The Black Nebula carrot is a specialty variety known for its lovely dark purple color that adds a hint of berry flavor to salads, soups, and other carrot dishes. Let’s learn more about the Black Nebula carrot and find out how to grow it at home.
Black Nebula carrot basics
Black Nebula carrots (Daucus carota subsp. sativus) typically have roots measuring 9 to 10 inches long with an imperator-type slender shape. Cooking black carrots releases their natural sugars, making them taste sweet when roasted, baked, or cooked using other methods. When eaten fresh, the Black Nebula carrot has an earthy flavor that pairs well with other salad ingredients.
What makes this variety different from other types of carrots is that its natural coloring penetrates deep into the vegetable’s core. In contrast, other carrots with deeply colored exteriors and typically have orange interiors.
The Black Nebula carrot has slender roots with firm skin and pointed tips. Depending on the growing conditions, black carrots may also have many ridges.
Why do Black Nebula Carrots have dark purple roots?
Black Nebula Carrots have a midnight purple color due to high levels of anthocyanins, the same compounds that give blueberries, black plums, purple cauliflower, and purple eggplant their deep violet hues.
How to grow Black Nebula carrots from seeds
Once you have your carrot seeds in hand, it’s easy to plant them, cultivate them, and enjoy the fruits—well, vegetables—of your labor. Follow these tips for planting black carrots in your garden and harvesting them when they’re ready.
Planting Black Nebula carrot seeds
Black carrots are typically ready to harvest within 70 to 80 days, making them well worth growing in your home garden. Here’s how:
- Prepare the soil before the last frost of the season. The soil temperature is ideally somewhere between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit when you plant the seeds.
- Use a raised gardening bed to plant your carrot seeds approximately two inches apart. The Black Nebula has long, slender roots, so it’s important to work the soil carefully.
- Cover the seeds with 1/4 inch of loose soil.
- Water the bed often enough to keep the soil moist. If you want to grow multiple crops, add new seeds to the bed every three to six weeks.
- Wait for the seeds to germinate. This typically takes 10 to 17 days, but it may take longer if the soil temperature falls outside the ideal range of 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Caring for black carrot plants in the garden
Once the sprouts germinate, you’ll see white umbels with a hint of lavender at the edges. To keep the plants healthy, ensure the soil maintains a pH range of 6.0 to 6.6, which is slightly acidic. If any of the roots become exposed, cover them with mulch or soil; otherwise, the root is likely to become discolored. To reduce the amount of hair on the carrot roots, make sure to limit the amount of nitrogen in the soil.
For best results, follow these additional steps:
- Make sure the raised bed has drainage holes to prevent excess moisture from building up in the soil.
- Keep the plants in full sunlight.
- Don’t let the soil become dry.
- Weed the bed regularly. Add a layer of mulch to prevent weeds from growing out of control.
- Remove as much plant debris as possible to prevent disease and reduce pest activity.
For further detail, here is a complete guide all about how to grow your own carrots.
Harvesting Black Nebula carrots
If you want baby carrots for salads and other dishes, start harvesting Daucus carota subsp. sativus when each one is about the size of a finger. For bigger carrots, wait until the roots are approximately nine inches long.
To prevent the carrots from splitting, harvest them as soon as possible once they reach the desired size, as this variety is prone to splitting when the tops get over about an inch wide. That said, you can leave some carrots in the ground to overwinter in hopes of collecting seeds from the carrot plants next summer. This variety also has purple-tinged flowers that closely resemble Queen Anne’s lace, and can be used in cut flower bouquets.
Suggested uses for the Black Nebula
Now that you know how to grow your own black carrots, here are a few suggestions for incorporating them into meals or using them for other purposes.
- Replenish the local bee population by planting black carrots all over your property. Bees love carrot flowers.
- Try roasting the carrots with a little olive oil and salt. For extra flavor, add your favorite spices.
- Serve small black carrots with hummus or your favorite dairy-based dip.
- Shred these carrots and add them to salads, soups, and other dishes.
- Prepare steamed carrots as a healthy side dish.
- Use the lavender umbels from your carrot plants in place of expensive cut flowers.