Overwintering Carrots

I’d love to have a root cellar, but we really don’t have a reasonable place to put it. So I make do with what we have.

Onions, garlic and butternut squash keep pretty well on a basement shelf, though it would be better if it was a bit cooler down there.  For the carrots, I leave them in the ground. All they need is a thick 10 inch layer of leaf or straw mulch tucked around and covering the bed. The green tops will die back but the carrots are happy to stay there all winter, getting sweeter as the weather gets colder. When I want some carrots, I just pull back some mulch, root around and harvest what I need.

Come spring, any carrots left in the ground will start sprouting new green tops. At this point, they need to be pulled up. If left too long, the carrots will become bitter and inedible.


Overwintered carrots among the violets, starting to sprout in mid-March.

Last season’s carrot seed germination rate was a disappointing 60%. But what they lacked in numbers they made up in size.

This freak was the largest. At 1.5 lbs., 10 inches long and 8 inches around, this is a serious carrot.

This freak was the largest. At 1.5 lbs., 10 inches long and 8 inches around, this is a serious carrot.

But size comes at a price. The larger carrots aren’t as tasty, but they will not go to waste. I cut the larger ones up in chunks, blanched and froze them for soup stocks and roasting. The smaller carrots were sliced, blanched and frozen for side dishes.

Overall, the carrot harvest came in around 35 lbs. for the entire season. Not too shabby.

The early spring harvest was about 25 lbs.

The early spring harvest was about 25 lbs.

I’ll cover more on preserving methods later on in the season.


8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by bhd on April 5, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    What percentage of your meals do you think you grow yourself? Your garden is quite prolific.


    • Not as much as I’d like. I have been cutting back on tomatoes and planting more variety of stuff. I run out of green beans by December, need more of those. I did plant 270 onions. That’s almost double from last year. and I have plenty of garlic. but that’s all like condiment stuff. I need more root and cold weather crops.

      Tomatoes. I just can’t quit them.


  2. Wow, I had no idea you could leave them in all winter long. Thank you! Great post


    • Thanks!
      I’ve only done carrots, but you can overwinter root crops like parsnips, potatoes and beets. I’ve pulled out forgotten onions that overwintered that were perfectly fine.


  3. Posted by Izzy66 on April 6, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Will we hear anything about winter squashes then?



    • Hi Izzy,
      Do you mean growing or storing winter squash?
      I’ll cover growing during the season. For storage, I keep it in the basement on a shelf. The Butternuts last about a 6 or 7 months. It would probably keep a little longer if the basement was cooler.


  4. Wow these carrots look awesome! They’re huge! Are they as delicious as they look?


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