More trials of spring crops

Let’s talk roots.

I was talking with a fellow gardener last spring about root crops and she told me, “I am not going to try and grow roots crops anymore, they just don’t seem to do well for me.”

This got me thinking about my adventure over the years with root crops and how I have really seen how much variety matters.  Matching varieties with your soil type can make a big difference.

My friend Jean kept trying to plant long thin carrot varieties in our mostly clay soil.  Even though she has been building her garden soil for many years, she wasn’t getting good carrots.

ya ya carrots
Yaya carrots

This got me thinking about root crops I have had success with and those I have not.  For me, the carrot thing has been a germination or taste disappointment. There are only four varieties I grow anymore: Danvers 126; Yaya; Black Nebula and Amarillo.

After trying a good 10 orange varieties, the Danvers 126, and older open pollinated and Yaya a newer hybrid are the ones I recommend. Both are widely available.  Yaya’s germination is more reliable. They are both easy to harvest and both have outstanding flavor.

With our hot summer, carrots that get to full size tend to get bitter and fibrous and skip the sweet stage, but not these two.

Purple! Who doesn’t love the idea of a purple carrot.  I have tried: Cosmic Purple; Purple Sun and Dragon and frankly they tasted pretty horrid. Then I found Black Nubula from Baker Creek.  This is one beautiful and yummy carrot. Even when I let a few stay in the garden into our blistering heat of mid-summer, they were still sweet, and huge.

And when it comes to color, I grew Yellowstone for years to have a yellow carrot in the mix, but never liked the flavor, so I always gave them away.  Then, again, thank you Baker Creek for Amarillo – woo hoo .. a super yummy sweet yellow carrot.

Helios, Purple Plum and Cherry Belle Radishes

I love radishes, always have since I was a kid and my two new favorites are Purple Plum and Helios.

Several companies have Purple Plum which has white flesh and pretty purple skin. I find it reliable and it doesn’t tend to split.

You may not know there is a yellow skinned radish called Helios.  I found it from John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds but now I see other folks starting to carry it. I have never had one split, they just get bigger and even at 3” they don’t tend to get pithy.  They don’t taste as good when they get that big, but they are edible, unlike some other of the smaller class of European radishes when they get larger.

That’s it for now.  Look for my next installment soon ..