Tastiest carrots?

I find big differences in flavor and texture of various carrots. I can buy some fantastic local carrots (always from certain growers) but my home grown carrots are mediocre. Does anyone have recommendations for great carrots? I live in a zone 5 with cool summers.

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I want to double this question :grinning:

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Ive grown 7-8 different varieties side by side the last few years. Nelson and Yaya have consistently produced the sweetest carrots for me. Purple haze has also been very good. Good old scarlet nantes, the one that all the stores sell, has been very poor tasting for me. We’ve done blind taste tests with the family. I plant in late Sept and harvest in dec-jan. You should be able to grow some amazing carrots up in AK with the long days and cool temps. Best carrots I’ve ever had were from a grower in Palmer, AK. I’m not sure of the carrot variety. They had a blunt tip and were very tender similar to nelson.

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Nantes and danvers have always been “meh” for me. The sweetest most perfumey carrot I’ve grown was st valery. More perfumey than sweet, actually, but very good. It is a very long skinny heirloom, they have grown as long as my forearm but stay thin and soft. Atomic red is good too.

I don’t know if it’s something I’m doing wrong, it very well could be, but it always takes twice as long as it says on the seed packet for the carrots to mature here. Has almost discouraged me from growing them at all. Except that store bought carrots are so boring and lacking all flavor. Planning to try some sort of F1 variety this year, sugarsnax maybe, as I’ve heard good reviews.

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We’ve always liked purple haze. No matter what kind, i always find carrots are much better when grown in the fall vs the spring.

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I vote for the carrot that has been touched by frost, and was harvested two weeks later or more. not all my carrots survive the winter either, but those which do have a very nice flavor.

Anybody tried Napoli? I’m thinking of that one for next year - the fast growth rate is appealing.

I’ve tried Scarlet Nantes and Red Cored Chantenay, and in both cases I wished they’d grow faster. This year was lousy - My spring planting got cooked by a hot dry spell when they were still seedlings; my fall one never sized up because the cold weather came on fast. I’m hoping a faster growing variety would be more forgiving of weather weirdness, which we get plenty of here in New England.

Whether any variety would forgive my own blunders (like failing to rabbit-proof) is another matter…

It seems I’ve tried almost all the OP carrots over the years and none have compared to Kinko 6" (a chantenay), which I started growing in 1980. Sweet when young, still good flavor old, good storage, nice shape. Which makes it really, really frustrating that it was dropped from the industry. I can’t find it anywhere now. If anyone does find a source please let me know!

I hadn’t noticed it was gone because it was available all over ‘back when’, and I’ve grown my own seed several times since, keeping my own line alive so didn’t need to buy (seed can last a real long time if kept cool & dry). Carrots are easy to grow seed here EXCEPT for the all pervasive Queen Anne’s Lace, which we have in abundance. When I grew seed I did my best to mow, cut, pick, pluck the QAL flowers in our surrounding fields. This was no small endeavor and in a way futile. But I did my best and am OK with my crop of not pure Kinko’s with occasional white roots (which though rougher are sweeter and more tender cooked than ‘regular’ carrots). But I’m running low on seed and we have more QAL than ever so I don’t want to try growing my own seed again. So I keep looking for a similarly good commercially available OP carrot, with no luck yet. So am also interested in others experiences.

Looking back at my older notes I have Nantes Fancy is OK (have to try that one again), and Scarlet Keeper OK for late storage, not as sweet but OK. I grew Coreless Amsterdam this year and found it sweet but very long and thin (but we had a hot dry summer). St Valerie also, grew well, is rather roughchunky but OK for cooking. It seems most carrots are either good fresh when young, or OK older cooked but not both. Kinko 6" is good all around. Don’t know why it disappeared.
Sue
PS - Agree that the overwintered (in the ground) carrots are the cats pajamas in the spring! Mine usually make it, with a lot of mulch, even though some years the tops freeze.

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I have never liked carrots.I dislike its earthy flavor,and mush texture after it is cooked. But it is a very healthy root veggies, lot of V vitamin A. I’d like to grow one to see whether I will like the one you guys recommended .

Have you been growing your own carrot seed annually since 1980? Or how many years can you continue growing carrots from the same seed crop?

I’ve only saved carrot seed one or two times so far, but my experience is basically the same as yours. Thanks for the tip on Kinko 6".

Mokum have been extremely tender in my garden. Sometimes they will shatter if you drop one on the floor. Taste is good if not a little bland, but way better than scarlet nantes. A downside is a tendency to split in the ground if left too long and big rain hits. Nelson are also very tender and brittle but a little less so than mokum. At least this has been my experience-not sure how general.

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Hi Eric - I think I’ve grown seed out 4 times over the last 20 yrs.Because of the Queen Annes Lace it’s a real hastle so I haven’t done it often. As long as the results are what you want you can keep growing your own seed indefinitely. I have many vegetable varieties that I grow that I’ve been saving 20-35 yrs, some yearly, some less often. Even a potato (Jogeva), though mostly I haven’t been able to keep potatoes going that long.

I think I’m going to grow out my Kinko6 again and try bagging the seed heads.That should be a lot less work than trying to keep the QAL around here cut down. Sue

I save a lot of seed myself every year, probably over 100 different total varieties of at least 30 different species, but I tend to err on the side of growing varieties out more often than I need to. It sounds like you got at least 5 good years of germination from a single crop of carrot seed? With some crops it’s just as easy to save a little bit of seed every year as to save enough for multiple years (even if it would maintain good germ), but with other crops it makes more sense to grow a multiple-year supply of seed at once, either because I want to grow more varieties of a species than I can isolate in one year or because inbreeding depression might be a problem if I didn’t grow more seed (particularly with biennials that don’t bloom at all when I grow them simply to harvest) than I wanted to plant in just one year. I don’t do as good a job taking care of my own needs for those biennial crops as I mostly do with the annual crops.

I don’t really have any experience with bagging or netting, but I wonder if instead of bagging individual carrot heads it wouldn’t be easier to net a whole bed. In either case you’d have to hand-pollinate, right?

That’s a lot of seed saving! I used to do more in earlier days when the SSE was active but I’ve simplified my garden to only growing what I most like, and use, so my seed saving is likewise simplified. As you do I save the easy ones often (tomato, pepper, squash), others like spinach maybe 5 or 6 yrs, though all of them would be viable much longer than that. Onions are the only exception I’ve had – they go downhill fast after a couple years. The current carrot seed I have is 10 yrs old and germination just fine. I think it was similar length the save before that. Mmm, I must be saving it for longer than 20 yrs then. I get a bit nervous of it running out by 10 yrs though.

Maybe row cover would work but I think bags will be easier to get off and on without pollinator intrusion. Been reading my well used copy of Suzanne Ashworth’s “Seed to Seed” and it doesn’t sound too difficult. I’ll find out. Meantime I hope we get some more snow soon to help mulch the carrots so I’ll have something to grow seed from next year. Sue

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I’m dredging up this old thread and hoping to hear if bagging worked out for you. I assume carrots are self-fertile, so it’s ok to bag individual plants rather than needing to cross-pollinate?

Last year I planted the tops of some particularly delicious grocery store carrots in the spring, and they flowered profusely and scattered their seed all over that garden bed, and I saved a bunch, too. The self-sown seeds germinated in the fall & winter and I’ve recently pulled a few test carrots just to see what they look like. About half of them look like QAL, half are more carrot-like, even though I don’t know of any QAL growing nearby! The carrot flowers attracted a huge variety of pollinators last year, though, so I’m guessing there’s a QAL patch somewhere in the neighborhood.

This spring I also planted the tops of a phenomenal red carrot that I got at the local farmers market, perhaps the sweetest and tastiest carrot I’ve ever had for fresh eating. The seller wasn’t sure of the cultivar, so I’m not sure how to track down a seed source. I’d love to get a huge batch of those seeds to save for future years, though, so I’m hoping to try bagging them this year.

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Hi Winn, My recent seed saving experiences sort of worked and sort of not. Carrots require cross-pollination and they are naturally pollinated by insects, so Queen Anne’s Lace can be quite a distance away and still pollinate your carrots. The book “Seed to Seed” says about 1/2 mile. So bagging the blooms keeps the insects off but then you have to do the cross pollinating yourself. Which means taking the bags off (between 10:00 and 11:00 am is recommended) several different plants, then lightly brushing back and forth between blooms with a soft little paintbrush (or something), all the time keeping the very persistent insects away, then rebagging. I think it was for a couple of weeks, maybe more.

It works, if a bit fussy. But my problem was (1) Purple Carrot Seed Moth, a fairly new insect around here, which lays eggs in the seed heads and the subsequent quite small catepillars eat the buds or early seeds (not sure which). I learned about them via that great educator - experience. So next time I will bag very early to keep them out.

(2) Getting carrots to overwinter here depends on the winters. Most years mine do OK but lately not, in spite of a lot of mulch. This past winter we only had a foot of snow and most of my carrots had the tops frozen (plus probably some tops eaten by voles). So several years I haven’t had enough good carrots to seed. Sounds like this isn’t a problem for you which is nice.

The seed heads I have successfully grown and kept clean and cross-pollinated with a brush did indeeed produce viable good seed. I’ll likely keep trying. The book “Seed to Seed” by Suzanne Ashworth has a good section on bagging and pollinating.

I wish you good success if you do your own. I assume you have open pollinated varieties? If hybrid they likely will not (or may not) come true to type of the parent. But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t try it. Sue

carrotflowers-bagged-w

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Ah, that’s a shame, definitely makes it a little harder than just bagging and forgetting about them until they are done flowering. Good to know, though!

Last summer my carrots seemed to bloom for over a month, but hopefully even just a few days of hand-pollinating during the peak flowering time will allow them to set enough seed for my small garden.

Thankfully from my quick search it looks like those have not found their way to WA yet!

It shouldn’t be a problem here, though in this case I’m using tops from carrots I bought at the farmers market for seed, rather than my own carrots from last year (I didn’t grow any from seed last year).

Unfortunately, the market seller wasn’t sure of the cultivar, but I do have 10 of them that successfully sprouted from the tops, so I’ll probably mix and match pollen and save seed from all of them to increase the gene pool in case they are hybrids with variation in seedlings.

Thank you for the helpful, detailed response! I’m much more likely to succeed now than last year.

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Does anyone have any suggestions for a carrot variety that will remain sweet in hot weather? Mine have good carrot flavor when I pick them, but I wouldn’t call them super sweet.

Palmer Did not realize your In Alaska
do yours grow like this with long day light (he is In Minnesota )
(I just had to)

10.17 kg (22.44 lb)

**On this post **
**any links for seeds **

for these types on this post
The seed places seem to suck?.

with a carrot like that
I did make a carrot wine a Jack Keller Wine recipe (adapted from CJ Berry)
After 2 years it has a wiskey taste (does not mellow), the hotness
it is the most flora wine I ever smelled — smells like flowers .

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