Did you know that Queen Anne's Lace is a carrot? The carrot, really, the original one. The fancy reds and yellows and purple hazes we've got today were all pulled slowly, carefully out of that gene pool.
Darnell Caffoni grows quite a few of the newer varieties at Boxwood Gardens in Orleans. She sells at the Orleans Farmers' Market, and the other day she told me about all the carrots she's growing. She orders her seed from a company in Maine called FedCo (the same one where we get our seeds), and she has a nice line up.
Sugar Snax: "Witches Fingers," Darnell calls these. They're long and thin and orange and they look like big scraggly fingers. They're also super sweet.
Danvers: An old fashioned heirloom from Danvers, MA. Growers there intercropped it with their onions to up production, and the onions kept the carrot fly away. They're stocky and 7-8 inches long with a nice, classic orange carrot appearance and shape.
Purple Haze: A carrot with color and flavor! Orange on the inside, purple on the outside—stunning in stir-fries or salads, though it does lose some color vivacity when cooked.
Atomic Red: Another beauty—red and purplish on the outside, rings in when sliced going red to orange to yellow at the core. Good flavor; Darnell says better for roasting than eating raw.
White Satin: These look like parsnips but are true carrots, Daucus carota. Darnell says they're sweet and crisp, and also good for roasting.
I also talked with Caleb Lemieux from Crooked Farm in Orleans about his carrots the other day. He's selling a variety called Carnival that has all the colors, and he said he soaks his seed before planting it to help it germinate. He also recommends sifting your soil really well—he says any rocks will stop the carrots in their tracks. Both Darnell and Caleb say Cape Cod is a good place for growing carrots—plenty of sand!
Caleb had the first ones I've seen this season, and Darnell's will start coming in the next few weeks. I haven't had any luck with germination, but I'm going to sift my soil, soak my seeds, plant another round for fall and hope for the best.
What varieties are you growing?