As the name suggests, the Chantenay carrot originated from the Chantenay region of France.This heirloom variety has not been widely available since the 1960's, but recently, hard working farmers have combined modern farming methods with traditional values to revive this exceptional variety.
Carrot Chantenay is deservedly well known, a popular small, sweet variety of carrot with orange-red flesh and a fine crisp texture. With a sweet flavour, they taste 'as carrots used to taste'. A premium all purpose, intermediate, stump-rooted variety, with broad shoulders and a blunt tip. Perfect for container growing and very adaptable to a variety of soils, they are excellent for both early and successional sowing.
Chantenay carrots are extremely versatile. Simply wash Chantenay in cold water and they're ready to eat or cook. Delicious in salads or served as crudités, they can be chargrilled, baked, steamed, or used stir-fry. They are particularly popular with children because of their sweet crunchiness and small size, one carrot is perfectly designed to fit snugly into the hand of a small child!
History of the Chantenay:
As the name suggests, the Chantenay carrot originated from the Chantenay region of France. Early references to the carrot can be found back in the mid 1800's where it was used in medicine. This heirloom variety has not been widely available since the 1960's, but recently, hard working farmers have combined modern farming methods with traditional values to revive this exceptional variety.
As food production became more organised after the war there was a rise in the popularity of Chantenay carrots. This peaked in the 60's but the Chantenay fell out of favour as the market place developed and food production became increasingly mechanised. Production of Chantenay for the fresh market almost ceased in the 1970's although Chantenay remained a favourite with the canned carrot market due to their sweetness and size. The recent revival by food producers has been brought about with a complete product overhaul which looked at varieties, size and production techniques.
There is some truth in the old wives' tale that carrots help you to see in the dark since night blindness is one symptom of vitamin A deficiency. In the Second World War, Early radar stations were established along the south and east coasts of England in 1939 to detect aggressors in the air or at sea. The Germans attributed this sudden, remarkable night vision to the British habit of eating carrots. They weren't so far off the mark since the vitamin A in carrots forms retinol, a lack of which brings on night blindness. An 80g portion supplies more than the RDA of vitamin A.
Prepare the site:
Success with root vegetables is very much down to the quality of the soil, so it’s worth taking the time to prepare your patch. Start digging over your soil in late winter or early spring, removing any stones you find and turn the soil until it has a fine, crumbly texture.
Carrot seed should be sown into deep, fine, rather sandy, fertile soil with a pH of 6.5 – 7.5. The soil should not have been manured in the past year; ideally it will have been manured for a previous crop. If the ground has been manured in the past year do not grow carrots in that spot. If your soil is not ideally suitable, you can prepare a large container instead.
Sowing: Sow successionally from February
Carrots sown early in February in a cold frame/cloche will be ready to harvest by June. Put the cloche in place a month before sowing as this helps to warm up the soil. Sowing seeds into modules is another way to obtain early cropping. Sowing in early spring to early summer will hopefully avoid the most harmful hatchings of the carrot fly.
Sow the carrot seed thinly into drills 2cm ( ¾in) deep. The rows should be spaced at 12 to 15cm (5 to 6in) apart for optimum performance. Carrot seeds are small, but it’s wise to plant them as thinly as possible. This reduces the amount of thinning necessary and potential risk from pests. Mix the seeds with a handful of sharp sand and sow them together. Sand will also aid drainage.
Once the seedlings are showing their first rough leaves, thin out to 7 to 10cm (3 to 4in) apart which minimises competition and enables the carrots to grow quickly to harvest size.
It is best to thin seedlings in the evening when carrot fly are not around, as it’s the odour of bruised leaves which attracts them.
Use a lightweight fleece over the bed to increase the temperature of the soil while also preventing the carrot flies from laying their eggs. Keep the ground around the carrots weed-free by hand. As foliage develops the leaf canopy will suppress the annual weeds.
The plants need little other attention during their growth period, although the plants should be kept well watered – too little water results in coarse, woody roots.
Harvesting: 12 to 20 weeks maturity.
Early varieties of carrot will be ready to harvest approximately 12 weeks from sowing, and maincrop varieties after about 16 weeks. Start pulling up your carrots as soon as they are big enough to eat. It’s best to harvest them in the evening to avoid attracting carrot fly. The first roots are usually lifted when they are 12 to 15mm (½in)in diameter, remembering roots will continue to grow as the seasonal temperature rises. Use a fork to lift, being careful not to damage the carrots.
Late-sown carrots must be lifted by October once the foliage begins to wilt and turn yellow, to be stored over the winter.
For winter, carrots can either be lifted in October and stored, or left in the ground ensuring the crowns are covered with a secure layer of straw to protect them from the frosts.
Store only the best, undamaged roots, cut off their foliage and lay the roots between layers of sand in a strong box, ensuring that the roots do not touch. Store somewhere cool and dry, check the carrots occasionally, removing any odd rotten roots before they infect their neighbours. Carrot tops can be used in a variety of dishes, including raw in drinks or in salads.
Carrots are an excellent source of the deep yellow carotenoids that produce vitamin A. They are also a good source of magnesium, potassium, vitamins C and B complex, and a form of calcium that is easily absorbed by the body.
During the first five months of storage, carrots will actually increase their vitamin A content; and, if protected from heat or light, can hold their nutrient content for another two or three months
Carrots do well alongside most plants, especially Chives, Garlic, Rosemary and Sage (which also deter Carrot Fly).
However Dill, Coriander and other members of the Umbelliferae family should not be planted near carrots as they tend to cross pollinate which can be important if you are to save your own seed.
We are pleased to be able to provide large packets of these carrots which should give you plenty of seeds for successional sowing throughout the season. You may find that you have enough seeds for storing until next year. To store for next season, simply seal the unused seeds in paper packaging and place in cool, dry conditions.
You can save seeds from this heirloom variety quite simply. Carrots are biennial plants, they will grow their greenery and long, tender root this year, but won’t flower until next year, so you’ll have to sacrifice the root from your best looking plant for saving carrot seed in order to insure that future crops will carry those admirable traits. When saving carrot seeds during the second flowering year, allow the seed heads to fully ripen on the plant. When the flower heads begin to brown and become dry, carefully cut the heads and place them in a small, paper bag and then leave them alone until the drying is complete. Remember to label and date the packaging before storing your seeds in a cool, dry place. The cooler the storage, the longer the viability of the seed.
- Forced Crop: Carrots sown in February in a cold frame/cloche are ready to harvest by June. When using cloches put them in place a month before sowing as this helps to warm up the soil. Sow forced crop seeds in 2cm deep drills (shallow furrows), 15cm apart, preferably a bed prepared the previous autumn. Protect by garden fleece in colder areas. Thin out plants to 10cm apart which minimises competition and enables the carrots to grow quickly to harvest size.
- Early Outdoors: Later in Spring (March/April) sow seeds directly outdoors. Where possible, cover with garden fleece to speed germination and protect against carrot fly. Harvest in July/September.
- Main Crop: These are sown in April/May and harvested in October/November. This time its drills 2cm deep but 30cm apart. Sow seed very thinly and cover with light soil. Thin seedlings out to 4cm apart. These carrots are particularly suitable for storage after harvest.
- Late Main Crop: These should be sown June/July and are ready for harvesting from December onwards. Late varieties are good for storing and produce large roots. Thin seedlings out to 4 to 5cm apart and avoid bruising the leaves when thinning as the smell can attract carrot fly. .
- Additional Information
Packet Size 2 grams Average Seed Count 1,600 seeds Seeds per gram 800 Seeds seeds per gram Common Name Maincrop & Successional
Heritage (France mid 1800's)
Family Apiaceae Genus Daucus Species carota ssp. sativus Cultivar Chantenay 2 Red Cored Synonym Daucus carota var sativa Hardiness Hardy Biennial Time to Sow Sow successionally from February Time to Harvest Matures in 80 days (11 to 12 weeks)