Carrots originated over 5,000 years ago in present day Afghanistan. Eventually, carrots were divided into 2 categories: atrorubens and sativus. Atrobuens arose from the east and had yellow to purple roots while sativus carrots had orange, yellow, and sometimes white roots.
There are 4 major types of carrots: Danvers, Nantes, Imperator, and Chantenay. This article focuses on Nantes carrots.
What are Nantes Carrots?
During the 17th century, orange carrots became the vogue and purple carrots fell out of favor. At that time, the Dutch developed carrots with deeper orange carotene pigment. Nantes carrots were named for the city on the French Atlantic Coast whose countryside is ideal for Nantes cultivation. Soon after its development, Nantes became a favorite of the consumer due to its sweeter flavor and more tender texture. Today, there are at least six varieties of carrot that bear the Nantes name, but Nantes has come to represent more than 40 members of carrots with medium-sized, cylindrical roots that are both rounded at the top and bottom. Nantes carrots were first mentioned and described in the 1885 edition of the Henri Vilmorin family seed catalogue.
How to Grow Nantes Carrots
All carrots are cool weather veggies. You can grow Scarlet Nantes carrots either as a late spring crop (Plant in January to harvest in May) or a winter crop (Plant in late August to harvest from November to December). Sow seeds for carrots with other frost tolerant crops as soon as the soil has warmed in the spring and all danger of frost has passed. Prepare a bed that has been plowed down to a depth of 8-9 inches (20-23 cm.). Break up clumps and rake out large rock and debris. If you have a very clay laden soil, consider growing the carrots in a raised bed. Plant the seeds ¼ to ½ inch (0.6-1 cm.) deep in the early spring. Space rows 12-18 inches (30-46 cm.) apart. Germination may take up to 2 weeks, so bring your patience. Thin the seedlings to 3 inches (8 cm.) apart when they are an inch tall (2.5 cm.).
If planting in a container, the pot should be at least 12 inches deep.
Nantes Carrot Care
When growing Nantes carrots, or really any type of carrot, keep an eye on the irrigation. Carrots germinate best in warm, moist soil. Cover the soil with clear polyethylene while the seeds germinate. Remove the film when seedlings appear. Keep the bed damp as the carrots grow. Carrots need moisture to prevent splitting. Keep weeds cultivated from around the seedlings. Use a shallow cultivator or hoe to not injure the roots. Harvest of Nantes carrots will be about 70 days from direct sowing when they are around 2 inches (5 cm.) across, although the smaller the sweeter. Your family will love these sweet carrots, packed even higher than store bought carrots with vitamins A and B and rich in calcium and phosphorus.