanket for the 1st 5-6 days. As soon as the seeds show signs of life, remove the cover.
Weeds can be kept at a minimum and moisture can be retained with a layer of mulch once the seedlings have sprouted. Another way to reduce weeds is to grow radishes in with your carrots.
Now that you have carrots below is what you can do with carrots in the kitchen
Your imagination is the limit.
For a list of creative ways, see MyRecipes.com, “7 Ways to Cook With Carrots.”
It contains novel ideas as spiced braised carrots with olives and mint, a Moroccan-inspired side dish bursting with flavors like cinnamon, garlic, red pepper, coriander, honey and lemon, and poached scallops with leeks and carrots, an unusual flavor combination said to bring out the best in each other.
Editor’s Note: Carrots are higher in sugar than many other vegetables and therefore best eaten in moderation.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively