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Plan to grow this year’s trendy heirloom vegetable

Outdoor Living expert Carson Arthur in the carrot patch

OUTDOOR LIVING with Carson Arthur
This trend of heirloom vegetables had gone beyond what any of us expert gardeners ever expected. So far, I have received more than 15 seed catalogues from across Canada and the US. All of these companies specialize in rare vegetables, hard to find strains, and unique flavours of culinary delights!

It’s amazing that so many people want to grow their own food and that they care about vintage varieties of seeds. Each year I work with a team of growers trying to guess the hot trends for the year ahead; Kale for 2014; Beets for 2015; Radishes for 2016. So what is going to be the big trend for 2017?

My best guess..carrots!

Heirloom carrots are quickly getting a lot of attention. Purples, whites, and even some rainbow mixes are trending for 2017.

Purple carrots have all of the benefits of an orange carrot including vitamin A and beta-carotene. They are also rich in anthocyanin, the same pigment that is found in blueberries. This anthocyanin is also good for can improve memory, enhance vision, protect against heart attacks, act as anti-inflammatories, and even help control weight.

• Make sure that they have at least 10”s of good soil to grow in. Even in your backyard, you’ll want to till or ‘fluff-up’ the soil so that the carrots can grow long straight. Crooked carrots are cute to look at, but a terror to try and peel, cut or cook with.
• Don’t give them a lot of fertilizers. Carrots grown in ‘rich’ soil produce lots of extra roots making them hairy which is kind of gross. Instead of nutrients, give them sand the help keep the soil around them loose.
• Be cheap on the watering. Carrots that get too much water will often split. This is more common in the vintage varieties. Even still, less water might mean smaller carrots but they will be even sweeter.
• Soak the seeds of your carrots in water over night. This helps speed up the germination process and gets those babies growing faster!
• Plant seeds every couple of weeks for the first few months of summer. This is the easiest way to stage your harvest so that you’ll have fresh carrots all summer long.
• Leave a few in the ground even after frost…it brings out the natural sugars!

Consider a few different varieties of seeds for this spring now. That way you can plant a new row every two weeks and have fresh produce all 2017 long.

-Landscape designer Carson Arthur is host of HGTV’s new Home to Win show. He is also the outdoor expert with City TV’s Cityline and wrote the sell-out book Garden Designs for Outdoor Living in 2015. More at carsonarthur.com
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