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Selecting the perfect varieties from the Apiaceae family to grow in your garden can be a daunting task. The following are five fun heirloom (aka open-pollinated) varieties to get you started.
Scarlet Nantes Carrot
This 6- to 7-inch heirloom variety dates back to the mid-19th century and is noted for being essentially coreless. According to Garry and Wendy Lowe, of Twin Meadows Organics Farm in British Columbia, it’s one of the sweetest carrot varieties and can be used for multiple purposes, including bunching, baby carrots or bulk supply.
Paris Market Carrot
As the name implies, this stunning little carrot hails from France, and its diminutive size makes it not only easy to grow but also easy to sell. Dating back to the 1800s, its unique shape and size are eye-catching, and it matures in as little as 50 days, making it a great choice for impatient gardeners like me.
Hollow Crown Parsnips
The Lowes like this parsnip variety best for its compact size, larger crown and, if left undisturbed, fewer side roots.
Golden Self Blanching Celery
When a variety endures for more than 120 years, you know it has something good going for it. This intriguing heirloom celery has the distinction of being a self-blanching variety, aka a variety that doesn’t require covering in order to keep from becoming bitter. It has long been noted for its flavor and lack of “stringiness.”
Cosmic Purple and Dragon Carrots
These varieties are somewhat newer in comparison to the other varieties on this list. Cosmic Purple and Dragon carrots boast a stunning shade of purple. “Cosmic Purple is amazing for color and flavor,” says John “Farmer John” Fendley, founder of the Sustainable Seed Company. “They are purple on the outside and orange on the inside. The carrots have the same amount of lycopene as a tomato!” The Dragon variety is also noted for its flavor and popularity at farmers’ markets—people just can’t resist this carrot. It’s one of my favorites.