We know the typical carrot hybrid originated from a wild carrot. Over the centuries, gardeners cultivated carrots, turning the wild, white root first yellow and then orange.
Today, there are hundreds of varieties of carrot hybrids the US gardener can choose to grow. Besides being delicious and nutritious, carrots also help your garden’s health by breaking up soil and increasing drainage.
If you haven’t thought about growing carrots, you might decide that a hybrid carrot is worth cultivating. There are varieties of carrots perfect for fast harvests, rocky soil, sweet tooths, and many types that come in a dazzling array of colors.
We will show you how to set up your garden for growing carrots and tell you how to grow carrot hybrids in containers.
What is a Hybrid of Carrot?
A hybrid happens when two different but similar plants are crossbred, combining the characteristics of one variety with another. Before time existed, wild carrots were white and purple.
Over hundreds of thousands of years, humans crossbred carrots to create larger, sweeter carrots. These carrots were yellow and are still a popular hybrid to grow in the garden today. Around 1,100 years ago, hybrids of yellow carrots were used to create orange carrots, which are the preferred color of carrots in most stores today.
The Carrot Family
All carrots fall into one of the five prominent families.
- Danvers: This type of carrot was grown in Massachusetts in the 1800s. It is known for a narrow taper, and it grows well in rocky soil. It has firm tops.
- Nantes: A cylindrical barrel differentiates the Nantes-type carrot from other varieties. It developed in France in the late 1800s. Nantes carrots are coreless, making them ideal for juicing but poor for commercial production.
- Imperator: The most common carrot on the shelf at your local grocery store. Imperator carrots are wide and tapered and have a higher sugar content than many varieties.
- Chantenay: These blunt, short carrots were developed in 1928 and are primarily used for canning. They can be grown close together.
- Ball: This is a newer hybrid variety that produces ball-shaped roots that are sweet and crunchy. This variety grows well in sandy and rocky soil.
How to Grow Carrot Hybrids
Carrots are great vegetables to grow in your garden. They provide tasty, delicious roots in salads, cooked dishes, and even make a wonderful cake.
Why limit yourself to the standard varieties available in the store. You can grow carrot hybrids and get better flavor, more nutrition, and have fun doing it.
– Starting from Seeds
In most cases, you will need to buy a new seed each year when growing hybrid carrots.
Some varieties are heirloom hybrids and may produce stable seeds. Still, the vast majority of carrot hybrids should be grown for harvest. You can find lots of exciting varieties of carrot hybrids from seed companies online.
– Germinating Indoors
Carrot seeds are slow to germinate, and many first-time growers will struggle with seeds that rot or don’t sprout. An excellent way to speed up the germination process is to prime the seeds. Soak the seeds in water for about an hour, then strain into a paper towel. Fold the damp towel and place it in a plastic bag or an airtight container. Plant the seeds within five days to keep them from getting moldy. This technique will encourage your seeds to germinate quickly.
– Planting Carrots in the Garden
Carrot sprouts are delicate things and don’t tolerate transplanting well. Rather than starting seeds indoors and transplanting hybrid carrot seedlings, carrots should be sown in the garden after priming the seeds. You should properly prepare your garden for carrots. Planter boxes are excellent for growing a nice crop of carrots.
– Ideal Soil Conditions
Carrots will have difficulty when they encounter objects in the soil while growing. For the best-looking and healthiest carrots, you should dig your garden soil out to a depth of at least 12 inches. Then mix in an organic compost that has been screened to remove large chunks, sticks, and other debris. Carrots can be planted in rows on raised mounds or in beds.
Once seeds germinate, the soil can’t be disturbed. It would help if you used sharp, small scissors to thin carrots by topping the sprouts about two weeks after sprouting begins. Most varieties should be thinned to four to six inches. However, the hybrid Chantenay varieties will grow well three to four inches apart or less.
– Light Conditions
Carrots grow well in partial sun to full sun conditions. Carrots grow best when temperatures are cooler and should be planted in spring after the last frost and again in late summer for a fall harvest. Most carrot hybrid varieties will tolerate cold and even snow when they are mature.
– Watering Requirements
Water carefully when your carrots are small to prevent washing out the seedlings. Carrots prefer frequent, shallow waterings rather than flooding. Don’t let the soil dry when germinating, or young seedlings are just growing because they can die. Soil should remain moderately moist throughout the growing season but avoid allowing it to become waterlogged.
When to Harvest
Hybrid varieties of carrots will mature at different rates. Some types may be ready to harvest in as little as 45 days, while other varieties can take 70 days to be ready.
Typically, you will see the top of the carrot begin to poke up from the ground when ready to harvest. You can mound soil over the top to let the carrot continue growing.
– How to Harvest
Many carrot hybrid types were developed to ease harvesting. These varieties feature firm tops that let you pull the carrot easily from the ground. If the carrot does not come up quickly, you can use a tined fork to loosen the soil and extract the carrot. Carrots planted in boxes are often easier to harvest than those planted in gardens or fields.
– Interesting Carrot Hybrids You Should Try
There are hundreds of varieties of carrots out there you can try.
These are a few we think are worth starting a carrot bed for.
- Purple Dragon: This striking carrot has purple skin and an orange interior. Sweeter than commercial carrots, this variety makes an attractive addition to salads and is incredibly delicious grilled.
- Pusa Rudhira: An Indian carrot variety that is dark red. It is higher in beta-carotene and the antioxidant lycopene than orange carrots.
- Parisian: These sweet little carrots grow into a tight ball slightly bigger than a golf ball. They are very sweet and crisp and are best eaten fresh. It’s ideal for container planting.
- Yellowstone: This Nantes variety grows brilliant yellow roots and is sweeter than many orange carrot varieties.
- Lunar White: This Chinese variety grows striking pale white roots with green shoulders. The flavor is mild and less earthy than orange carrot varieties.
– Storage Strategies
When you harvest carrots, you want them to stay fresh as long as possible. The first thing you should do is remove the carrot greens by cutting right above the root. The greens will continue to draw moisture and will cause the carrot to become limp. You can rinse dirt from the carrots and place them in a bowl in the fridge. They will keep several days this way. Carrots may also be stored upright in a glass pitcher or vase filled with water. Change the water daily to prevent spoilage.
Carrots can be blanched and frozen for long-term storage. Immerse carrots in boiling water for two to three minutes, then place in an ice bath to immediately stop the cooking process. Pat the carrots dry and put them in plastic bags or vacuum-sealed bags in the freezer. They will keep for three to four months in the freezer.
- All carrots are hybrid vegetables. The various hybrid varieties give us different styles and colors of carrots.
- There are five families that carrots varieties belong to that describe common characteristics.
- Carrots can be grown in the garden, in planter boxes, or fields. Many varieties are well suited to container planting.
- Carrot seeds can be primed to help germination and should be planted in soil rather than started indoors due to delicate root growth.
- Carrots need well-draining soil and prefer sandy and loamy soil to dense, compact soil.
- Carrots need regular shallow waterings and plenty of sunshine, but they don’t tolerate heat.
- Carrots are ready to harvest when the top of the carrot is visible above ground.
- Carrots can be stored in the refrigerator or blanched and frozen to use later.
Hybrid carrot varieties offer the home gardener opportunities to try unique flavors and colors. Few things are more beautiful than a diced carrot plate with orange, purple, red, and white carrot hybrid types.
The home gardener can select hybrid carrot varieties to grow in containers, garden, and even break up compacted soil before planting more sensitive crops. It would help if you were growing carrot hybrids in your garden.