How are Baby Carrots Grown?

Baby carrots are not grown, but made.
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Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Baby carrots that are found in the grocery stores and packaged are actually made not grown. The idea came to a farmer in California named, Mike Yurosek, to sell carrots that were shaped into baby carrots and cut down to be ready for snack consumption. In 2006, nearly all “baby-cut” carrots are processed and shipped out of California to all over the country. The new shape of the carrots helped to increase consumption per person and grow the industry. Depending on the thickness and shape of the fully grown carrot, multiple 2-inch size baby carrots can be cut out. The cull or remains that are not used are then processed for animal feed as well as juice. All of the carrot is used.

These baby carrots are typically wet when purchased to keep from dehydration. Once a “blush” or white cast to the carrot appears, that means it is dehydrated and the blush can simply be removed by soaking. Storing your carrots in low-temperature with high-humidity is the best to keep the blush at bay. Keeping carrots in water or wrapped in wet paper towel will keep them longer in your produce drawer.

Root Vegetables: Carrots, Beets, Parsnips

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Carrot ‘Parmex’

Dumpy, spherical roots make this one of the best carrots for sowing into patio pots or shallow soil. Despite their shape, they have a fine sweet flavor. The earliest crops can be sown under glass or protected with cloches.

Sow: Early to late spring
Harvest: Late spring to early fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Carrot 'Infinity’ F1

This late maincrop carrot has an elegant, slender root that is delicious raw or cooked. The sweet carrots are deep orange right to their core and keep well in the soil into fall or can be lifted and stored successfully.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Late summer to late fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Carrot ‘Purple Haze’ F1

As its name suggests, this variety has unconventional dark purple roots, which reveal contrasting orange cores when they are sliced. Flavor is not sacrificed and is particularly good when raw.

Sow: Early spring to early summer
Harvest: Early summer to late fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening

Carrot 'Bangor’ F1

Long, stocky roots are produced in large quantities, especially in moist soil, by this excellent maincrop variety. Crops can be harvested from late summer and throughout fall, and store well once lifted.

Sow: Mid-spring to early summer
Harvest: Midsummer to late fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Carrot ‘Flyaway’ F1

Specially bred to be less prone to attack by carrot flies, this maincrop carrot produces good crops where the pest would render others inedible. The stout, cylindrical roots are smooth-skinned and sugary.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Late spring to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Carrot ‘Carson’ F1

Fall and winter bring good cropsof this medium-sized, tapering variety. The rich orange color, combined with the delicious crunchy texture and sweetness, makes them irresistible when eaten raw.

Sow: Mid-spring to midsummer
Harvest: Late summer to early winter
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Beet ‘Boltardy’

A reliable variety yielding traditional deep red globe-shaped roots with a fine sweet flavor. Perfect for sowing under cloches in early spring because of its excellent resistance to bolting.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Early summer to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Beet ‘Pablo’ F1

One of the best varieties for growing in patio containers and perfect to harvest as baby beets. The smooth, deep red, spherical roots taste exceptionally sweet; they also stand well in the soil without bolting or becoming woody.

Sow: Mid-spring to early summer
Harvest: Midsummer to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Beet ‘Chioggia Pink’

A beautiful curiosity; the rich red skin of this spherical root conceals flesh marked with concentric rings of blush pink and white. Its sweet, mild flavor is delightful raw or cooked.

Sow: Mid-spring to midsummer
Harvest: Early summer to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Beet ‘Forono’

Elongated, burgundy-colored roots make this variety ideal for slicing. Tender young roots have a particularly intense flavor, so sow successionally for a continuous supply. Prone to bolting if sown too early.

Sow: Mid-spring to early summer
Harvest: Midsummer to late fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Parsnip ‘Gladiator’ F1

A popular hybrid parsnip that matures quickly, producing consistently reliable, early-maturing crops of white-skinned roots. ‘Gladiator’ also benefits from good canker resistance.

Sow: Late winter to mid-spring
Harvest: Mid-fall to early spring
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Parsnip ‘Tender and True’

In deep soil, this variety forms exceptionally long roots, which are often considered to have one of the finest parsnip flavors. It is also resistant to canker and is a firm favorite with exhibition growers.

Sow: Late winter to mid-spring
Harvest: Late fall to early spring
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

That all being said, there are many vegetables that are being harvested before maturity and resulted in baby sizes. There has been a trend for “baby” vegetables at many grocery stores and upper-end restaurants. Typically, you can spot the carrots that are harvested before they are ready because they still have their greenery attached. Carrots that are grown this way are said to have an intense sweetness that is concentrated. Next time you are in your grocery store, see how many “baby” vegetables you can spot.

To make matters more confusion, there are also specific carrot varieties that are grown to only be 3 to 4 inches in length. These carrots would be grown to maturity and would not be considered babies. These miniature carrots are often grown by container gardeners or those that have rocky soil where a taproot can’t emerge easily.

Some miniature carrot varieties include:

‘Babette’ – This is a true baby carrot that was bred in France for its sweet flavor and gourmet appeal. The deep, orange vegetable is perfect for roasting or adding to a summer salad. This variety will only reach 3 to 4 inches long and is said to be sweeter than any “baby-cut” carrot you have tasted. 

‘Little Finger’ – Another variety that will only reach 3 inches in length and bred in France specifically for canning and pickling. Great for gardeners who live in apartments or condos as they can be successfully planted in containers or windowboxes. Said to have a sweet flavor that is great for snacking raw. 

If you are new to gardening or haven’t ever grown anything from seed before, carrots are a great first pick. The seed germinates rather quickly when watered daily and the picking your own vegetables to make into a meal is a really rewarding task. Try planting some seeds this year and compare the flavor to “baby cut” carrots.

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