Among the varieties of horticultural crops in the garden, we occasionally have niceties that we don’t usually see in the supermarket and that have always been there, and if not always, at least for many decades. In this case it is the turn of the purple carrot. Dare with it! It is the same or more nutritious than the conventional orange carrot and the cultivation is just as simple. We tell you particular things about this special variety and also where the carrot and its orange color come from. It has a very curious historical component!
THE ORANGE CARROT IS NOT THE ORIGINAL CARROT FAR FROM IT
Carrots developed from these parents have been with us for about a thousand years, but the first ones were tough, hairy, and purple or blackish in color. Back in the 16th century, Dutch carrot breeders developed the orange carrot. Remember that orange is the color of the country . Their footballers wear orange. But this is why. How eager would they have to change the color of an edible root? The answer is: an exacerbated patriotism .
We have to go back to more or less the 16th century, a century in which Spain dominated the world with reigns by width and length of the old continent, and Holland was subject to Spanish rule. And like any domain, there comes a time when it cracks and tensions occur that lead to revolts, invasions and wars, in this case that of the 80 years, from 1568 to 1648 until the Netherlands becomes independent .
And the leader of such revolts is neither more nor less than a certain William I of Orange – Nassau whose banner was an orange flag, which ended up being the flag base of the Netherlands.
AND HAVING ALREADY PURPLE CARROT, THEY DECIDE TO CHANGE THE COLOR TO ORANGE
And there we have the farmers and breeders of the time who said, well, the carrot is orange. And so it was, making such a modification the standard today . Even Bugs Bunny himself eats orange carrots, although the white, yellow, red, maroon and purple varieties are advertised in many seed catalogs and are gaining popularity. And today we have before our eyes, the purple carrot .
Although they seem attractive to you, you should keep in mind that they tend to take on a less attractive brown color when cooked and are probably best used raw in salads where their color will stand out from everything else.
IS PURPLE CARROT HEALTHIER THAN ORANGE?
Purple carrots have as many nutrients as their orange cousins, with one caveat. They have as much vitamin A as orange carrots, but they also contain anthocyanins, those compounds that give colorful fruits and vegetables like blueberries their superfood status.
Maybe now you are wondering if beta-carotene, which is the precursor of vitamin A, is what gives the carrot that orange tone … if the purple carrot is not orange but purple … then where is that vitamin A content? Well, the purple carrot is not all purple!
Numerous studies have found that the pigments in purple carrots can improve memory, improve vision, protect against heart attacks, and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. In this one that we leave you here, the antioxidant potential of purple carrots was evaluated .
BENEFITS OF PURPLE CARROT FOR HEALTH
Most people know that carrots are a good source of vitamin A, which is important for healthy vision. In fact, only one medium-sized carrot is needed to cover all of your daily vitamin A needs. Carrots are also rich in potassium and are a source of copper, B6, and magnesium. Although they are low in calories, carrots are sweet enough to be fermented and you can make a really colorful, alcoholic wine in your own home!
THE BASICS TO KEEP IN MIND FOR GROWING PURPLE CARROTS
The most important thing about growing carrots is having a well-prepared bed or garden space. Carrots do not like rocks or compacted soil. If the soil makes it difficult for them to grow, then they will stunt and deform. The best soil is light and sandy with a high content of organic matter , and perhaps a small amount of wood ash for potassium , and to counteract any excess acidity.
Beware of nitrogenous fertilizers can cause branching and hairy roots. The organic matter available is very different from pure manure since the former is “processed” by the biological activity of the soil and manure has a very high nitrogen content.
The great thing about planting carrots is that they can be planted as soon as the soil is ready. Once you put the seeds, frost, lack of daylight or snow will not bother them the least.
The planting depth of the purple carrot is approximately 1 cm maximum and a 10 x 10 cm frame. The seeds are very small, but most of them will germinate. It is better to overseed and then thin . As we already mentioned in the cultivation of the normal carrot , you can soak the seed and leave it for a couple of days between damp newspapers before planting it. We will ensure a better germination percentage.
The soil must be moist regularly. It is a crop that requires a lot of water.
PLAGUES AND DISEASES
It is rare to see any significant insect damage in the carrot crop. This may be more of a concern for large-scale productions than in a self-consumption garden. The rot black root , can be common. It is a fungal disease that is produced by the conjunction of too much humidity + high temperatures (above 18-20ºC) + excess organic matter in the soil. Hence we have to be careful with the subscribers. The rest of pests and diseases are the usual ones of the normal carrot and many other crops such as aphids , carrot flies, wire worms of the genus Agriotes spp.,and some nematodes. Fungi such as mildew, powdery mildew, alternaria … there are several but it is not such a delicate crop in a garden that it does not grow normally.
COLLECTING THE PURPLE CARROT
Harvesting carrots can be done by hand if the soil is very loose, otherwise a garden pitchfork is the best option for hollowing and will cause the least damage to the roots. You can tell when your carrots are done by examining the root heads, which will be just above or below the soil. The sweetness of a carrot is enhanced by temperatures below 10ºC, so the harvest can take place during the fall and, depending on the places, even into winter.