Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Making My Own Carrots 3

I've previously posted about my project to breed up my own variety of carrots (the-biologist-is-in.blogspot.com/2014/02/making-my-own-carrots.html) and showed you some photos of the flowers (the-biologist-is-in.blogspot.com/2014/05/making-my-own-carrots-2.html) growing from the mother plants I had selected the previous year and saved over the winter.

I was looking through my photo archive and realized I had taken some photos (left and right) of a couple "mother" plants that decided not to flower with all the others in the second year. Instead they grew lumpy and tortured looking over the year and froze in their second winter. I figured someone might be interested in seeing them, since few people these days will have experience growing carrots beyond the first year.

Perhaps these roots would have bloomed in their third year. Perhaps they would have bloomed in their second if they had been exposed to some environmental trigger lacking in their second year. These were the darkest purple roots I had saved, so the large batch of seed resulting from all the flowers has fewer of those nice intense color genes than I had hoped for in the project. However, I'd rather not have the genetics responsible for the lack of flowers in my carrot population.

This year a friend is hosting an aggressively growing patch of carrots in her garden. I didn't have a garden setup yet and the seeds had to get planted.

I pulled out several sample carrots at midsummer to check on their growth and edibility. I also pulled out some samples of the variety "Scarlet Nantes" to use as a flavor control, since it is known for being a very sweet carrot. My carrots didn't taste very sweet, but the control carrots tasted horrid. I'm blaming the then-hot weather on the poor showing they all had in the flavor department.

The carrots had a range of colors, ranging from white to yellow, orange, pink, and red. There was even a couple roots that seemed to have a thick translucent outer layer (with pink pigment throughout). The reddish ones tasted the worst and the translucent-surface ones tasted the best.

I'll be taking lots of photos and statistics of the larger batch when harvest time comes at the end of fall. Soon after I'll be writing up a nice post with lots of pretty pictures. Somewhere along the way I'll have to decide what selection criteria to have for the next generation.

Part 1: The initial story.
Part 2: Carrot flowers.