Last August I planted two beds of carrots for winter, each a 4′ x 24′ raised bed with about 5 rows of carrots in each bed. One bed was full of Scarlet Keeper from Fedco, supposed to be a great storage carrot, the other was St. Valery from Gourmetseeds.com/Growitalian.com, supposed to be a larger carrot that sounded interesting. I got a good stand of carrots for a change and when it started to get cold I put some Agribon 19 over them to protect them from the worst of the weather.
The worst of the weather was what we had this year, with the coldest temps in 40 years. It got down around zero F or -17C for several days (many winters it doesn’t get below 20F here). I was worried about how the carrots would do in that kind of cold so I went out to harvest some a couple of days ago. Much to my amazement when I pulled back the row cover the beds looked like this:
The carrot plants were strong and healthy, no signs of frost damage even with the horrible weather. Row cover can do wonders for hardy vegetables. I pulled some of the St. Valery and was impressed with how they were doing:
They were a nice size, good color and very uniform. Almost every one was straight and a good useable / marketable carrot. The tops aren’t too strong but strong enough to get the carrots out of soft ground if I was careful. One nice thing was that they hadn’t pushed themselves out of the ground so the shoulders weren’t green at all.
Next up were the Scarlet Keeper carrots. Much to my amazement it seems that they’ve been busy growing for the last couple of months, despite it being winter! They were a LOT bigger than when I last saw them in early October and had turned into sizeable carrots. Their tops are very strong, which probably helps them grow, and again they were quite uniform. Their color is a little paler than the St. Valery and they actually seem kind of “transparent”, as if you can see into them a little ways.
Here’s what they look like cleaned up.
Cutting into them shows that the St. Valery have almost no core at all and even though you can see one in the picture of the Scarlet Keeper both varieties were very crisp and brittle with no noticeable core or toughness to them at all.
In cold weather I usually eat my carrots cooked, so I steamed a bunch of them for dinner. All in all I preferred the St. Valery, they had a better color and a little better flavor, but there was absolutely nothing wrong with the Scarlet Keeper, they would have come out on top against many other competitors. Either of them are top notch carrots, especially for the first week of January coming right out of the garden.
I’ve had a lot of disappointing carrot crops the last few years so it’s great to have a real winner, it looks like I’ll be enjoying these until the Spring crop is ready. I think a LOT of difference was quality seed. I switched to a couple orf different vendors for this seed and uniformity and vigor is a lot better than what I’ve been seeing. I’m planning on picking up a couple of batches from Johnny’s this year as I suspect their quality is probably about the best. I’m planning on growing a lot of carrots for market this year as I was amazed at how well they sold at the local market and the good price people were getting for them.
I need to get a final review of the squash trials up, but for now I’ll just say that next year I’ll be planting Delicata and Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato squash, don’t know if I’ll bother with much else.