I have been very remiss in my posts.
With spring well and truly here, the Autumn sown coloured carrots needed lifting so i can repair the bed, and move the selected plants to an out of the way corner to set seed over summer.
This project has proceeded with considerable neglect.
I originally planted Lobericher Yellow, Belgian White, a few plants - 2 or 3 I think, of 3 Colours Purple (sourced from Diggers Seeds, so who knows what it really was), and Paris Market orange carrot, allowing them to mass-cross, with the intention of creating a mix of multi-coloured, little round carrots. Why? For fun, and so growers like me, who always struggle with growing long root crops, could grow some multi-coloured carrots.
This was an exercise in extreme optimism - I had no idea about carrot genetics.
Other projects got priority, the seeding carrots got neglected, and seed packets got left in the hothouse for months at a time. I was probably selecting robust seed, but not intentionally.
I dug a big patch of promising lookng roots a few years ago, then forgot to do anything with them for a couple of weeks, and many of them rotted. Seed produced from the few survivors was also neglected, but last autumn i planted a couple of square metres of bed, thinned them over winter, removing anything with normal foliage stems, leaving anything with purple blushes to the base of the stems.
After 3 or 4 years of selecting for short roots, I'm getting close to the goal - or at least one of the goals.
The first handful I pulled was a revelation: I couldn't believe the colours, and the stumpyness!
As I'm beginning to realise, in plant breeding the results often lead you off into different directions.
I think I now have 4 coloured carrot breeding projects!
I couldn't believe the luminescence of these magenta gems.
My original idea of multi-coloured round carrots is a bit difficult - it would mean isolating different colours, collecting seed separately, then re-mixing the seed to get different colours in the same batch, I don't really have the room or inclination.
So I think I will proceed with a Purple Paris carrot, selecting for shortness, rounded shoulders, and rounded ends - not as purple as i would like, but i think i might be able to reselect for this in subsequent seasons
Then there's a Red Wedge selection, bigger more robust carrots, broad shoulders, good colour, short roots without the round tip - well at least not as pronounced.
Then a Magenta Candles selection - narrow roots, good deep magenta colour, variable shoulders and tips.
And finally a short white selection - but the numbers are small for this, so we will see which direction it goes in - Snow cones, or White Paris, not sure what will happen with these - and there is a bit of pale orange in the mix...
so, celebrate carrot diversity...