joy of experimentation

The Joy of Experimentation – Can I Overwinter Carrots?

I’ve been on Cloud 9 this weekend, and all because of the seven misshapen, ugly carrots in the picture They’re the results of a partially successful experiment from last summer, which, after all the money-saving talk, has provided me with a timely and joyful reminder as to why I love this splendid hobby of growing veg.

Carrots for Christmas?
In July last year, I made an off the cuff sowing of carrots into pots. I had this idea that I could get a crop for Christmas Day, and having seen carrots in the shops all year round, I thought it must be possible to grow them whatever the season. How else do the farms supply the supermarkets, I wondered to myself.

Once the carrots had reached the seedling size, I tipped the pot out and planted them on my plot. I’d used the quick cropping Early Nantes variety and figured if I could get them to establish, then I might get a new crop of carrots with my turkey.

No Carrots for Christmas
When the seedlings got bigger, I thinned them out and left the baby carrots for the winter. Christmas came, and nothing was doing. Rubbish, I thought, but then it had been a fun experiment, and I was more than happy with my dapper new Christmas shirt to worry about a few failed carrots.

Overwintering Carrots?
The thing is, though small, these tough little carrots survived all the snow and freezing weather that December threw at them. The white stuff covered the carrot tops, but still, they fought on, and not only that, they carried on growing.

The growth was very, very slow, but it was happening. After I’d noticed this, the short row of carrots was my first port of call when I took a trip down to the plot. Every time I checked them I smiled because, seemingly against the odds, I was overwintering carrots. While the snow took out my broad beans and slowed the growth of my PSB to a crippling speed, the carrots kept on getting that teeny bit bigger.

Extra Early Carrots!
Yesterday, I pulled up half a dozen extra early Early Nantes carrots to go with Sunday’s dinner. They’ve taken nigh on 30 weeks to mature, but they’re here before most of my allotment neighbours have even thought about getting their earlies in.

Excuse my smugness please, but I can’t explain how happy this carrot episode has made me. Finding out new growth possibilities and techniques by accident or trial and error is one of the things I love most about growing fruit and veg. I’m sure overwintering carrots are nothing new, but yesterday I felt like a pioneer in my own lunchtime.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that you can follow the multitude of excellent books so far, but for me, the most exhilarating feeling is when I try something different, and for no rhyme or reason, it works.

All Year Round Carrots?
My carrots were two months late for Christmas, but that’s fine by me, as instead, I’ve got a tasty batch in early spring – a bonus when there isn’t much else about.

I’ve also left my fully grown maincrop carrots in the ground over winter, protected by a sheet of fleece, and they’re still mightily delicious despite their age. Suddenly, my mind is full of thoughts and theories of year-round carrot crops, and all because I stuck a few seeds in a pot out of curiosity.

I love allotmenteering.

5 thoughts on “The Joy of Experimentation – Can I Overwinter Carrots?”

  1. What’s not to love? That’s brilliant. I must try that. I think extending the season is one way to get better payback on whatever the outlay on seeds etc is. I feel all inspired! And yes, experimenting must make the success all the more enjoyable.

  2. Brill – Deffinately going to try that one! thanks for another quality Jono tip – PS whereabouts are you because A) I want to come over for Sunday dinner and eat some of your carrots and B)I want to borrow your tiller :0>

  3. Thanks for the comments.

    JB – I’m in Essex, but you’ll have to be quick because I didn’t plant many!

    And you’re welcome to borrow the tiller any time!

  4. Gosh, good for you! I tried overwintering carrots too but I gave up on Boxing Day – went to pull some up and they were titchy. So they got eaten raw, and it was hardly worth it. Drat. I really wish I’d waited! I wonder if they’d survive the minus twelve temperatures we had over winter ..?

    1. We did have a few minus 10 days, but its very mild here compared to Scotland!

      I also left some Autumn King in under fleece and they’ve got massive! Picked a real stonker at the weekend!

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