Five carrot varieties to try this season

After the graveyard of the post-Christmas period, by February I’m chomping at the bit to tear open some seed packets and get sowing.

The truth is I try to hold back until the the final week of the Six Nations – by which time Wales are usually heading for a mid-table mediocrity and the crushing disappointment will motivate me to really get stuck in.

Last year one of the first sowings I made was carrots. Past efforts, which involved me digging a trench and filling it with compost, had proved mixed, and, though I was keen to grow all of my crop in tubes, I couldn’t muster up enough drainpipes in time so instead I built a wooden trough.

To my surprise it worked, though I must confess the limited number I grew in tubes worked better (see below).

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Still this small victory spurred me on enough to take a look at my options for 2018.

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Early Nantes 5
A much-favoured early maturing variety known for its sweet taste and short stumpy appearance which makes it particularly popular among gardeners on plots where space is at a premium.
Sow outside: March to July

Resistafly
Another early Nantes-type carrot but with the added attraction of offering excellent protection from the pesky carrot fly. Resistant to bolting and with sweet juicy flavour this carrot is ideal for freezing.
Sow outside: April to June

Sugarsnax
A hybrid of Nantes and Imperator. The bulk of my 2017 crop was made of this beauty and it’s a variety I’ll be leaning on heavily in the coming season too. Sugarsnax produces long, sweet, dark orange roots that are highly resistant to disease and are also high in the anti-oxidant beta-carotene.
Sow outside: March to July

Chantenay
Popular in the 50s and 60s Chantenay is a variety that’s also found growing favour with supermarkets, presumably because of its long cropping period. This short carrot is easy to grow and even easier to pull thanks to its broad top and strong foliage.
Sow outside: March to June

Purple Haze
In all honesty these are off the table for me as the family can’t stand the colour – yep I’m well aware that until the 17th century this was the humble carrot’s default colour and when you peel away the skin they’re a yellow/orange, but try telling that to a seven-year-old. Anyway this main crop variety provides large healthy roots and is particularly good for use in salads. Not that I’ll ever find out.
Sow outside: April to June

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