When and How to Harvest Carrots

 

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Right from the initial act of planting carrots, it's hard to imagine waiting for them to grow into crunchy-sweet roots ready for snacking. In nutrient-rich, well drained soil, you'll immediately taste that the wait was well worth it. No conventional store-bought carrot has flavor quite like homegrown organic varieties! Abundant in beta-carotenes, vitamin A, and a variety of antioxidants, carrots are extremely nutritious from roots to greens. Here, we'll show you how and when to harvest carrots (you've got some surprising options).

 
  • Carrots can typically be picked 50-80 days after planting depending on the variety. Make sure to check your seed source for the actual "days to maturity" because some varieties can take longer--up to 75 days. Take this number and count forward that many days. Mark a reminder on your calendar for when they will be ready to pick!
  • Most carrots are ready for harvest when the emerged ‘shoulder’ (or diameter) of the root is 1/2 to 3/4 inches wide. However, immature carrots (often known as baby carrots) tend to be sweeter and may be harvested earlier according to taste.
  • Water the soil before harvesting so the carrots have an easier time coming out. 
  • Pulling the root from the garden by the stems will often break off at the juncture with the root--leaving the carrot in the ground. Try loosening the surrounding soil with a garden fork or trowel before pulling up the carrots.
  • Once harvested, immediately remove the carrot greens to keep the root fresh (greens will continue to draw moisture from the root after picking). Make pesto with the carrot leaves!
  • Wash carrot roots right away in cold water, and keep in a plastic bag in the fridge if not using right away. If the roots are in the fridge but not in a bag, they will become limp and bitter. Carrots can be stored in the fridge for at least a month.

Additional Tips:

-Leave carrots in the ground if you are expecting a frost in your climate. Mulch right on top of the crop at the end of the season with a foot or two-deep of dried leaves/straw for insulation. In the middle of winter, head outside in the middle of a sunny day and dig up your orange roots! They will be sweeter after having gone through a few freezes & thaws. 

-Try harvesting carrots at 35 days for DIY "baby carrots". This also works as a technique when thinning carrots to one plant per pod in your Seedsheet. Leave some in the ground to develop into full size roots. 

-Try doing a taste test! Carrots take on the "flavor" of the soil they are grown in. If you plant carrots in different areas of your garden, you may notice varying flavors or characteristics.