Blog: Be inclusive – who says a carrot has to be orange or pointy?
I’ve had so many problems over the years with carrot root fly that I stopped growing them – failure and disappointment will do that to a person.
If you’re unfamiliar with the horrors of the carrot root fly, the ‘little blighters’ burrow into the roots, making them pretty inedible (you can read more about them in this despairing page written when I had no hope left).
However, there is hope and it’s not in any new fancy varieties with resistance. No, it’s in the old, heritage varieties where I’ve found salvation and it seems the more they stray away from the norm from a carrot, the better they have performed!
Here are my top three tried-and-tested varieties:
Blanche a Collet Vert
This traditional variety from Belgium basically means ‘white with a green collar’ and I’m growing it this year. All carrots were originally white or purple – orange is relatively new, bred for the House of Orange in The Netherlands.
The carrots are white, and the top inch or so is supposed to be green – very pretty cooked and raw. They’re long and pointy and a bit knobbly – buy them from www.realseeds.co.uk, about 400 seeds for £1.66.
Oxheart (also known as Guerande)
An old French variety, originally grown around Nantes. It lives up to its name, looking virtually heart-shaped – it’s as wide as it’s long. Technically called a snub-nosed variety, it did well for me in a raised bed and can be grown in containers or shallow soil.
Roots reach 10-13cm wide at the shoulder and about as long. The taste and texture are absolutely delicious – the best carrot I’ve ever grown! Oxheart is a quick grower with less foliage than you’d expect and it keeps well (although I didn’t get round to that, scoffed the lot)!
You can buy them from the Rob Smith Heritage Veg Range at Dobies, price £2.50 for 200 seeds. Apparently, it has a natural resistance to carrot root fly, Rob told me.
Paris Market (Tonda di Parigi, Marché de Paris)
My first success with carrots, probably because they’re so fast-growing the flies didn’t have time to lay eggs!
Paris Market has almost spherical roots with good colour and flavour and is ideal for beginners, as it matures so quickly.
This 19th-century French variety is perfect for modern needs. As it’s a small carrot, it’s ideal for pots, shallow, clay-rich, or stony soils. Widely available, you can get about 700 seeds from Kings Seeds for £1.35.
There you have it – white and green, heart-shaped and round – I’ve never dealt in ‘normal’ and it just goes to show that like people, the odd ones out can often be the best!