Did you know that you can harvest carrots from your garden year round in northeast Ohio? This is possible because carrots concentrate sugars in their roots that work like antifreeze during the coldest winter months. You will need to provide them with a little protection so the soil around them doesn’t freeze solid, but as long as you can physically pull your carrots out of the ground, they will stay fresh and crispy until you need them. As a bonus, winter-harvested carrots are exceptionally sweet and delicious!
We planted our winter carrots in mid-August. It can be tricky to get carrot seeds to germinate in the heat of summer because they are tiny and need to be planted close to the surface of the soil, which puts them at risk of drying out. A tip? Water your seeds after you sow them and cover them with a board. Check them every few days and once you see that they have sprouted, it is safe to remove the board!
When temperatures began to dip below freezing, I covered these carrots with straw and row cover to insulate them and keep the ground from freezing.
Here’s what they look like in mid-December.
The soil is soft and the carrots pull right out!
By the way, do you see all of those fine, hair-like roots on this carrot? That can happen when the soil has more nitrogen than your carrots need. It doesn’t affect the taste at all, though!
Carrots get twisty when they encounter a rock or other obstacle in the soil when they are growing. If you want perfectly straight carrots, be sure to to prep your soil well before planting so it is loose and easy for the roots to push through. Also be sure to thin your carrots to 2-3” apart so they don’t twist around each other as they grow. Check out this silly guy!
Winter carrots are a real treat – this one barely made it home with me.
Why not pick up some for yourself at Countryside Old Trail School Winter Farmers’ Market this season and taste how sweet a carrot can be?