In the last few years, I’ve noticed an increase in the availability of so-called specialty vegetables in my local grocery stores. From purple carrots to black cherry tomatoes, these interesting veggies have popped up on the shelves and tempted me to take them home. I will admit, sometimes I succumbed to the temptation.
Are Multicolored Carrots a Marketing Ploy?
As a gardener, one thing I have trouble understanding is how retailers can charge two and sometimes three times as much for these veggies. Does it really cost that much more to grow purple, red, yellow or white carrots? I wanted to find out for myself, so I decided to grow rainbow carrots in my veggie patch.
Now, I will be the first to confess that growing carrots is not my calling. My problem is the weeds always germinate faster than the carrot seed and crowd them out. Not to mention, crawling on the ground at my age to pull weed seedlings is not an easy undertaking.
Nonetheless, I sowed several packets of rainbow carrot seeds and patiently waited for them to germinate. Like traditional orange carrots, they were no more or less quick to sprout. They didn’t appear to grow any faster or slower, nor were they any more or less plagued by pests.
The Dirty Little Secret About Rainbow Carrots
My rainbow carrot seeds produced an array of red, purple, yellow and white carrots that were as good as any orange carrot varieties I’d grown in the past. In other words, I found no difference growing rainbow carrots as compared to the more traditional varieties of orange carrots.
Which is good new for home gardeners who want to experiment growing gourmet and specialty produce. We can have these untraditional colors of vegetables without sacrificing more of our valuable time, energy and resources to grow them.
This has opened up a whole new way for me to think about my garden. Not only can I grow those assorted colors of carrots which I’ve seen in the store, but I can also experiment with veggies which aren’t readily available yet. There’s one root veggie in particular that I’ve been considering as part of my specialty vegetable garden next year.
My Next Big Adventure with Specialty Root Veggies
In addition to the traditional red beets listed in my favorite seed catalogs, I’ve also noticed they offer golden beet seeds. I’ve been wanting to try them, but for a different reason than the one which prompted me to grow multicolored carrots. You see, I love beets. They are one of my favorite dinner time veggies.
I find beets easy to grow and this veggie does well in my garden. (Much better than carrots!) Yet, I don’t grow or use very many garden beets for one very simple reason – they stain. My hands, my clothes, my dishes, you name it and beet juice will turn it a dark red.
I find it much easier to open a can of store-bought beets and forego the mess. Yet, like most gardeners I grow my own veggies so I have healthy, fresh, organic produce for my dinner table. Thus, I’m wondering if growing golden beets will give me the fresh beets I desire without the mess?
As I look forward to planning my garden next year, I hope so. And who knows, maybe I’ll be riding the crest of the wave in regards to the next trend in specialty produce!