Saturday, October 18, 2014

How to store carrots in the ground over winter

I have found that carrots are one of those things that most home gardeners just don't grow.  Maybe it's because you can usually buy an enormous amount at the grocery store for $5.  That used to be my opinion.  But once you've eaten a home grown carrot... you'll never go back.  They are, in my opinion, one of the most noticeably improved tasting vegetable when grown at home.
And they are just about the easiest things to grow and store.
Which brings me to this post.
So if you did happen to grow carrots this year, and you don't quiet know what to do with them, this is for you!
(If you didn't grow carrots, or have never grown them, it is definitely worth looking into, because you are missing out!)

These pictures were taken in the middle of January in 2014.
I live in Utah, and it gets cold here.  But I have found that fresh garden carrots in the middle of winter are just as possible as any time of year; without electricity, hot beds, or anything else.  All you really need is a bag of leaves.


This really couldn't be simpler.  I plant my carrots anytime from April to July.  When the weather gets cold and things start to freeze, I put a bag of leaves over them and let nature take its course.

The leaves insulate the ground enough that it doesn't freeze, and the cold temperature provides the perfect outdoor refrigerator.

When you are ready to harvest, its as easy as lifting up the bag of leaves and digging in.


The ground is very easy to work with, and at this point most of the tops are slimy and come off very easily.

I dig up as much as I need for the next month or so, or however much will fit in my fridge.

The other great thing about carrots is how much you can get in such a little space!

When you've gotten what you need, just put the bag of leaves right over the tops of the other carrots again.

And then pile some of that snow back up on top of the bag.  This helps to insulate it even more.

Fresh carrots from the garden will store easily for at least a month.  I don't bother washing them until I am ready to use them because I find that the dirt makes them last longer as opposed to water, which tends to make them mold.  Often times they don't need to be peeled either, since they are less fibrous and "rooty" as those you purchase in the store.  I put mine in an open gallon ziplock bag with some paper towels to absorb any moisture.

This bag of carrots pictured above was picked on February 24th.  I don't like to let them go longer than this since new carrots can be planted from seed in April (much much earlier if using a cold frame or hot bed).  It is convenient to plant them in the same area as well, since the soil is thawed and easily worked.  Sometimes I plant new seed after I dig them up to ensure a continual supply.  Using this method easily ensures carrots for 10 months of the year, and it is just about the least labor intensive way to do it!

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