Humans have likely been munching on carrots for over 5,000 years, so it’s no surprise that an abundance of resources have been developed to guide beginner and advanced carrot breeders alike through all stages of the iconic root vegetable’s life cycle. A long-storing orange Nantes-type carrot with excellent flavour and early vigor is also one of participatory plant breeding projects the Canadian Organic Vegetable Improvement (CANOVI) program is working towards. This post will guide you towards just a handful of the many excellent carrot resources that exist.
To begin with, check out the FarmFolk CityFolk Presents: Seed Works video series. You can find information on growing and selecting carrots as well as cleaning carrot seeds. Patrick Steiner of Stellar Seeds and Jon Alcock of Sunshine Farm will give you a great audio-visual overview of the process you’re embarking on.
If you’re looking for an in-depth guide on how to breed carrots for organic agriculture, take a look at the resources provided by the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA). If you need a quick reference on carrot seed production, you can find a printer-friendly version here. You can also find a regionally-specific guide to carrot seed production in the Pacific Northwest.
If you’re breeding carrots for seed, you will need to consider how you will prevent cross-pollination with other nearby carrot varieties and Queen Anne’s lace (aka wild carrot, or Daucus carota). In 2014 FarmFolk CityFolk published a report called Germinating Ideas: Carrot Seed Production in Isolation Structures detailing the results of a four-year farmer-led project growing out carrot plants for seed production under ecological farming conditions. If you want more information specifically on preparing carrot tents, you can find it in our blog archives here. Feeling adventurous? Check out this blog post and video about capturing flies for carrot pollination in isolation tents. And if you’ve ever wondered about the logistics of importing carrot roots for breeding, you can read a blog post about Chris Thoreau’s experience.
Once your carrot harvest is ready, check out this recipe for Canapé of Sweet & Spicy Carrot Red Lentil Hummus with Ginger & Carrot Slaw on a Cucumber Slice by FFCF’s own Carla Hick and enjoy the delicious harvests of your hard work!
Finally, you can always use the search feature on the BC Seeds website to discover even more resources. What are your favourite places to get information on carrots? Comment below to share your resources and ideas!