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Ones first thought when catching a gander of a purple Carrot is that it is simply a novelty that might go good to jazz up a salad. While it is true, Purple carrots have some added aesthetic appeal, they are also nutrient and vitamin enriched beyond the scope of standard carrots. Their purple color is derived from their phytochemical constituents.
Phytochemicals are naturally occurring compounds found in plants which protect cells for cancer. They are also enhanced beyond the scope of standard carrots in their anti-oxidant content, as well as containing more beta-carotene than that found in orange carrots.
Origins of Purple Carrots Modern Varieties
There is nothing new under the sun and purple carrots are no exception, they can be traced back to the early bronze age in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India at least 5,000 years ago. In all likelihood the first Carrots cultivated by man were Purple and yellow varieties.
A few of the Purple Carrot Varieties available to Modern Gardeners are.
Purple Dragon - Purple Skin with Orange-Yellow core. 65 to 70 days. 5-7 inch length.
Purple Haze - Claims to be the first Modern Hybrid Purple Carrot. 70 to 75 days. Purple Skin - Orange Core.
Purple Sun - Dark Purple Skin - Lighter purple Core. 65-70 Days 5-7 inch Length
Cosmic Purple Carrots. - Light Purplish-Red Skin - Orange just below the outer skin extends to the core. 60 - 70 Days 5-7 inch Length
Some of the less widely distributed ones include Indigo and Maroon.
The taste difference between Purple Carrots and Orange carrots is subtle, very subtle. You shant notice much of a difference in cooking, but when eaten raw purple carrots are a tad spicier, a hint of a pepper taste is sometimes detected - but it's the sweetness of the purple varieties that stands out the most.
Germination - Carrots are notoriously slow germinaters. Anticipate up to 3 weeks. Also anticipate uneven germination over a period of a few weeks.
Direct Seeding is best, not transplants. Begin Planting seeds in early spring, 2 to 3 weeks before last frost. After planting, it's imperative that you keep the upper inch of soil consistently moist until the seedlings emerge. Carrot seeds have a vary hard coat that must be kept moist in order to soften them for germination
Carrot seeds will germinate in soil temperatures as low as 50 degrees, but in the vicinity of 70 degrees is best for quicker germination and less seed loss.
Maturity Varies among cultivars - see seed packets
Color - Varying shades of Purple - Orange and Yellowish Cores
Spacing - 2 to 4 inches apart. This is not always possible when planting seed so plan to thin your carrots as they emerge to attain adequate spacing. Allow them to attain a respectable size before thinning - some of the carrots you've removed should be useable.
USDA Hardiness Zones 3- 11
Full Sun / Light Shade
Carrots are cold hardy and will survive fall chills, let some of your carrots stay in the ground until after the first frost. You'll find that the cool weather increases their sweetness.