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No vegetable garden is complete without a few rows of delicious homegrown carrots! Fortunately, there are hundreds of types of carrots to choose from.
There are four main types of carrots: Danvers Carrot, Chantenay Carrot, Nantes Carrot, and Imperator Carrot. Most carrot varieties are categorized under these four main heirloom carrot types. This includes numerous other heirloom carrot varieties, giant carrot varieties, and a wide range of different colored carrot varieties (including purple carrots and yellow carrots). There are also fast-growing carrot varieties, overwintering carrot varieties, and even heat tolerant types.
Read on to learn all about some of the best types of carrots to grow in your garden.
The Danvers Carrot is the classic American heirloom garden carrot with a bright orange color and a pointed tip. Named after the area in Essex County, Massachusetts where they were first grown, these cheerful carrots reach about 6″-8″ long and have a rich sweet flavor. Danvers carrots have a very slender core and a crunchy satisfying texture.
The most popular Danvers Carrot variety is the Danvers 126 Carrot (also called Danvers Half Long). Many modern carrot varieties have been bred from the original Danvers type. Some of the most popular Danvers-type carrots include Nutri-Red Carrots and White Satin Carrots.
Danvers is an easy-to-grow type that grows best in loose soil but is tolerant of heavier clay soils. Once harvested, they can be eaten right away or stored in a root cellar.
“This is the traditional “Bugs Bunny” carrot with broad shoulders and a strong taper to a sharp tip.”Danvers 126 Carrot Seeds, Hoss Premium Garden Seeds
The Chantenay Carrot is a popular French heirloom type of carrot with a stubby conical shape, orange color, and a rich earthy flavor. These carrots have a fine-grained texture, but they can turn overly fibrous if harvested late. Chantenay Carrots are sometimes eaten raw as small carrots but are more commonly used in cooked applications such as roasted in the oven, in soups, or preserved by freezing or canning.
There are two very popular varieties of Chantenay Carrot: the Red Cored Chantenay Carrot and the Royal Chantenay Carrot. As the name suggests, Red Cored Chantenay Carrots have a richly-colored center. Royal Chantenay Carrots have a more pointed tip and a uniform orange color throughout the root. Chantenay Carrots generally reach about 5″ long.
Chantenay Carrots are tolerant of heavy clay soils and resist splitting and forking better than most other types of carrots. These carrots are best harvested as soon as they reach mature size, which generally occurs about 70 days after direct seeding in the garden.
The Nantes Carrot is a French heirloom type of carrot with a stocky cylindrical shape, orange color, and a subtle sweet taste. Named after the city of Nantes in the region of Brittany, these carrots are about 6″-8″ long with a smooth peel and quite a blunt tip. Nantes Carrots are particularly good for slicing into carrot sticks as they have very little tapering. Nantes Carrots have a crisp, crunchy texture and a subtle sweet taste.
The most popular Nantes Carrot variety is the Scarlet Nantes Carrot. There are also many modern carrot varieties classified as Nantes-type carrots, including Napoli Carrots, Bolero Carrots, and Romance Carrots.
This type of carrot is quite easy to grow in the garden. Nantes Carrots can be grown in heavy soil and have broad shoulders at the top, making them easy to pull out by hand. They also have a long harvesting period, which starts about 75 days after planting the seeds outdoors in the garden.
The Imperator Carrot is an American heirloom type of carrot with a long slender shape and a bright orange color. Given the Latin name for “commander”, these carrots tend to reach a length of 7″-11″ long, making them the longest of the common types of carrots. The Imperator Carrot was named an All-America Selections Winner in 1933 (Source: AAS Winners).
Imperator Carrots grow best in loose, rich soil free from stones and other obstructions. This is not the type to plant in heavy clay soils or rocky areas. Imperator Carrots tend to take about 75 days to mature after seeding in the outdoor garden.
The Bolero Carrot is one of the most widely-grown types of carrots. These Nantes-type modern hybrid carrots are a bright orange color, reaching about 8″ long. Bolero carrots have a very sweet flavor and crunchy texture.
Bolero Carrots are known as an easy-to-grow carrot variety. They are naturally resistant to common plant diseases and tend to produce very uniform roots. Their excellent flavor and ease in the garden earned this variety the RHS Award of Garden Merit.
The Cosmic Purple Carrot is a Danvers-type carrot with a burgundy-purple peel color. These specialty carrots grow to reach about 7″ long and have a sweet, slightly spicy temperature. Cosmic Purple Carrots are relatively easy to grow, taking about 70 days to mature after direct seeding. Add them to a salad for a colorful crunch!
The Black Nebula Carrot is a modern open-pollinated carrot variety with an exceptionally dark purple color throughout. Both the peel and the core are a deep purple shade that is truly almost black. These carrots are perhaps the darkest carrots available and have a sweet flavor with subtle fruity notes. For the best flavor, harvest them before the roots reach 5″ long and serve fresh or lightly roasted/steamed.
The Rainbow Carrot is a carrot variety that produces roots that range in color from pink-coral, orange, pastel yellow, and white. This type is not a blend of different varieties, it is a single cultivar that produces carrots of a similar size and length (and the same maturity date). Rainbow Carrots have a sweet flavor and a crunchy texture. A cross between Nantes-type and Imperator-type carrots, Rainbow carrots grow about 7″–9″ each.
Rainbow Carrots tend to grow in a range of subtle, muted colors. For brighter colors, choose a blend of different carrot seeds, such as Starburst Carrot Seed Blend, Carnival Blend Carrot Seeds, Rainbow Blend Carrot Seeds, or Rainbow Mix Seed Tape.
The Atomic Red Carrot is an Imperator-type carrot with a bright red peel. These long carrots grow to reach 8″-10″ long and have an orange core. Atomic Red Carrots are best grown in loose soil where the roots can develop to be long and straight.
The Kuroda Carrot is a Japanese heirloom Chantenay-type carrot. These stocky orange carrots are very sweet and are excellent for soups, stews, and sauces. Kuroda Carrots are also a good choice for gardeners growing their carrots in heavy clay soil or rocky soil. These thick 5″-long roots take about 85 days to mature in the soil.
Tonda di Parigi Carrot, which means “Round of Paris” in Italian, is a near-spherical carrot with a rich dark orange color. These specialty heirloom carrots are sometimes called “Paris Market” carrots. Given their round shape, they don’t fall into any of the four main carrot types (Danvers, Chantenay, Nantes, and Imperator). These ball-shaped sweet roots are in a class of their own!
The St. Valery Carrot is a French heirloom carrot type that produces long orange-red roots. These carrots have a very sweet flavor. Roots can reach 10″-12″ in length in loose soil and tend to take about 70 days to mature.
The White Satin Carrot is a modern hybrid Danvers-type carrot with a white peel. The roots have a mildly sweet flavor and a crunchy texture. White Satin Carrots take about 65-70 days to mature in the garden.