Rare Carrots Grow To Over 3-Ft. Long

Large vegetable enthusiasts will love the Manpukuji carrot. This Japanese heirloom variety is considered the mammoth of carrots and frequently grows to over 3-ft. long.


   The Manpukuji carrot was developed in Japan over 400 years ago during the Edo period. It almost disappeared in the 1950ís, but heirloom seed enthusiasts brought it back from the brink of extinction. Today, youíll find this carrot growing in gardens worldwide and as a novelty item in many farmersí markets.


   The carrot is traditionally harvested after fall frosts and served as the main ingredient within a grated carrot salad served on Japanese New Year. And thanks to its sweet flesh, the Manpukuji makes a tasty snack when eaten fresh.


   When grown in loose soil or tall raised beds, the Manpukuji carrot should thrive without much fertilizing or handling.


   For best success, plant this carrot early in the spring. They need to stay in the ground as long as possible to reach full size. Before planting, work the bed deeply to ensure the roots have plenty of room to grow down.


   Like all carrots, this mammoth variety requires light, fluffy soil and lots of moisture. Plant the seeds 1/8 in. deep, spaced 2 to 3-in. apart, in full sun. If you plant them closer, you can thin the seedlings as they appear. Refrain from adding too much fertilizer, and make sure the soil stays wet until the seeds sprout, usually around 12 to 18 days after planting.


   As with all heirlooms, the carrots are open-pollinated. This means that itís best to isolate the crop from other carrot varieties if you plan to save the seeds.


   The carrots will grow best if they receive consistent moisture throughout the growing season. Leave them in the ground through a frost or two, as the colder temperatures will concentrate their sugars and make them sweeter.


   Prior to harvesting, make sure you loosen the soil around the roots, so you donít snap the carrot as you pull on it.


   After harvesting, Manpukuji carrots keep well in cold storage and will last for several months, another reason for their popularity in ancient Japan. You can also leave these carrots in the ground to overwinter in many growing zones.


   Many heirloom seed suppliers sell Manpukuji carrots, including Baker Creek.


   Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, 2278 Baker Creek Road, Mansfield, Mo. 65704 (seeds@rareseeds.com; www.rareseeds.com).