Monday, December 13, 2010

The Best Way to Store Carrots

One day while sitting at lunch with a bunch of co-workers I barely knew, a random question popped out of my mouth: Where do carrot seeds come from? (Oh yes, I know how to fill an awkward moment.) As a relatively new gardener I had planted carrot seeds for the first time that spring, so I knew that you didn't get carrots from chopping up old carrots and planting the bits, like with potatoes. No one at the table knew (or cared, I'm sure) so I did some internet research and learned that carrots are actually a biennial plant; in the first year the leaves grow and are used to feed the root, where energy is stored for the following season's flower and seed development. Of course, we never see that stage because we always eat the carrots at the end of the first season. Later Elliot Coleman (via Four Season Harvest) pointed out to me the most wonderful consequence of this fact - carrots can be left in the ground all winter!

Last spring I planted some carrot seeds in a recycling container that had already been used to grow tomato and late zucchini crops in 2009. I knew I should compost the soil, but I thought maybe instead I would experiment with some carrots. I've never had any luck with them in our hard clay soil - they come out about an inch long with tons of skinny white roots - but I thought maybe they'd do better in a container. In late summer I picked some of the overcrowded ones out and noticed they did seem a lot better than in the past, though still much smaller than the ones you buy in the store. Recently I've been picking the remainder, and while they are still shorter than the ones you buy in the store (the tiles in the photo above are about 4" square), some of them are quite fat and really interesting. Check out the one above that looks like it split, then grew back together around the split! And the best thing about these homegrown carrots? They will keep for months, unlike the rubbery ones at the bottom of my fridge.


  1. Carrots are now DEFINITELY on my planting list for this Spring. I just have to come up with better squirrel protection.

  2. Yay! FWIW, my squirrels never touched my carrots, other than when I first planted them - they kind of rifled through the freshly disturbed soil. I think squirrels have widely differing tastes, though. (I really wish you could smack people through the internet when they tell you that squirrels don't eat tomatoes. Don't internet smack me if they eat your carrots!)

  3. Ha! I love the idea of internet smack. Although I have to admit, my experience is that squirrels don't EAT tomatoes, they pick them, bite into them, realize they don't like them, leave them a few feet from the plant, and go pick another one to see if they like it better, which they don't.

  4. lol, okay, you are right about that. i have one who sits on top of my pergola and eats about half of each one before going back for more, but i have also had some that would pull them down and not even take a bite! evil creatures!
    somewhere i read that squirrels only live for about 2 years on average (in the "wild"), so just about the time you get used to how they behave and what they like, a new generation moves in!