Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

How to Store Carrots

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Storing carrots in sand.

Back in the day, pretty much everyone knew how to store vegetables over the winter, but that knowledge has been largely lost since supermarkets came along. Today, however, vegetable gardening is in again and it’s worthwhile learning how to get the most of your veggie bed… including extending your harvest through the cold season. And carrots are a good example.

Carrots are easy to store. The traditional method is to put them in a box and cover them them in sand: a layer of sand, a layer of carrots, a layer of sand, another layer of carrots, etc. Then you just put them in the root cellar. That still works, but not so many people have root cellars any more.

That’s all right, because you can store them in the refrigerator in plastic bags. You can recycle plastic grocery bags for this purpose by punching holes in them (there has to be some air circulation).

For carrots that keep well, wait until frost has struck several times, in late October through to November or December, depending on your local climate: the longer the roots are exposed to cold temperatures outdoors, the better they’ll keep indoors. Dig up and wash the roots, but dab them with a dry cloth or let them dry for a few days before you store them. That will help to prevent rot. Next cut off the foliage near its base and remove the thin root tip. You’re ready to store!

Outdoors As Well

20151111BYou can also leave some of your carrots in the ground over the winter: just cover the plants with a thick mulch in the fall. You’ll need to harvest them early in the spring – after the ground has thawed, but before they start to grow – or they will lose their flavor.

Note that firm, good-sized carrots store best. It’s better to cook, can, freeze, or quickly consume small, thin or flabby carrots and any carrots damaged during harvesting.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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