Tuesday, 6 December 2011
Amsterdam Maxi Forcing Carrots
I've been very resistant to the idea of planting "baby" carrots. My thought is we plant regular carrots and get baby carrots anyway, half the time. I see no benefit in planting carrots, covering them in burlap, watering them, weeding them, thinning them, waiting, waiting - then pulling them up and getting something dinky. I'd rather get a nice big, fat carrot.
However, Mr, Ferdzy talked me into trying these, and I have to say I'm extremely impressed. We planted them on August 9th, some in our wet bed - thick, sticky clay - and some in our dry beds, which are sandy and quick draining. They both did fabulously. William Dam says they are ready in 45 to 55 days, and they might have been, but we left them much longer (we picked the last on December 4th) and they held very well. Only a couple have split out of hundreds. We also had much less trouble with forking than usual, but that's because we have finally gotten the message: no manure please, we're carrots. We were very slack about thinning them, and they just stood there shoulder to shoulder, mostly getting to a perfectly respectable size anyway. They pulled out easily, and while some were on the small side, at about 4 or 5 inches long, some got as long as a foot*, and a good width too, although none were really fat. And sweet! And juicy! And yummy! These are a real winner, and all this in an open-pollinated heirloom carrot.
I wouldn't want to plant them much later than when we did, but it was a good time. Our annual July drought was over, and we were getting some rain. As you may suppose by the planting date, they went in after we had harvested an earlier crop of beets and turnips - two crops from one space, very nice! Next summer we may try these first, with beets and turnips to follow and see how that does, as these would be an excellent summer carrot, as they are so crisp and juicy; delicious raw. William Dam says they store well. We have enough that we should be able to find out.
In spite of the name, which suggests to me Victorian market gardening and a Dutch origin, the earliest references I can find to the Amsterdam forcing carrot as a variety seem to be from 1948. Given the tendency of seed sellers to re-name vegetables if it seems like a profitable idea, these may well be an older variety than that. They may even be Dutch in origin, although they are certainly extremely popular in England. Apparently the Dutch grew many forced vegetables, including carrots, in the latter part of the 18th century, although the practice began to wane in the early 19th century. Holland is also the apparent origin of orange carrots in general; until the 16th century orange carrots were unknown or rare, most being a muddy brown, red, purple or white.
At any rate, I do intend to "force" some of these in the spring; that is, to plant them earlier then normal in our coldframe, and also under one of the plastic hoop-houses. We'll see how they do, but I am optimistic. Also, I am not proposing to try growing carrots in pots, but if I were, this is probably the variety I would choose. Certainly they are a good choice for smaller gardens. Or anyone, really - they're a great carrot.
*Not, admittedly, the ones planted in the clay. But they got long enough, and I did harvest that batch about a month before the others.