Carrot Harvest

Purple Sun carrots were purple all the way through.

Purple Sun carrots were purple all the way through.

We tried a new purple carrot from William Dam Seeds this summer, Purple Sun. A new introduction for 2015, the seed was pricey, but we liked the variety and may get it again, especially if the packet price comes down a bit.

Purple Sun was touted as a purple carrot that is deep purple to its core, and it certainly was. Other purple carrots are purple only on the outside and orange on the inside. I have also often found them to have an earthy flavour, not unpleasant, but somewhat suggestive of winter beets. Purple Sun has a clear carroty flavour, not as sweet as the very sweetest orange carrots, but very nice in its way.

It is not a speedy-to-mature carrot. We had one planting taking up a spot the entire season. Still, if you have a discerning clientele for specialty veggies, Purple Sun is definitely worth growing as a market crop for those who would appreciate its deep colour and taste quality.

They were a bit hairy as they came from the earth but cleaned up easily, They were much less likely to create strange monster carrots than the orange variety we were growing beside them. Some roots from our last digging had a touch of insect damage on their shoulders but not too bad. We cannot report yet on their winter keeping qualities.

Overall, it’s a thumbs up to Purple Sun carrots.

Buy Local

A recent posting on Facebook gives us more reason to buy from your local organic seed vendors rather than the seed kiosk in your grocery/hardware store. At Beaux Arbres we buy only local through Seedy Saturday vendors or Canadian sources for our seeds, trees and shrubs.
Be aware of what you buy. https://scontent-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xfp1/v/t1.0-9/10995656_940534852653645_4387353776777336358_n.jpg?oh=7e8bb98079fbc075e0d5215593e068f3&oe=554DDBAE

Planning the vegetable garden, 2015

vegImpulsively, we always pick up a few seed packets at Ottawa Seedy Saturday, especially heritage seeds from Greta’s Organic Gardens.

After sifting through last year’s seeds to see what’s left over, the first mail order catalogue I turn to is William Dam Seeds, a family-run seed house in Dundas, Ontario. They have a fine selection of vegetables, especially good for European beans. On and off, I have been dealing with them for a couple of decades and I can whole-heartedly recommend the Blauhilde purple pole bean.

I have most of a packet of Blauhilde from last year (bean seed last for several years if kept dry). I will be re-ordering the green bush bean called Igloo – it has done well for me for under row covers for late season green beans.

William Dam has two new hybrid carrot varieties: Purple Sun, and Red Samurai. I may try both. They also carry a new beet, called Merlin. New beet varieties do not show up that often – I am curious enough to try it.

Picking out the tomato variety to plant is a challenge. There are always plenty of new varieties plus intriguing heritage varieties and it is easy to get overwhelmed. Last summer, the second wet summer in a row, we had some wilt in the leaves. Should I get a wilt-resistant new variety? We have had problems with blossom end rot. Is the answer a resistant variety or augmenting the soil with Epsom salts to up the magnesium content or both? I love Black Cherry, a widely available heritage variety, for its sweetness and flavour, but I have grown it for three years in a row. Is it time to diversify? I know I do not care for yellow cherry tomatoes – I find them bland – but that still leaves a puzzling array of red, purple and black small tomatoes from which to select. I have yet to find a main crop slicing tomato that I am really satisfied with for our Quebec farm. At this point, sticking a pin in the catalogue blind-folded seems as rational a way to choose as any.

We do not have the sweet soil that is necessary to succeed with brassicas, so I do not even try. I don’t plant many annual flowers; we concentrate on native perennial flowers. However, I do plant annual sunflowers at the back of the garden, the cutting type not the Giant Russians for seeds. William Dam lists an intriguing new sunflower called IceCream with small shiny leaves. Obviously some new genes there. I think I’ll order it and see.

I know I want the old style open-pollinated butternut squash. I usually try one other winter squash just for fun and find it at Seedy Saturday.