Eat This

Anybody growing maroon carrots?


While blue roses and tulips have always been a grail of sorts for hybridizers—and still elude them—blue food crops aren’t quite as popular with gardeners or eaters. A report on trends reflected in home gardening as well as in catalogs notes an upturn in quirky vegetable and fruit varieties, going well beyond heirloom tomatoes (still all the rage here in Buffalo).

June Fletcher’s AP/WSJ article says “Get ready for maroon carrots, yellow watermelons and pink-and-white striped beets.” Though I don’t grow vegetables, I still love getting the seed catalogs for this very reason; I like to speculate on who buys all the bizarre varieties. I remember when blue potatoes became popular some time ago, but apparently there’s a limit on blue food—the color is considered unappetizing (hence the blue plate special). Fletcher quotes Western New York gardener Remy Orlowski as saying she “is on the lookout for ‘weird and ugly’ tomatoes, but then Orlowski admits she sometimes has trouble giving away the strangest of the cultivars.

Sadly, unless I do start a food garden, I’ll probably never get to try orange watermelon (which looks wonderful), round yellow cucumbers, or these gorgeous radishes.


I can imagine them as part of a composed salad or a fancy crudité platter. Maybe Remy will grow some for me.

Posted by on May 18, 2008 at 8:30 am, in the category Eat This.
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26 responses to “Anybody growing maroon carrots?”

  1. Stacy says:

    Ooo, what kind of radishes are those, please?

  2. eliz says:

    Oh I’m sorry, I should have said. they are called–confusingly, at least to me–radish watermelon and Burpee has the seeds, as well as other purveyors I am sure. They are heirloom, from China.

  3. shira says:

    I am growing those purple haze carrots – we’ll see if it intrigues my picky eater enough to eat them!

  4.’s got a selection of bizarre vegetables that intrigue me – red cucumbers, purple cauliflower, white carrots, blood-red carrots, tiger melons, zebra tomatoes and pretzel beans.\

    We did grow purple green beans a couple years back. Assuming that with the green and yellow beans, they’d make for a great-looking salad. Unfortunately, the purple beans turned green when cooked!

  5. Sandra says:

    We get the radish watermelon radish most of the winter in the fruit and veggie box from our local organic grower. They are about the size of a summer turnip and are deliciously crisp and not so hot as summer radishes – very good in a winter salad. Blue potatoes I first encountered in the Shetland Islands in the early 1960s, where they are a local variety. I liked them a great deal as, unlike the other local variety, they stayed firm when boiled and tasted like new potatoes even at the end of winter. There are so many great varieties that have been lost because of people’s very limited expectations of what a particular vegetable should look like. The best tomatoes I ever tasted, and I remember it from 40 years ago, was a French variety, large, ridged to the point of segmentation and totally delicious. This year I am growing Winesops and Tigerella – Winesops are mottled purple and orange and red, and Tigerella are red streaked with yellow and both taste much more delicious than any smooth, round red varieties I have tried.

  6. Claire Splan says:

    Elizabeth, do you know if the companies are offering any information on the nutritional value of these rainbow veggies? I’m wondering, for example, if the maroon carrots have as much beta-carotene as the plain old orange ones do?

  7. eliz says:

    Claire, if you read the article, she does speak of a certain group of vegetables that have more vitamin power-the Ferry Morse Health Smart series, which includes Nutri-Red carrots, which have more lycopene, supposedly. The carrots I showed are not those, though. They are from Burpee and I didn’t see if there were nutritional claims. I tend to think eating any vegetables fresh from your own garden must be better. I really can’t do it, but I go to the local farmers’ market–next best, I’m hoping.

  8. Daphne Gould says:

    I’ve seen yellow watermelons in the supermarket. Maybe you can still eat them if your supermarket (or farmer’s market) decides to stock them.

  9. Wowza, those are incredible looking.

  10. I am a total sucker for strange veggies. Yellow beets (‘Intermediate Mangel’) are my favorite, and I’ve had purple carrots and purple beans in my garden before. Disappointingly, the latter turn to green when you cook them.

  11. If you’re interested in vegetable varieties — unusual or otherwise — and what your fellow gardeners think about them, you might check out the Cornell Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website: (Full disclosure: I work on this website some at my day job.)

    You’ll find more than 6,000 descriptions and a growing number of reviews by gardeners from around the country on how the varieties performed where they garden.

    For example, you’ll find half a dozen purple carrot varieties described (with seed sources) here:

    Gardeners have contributed 8 ratings/reviews for three of the varieties. You can read what they think. And better yet, you can rate and review your own favorites, or those that haven’t done well under your conditions.

    Sorry for the shameless plug, but the more gardeners who rate varieties, the more useful this resource becomes.

  12. eliz says:

    Thanks Craig-what an excellent resource!

  13. Eric says:

    I too enjoy growing the odd varieties and find myself looking more at seed companies that offer odd varieties than other companies. Hope the giant tomatoes do well this year, and can’t wait for more Romanescos next winter.

  14. Stacy says:

    The purple haze we did last year were delicious. Doing parisier market ( this year, in a container. So, not strangely colored, but serious cool points for the round shape.

  15. Katxena says:

    I’m growing purple carrots (cosmic purple) and purple bush beans (royalty purple)! The purple carrots are new to me this year, but I thought they were pretty (I’m also growing nutri-red carrots, which are very good cooked). I’m a sucker for unusual varieties (why grow what I can buy?!).

    I grow the purple beans because they are easy to pick — the beans stand out from the foliage. I do wish they would stay purple when cooked, but I’m happy to grow them anyway.

  16. Katxena says:

    I’m growing purple carrots (cosmic purple) and purple bush beans (royalty purple)! The purple carrots are new to me this year, but I thought they were pretty (I’m also growing nutri-red carrots, which are very good cooked). I’m a sucker for unusual varieties (why grow what I can buy?!).

    I grow the purple beans because they are easy to pick — the beans stand out from the foliage. I do wish they would stay purple when cooked, but I’m happy to grow them anyway.

  17. Belle says:

    I love strange and unusual vegetables. Right now I have purple carrots, Burgandy bush beans, purple kohlrabi, Black Krim tomatoes, Purple russian tomatoes, and green sausage tomatoes. I also believe that yellow and orange tomatoes taste much better than red tomatoes.

  18. Nancy says:

    The maroon carrots were developed by a man from Texas A&M, appropriately so, as the school colors are maroon and white. I grew up there, and remember when they were introduced. I believe they were bred to have a higher beta carotene dose in each. The color was a happy accident.

    🙂 Gig’m Aggies!

  19. Curmudgeon says:

    We don’t really grow any “normal” colored veggies in our patch. Our carrots, cauliflower and kale are purple. We’re growing the watermelon radishes. Our beets are yellow and also pink & white striped. The potatoes are blue and the tomatoes are pretty funny looking. I Guess “weird” or “odd” is in the eye of the beholder.

  20. Stuart says:

    Bodaciously pulchritudinous! They look awesome Elizabeth.

    BTW – Curmudgeon, I soooo want to come and visit your veggie patch if this is normal. Sounds incredible.

  21. reggieCasual says:

    I’ve grown cosmic purple carrots and have to say they are some of the most fun carrots to give away. It’s a gift that only a home gardener could give.

  22. Diane says:

    They’re amazing! Thomson and Morgan sell lots of strange coloured carrots and veg. They’re the original colours from Holland I believe.

  23. John says:

    All your coloured carroty questions answered at the World Carrot Museum –

    I am growing 6 different colours this year – red, yellow, white, black, purple and, YES even orange!

  24. Remy says:

    I’m the Remy of the article!
    June took a bit of artistic license in the article. I’m actually on the lookout for great tasting heirloom tomatoes. Sometimes they maybe odd looking. I have no problems giving away tomato plants or fruit. I said I had read in chat rooms that others in different parts of the country have difficulties when people see a black tomato, etc.
    I don’t fault her for what she wrote, it makes a more interesting article that way. : )
    PS, Elizabeth, I wish I seen this sooner. I hold a tomato party the first Sat. after labor day each year on Grand Island. You are more than welcome to attend next year’s party.

  25. Larry says:

    These carrots are some of MOST disappointing veggies I’ve grown. They taste terrible, very bitter….If it was just one box, well but this is from six different box. I also grow Sugersnax, Burpee A+,Sweet Treat…. all really taste good.

    At least the red, white and purple carrots are good for a carrot cake!!

  26. michael says:

    Hi I am trying to acquire some seeds from the blue carrot, to proper gate for my own use, does any one know whare I can acquire some from please