carrots for over winter

devinvtAugust 14, 2008

Hi all, I am thinking about planting carrots for winter harvest. I am looking for anyone who has done this and how late can I plant them in the ground. What I have is an area that I am growing fall harvest lettuce and that is where I am going to plant my carrots. Should I plant them (from seed) before or after the first frost? I know that you can plant them in the spring before the last frost has hit as long as the soil is not frozen, but I am not sure if the first frost in the fall will kill the seedlings or not. Obviously I will have to mulch everything to keep the ground from freezing. Does anyone have any advice, specifically if you live near the Richmond, VA area that would be helpful but I will take any advice. This is my first time trying to have a winter crop. Thanks

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daryljurassic(OHIO 6a)

Last year was my first year growing carrots - rainbow mix. I started my second batch(winter) in late August last year and set up a simple hoop frame before the first frost. We had carrots into early January - had to shake the snow off the plastic to get to them... Not sure if that variety(s) keeps better than others. Around here they are pretty slow to get started. I'm not sure I would wait until the frost.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 1:24PM
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I will be planting my carrot seed in about 10 days from now (outside Richmond). Each year at this time around the week of Aug 23rd seems to be the best timing to be able to start harvesting them after Halloween all the way thru January. By Feb the tops are usually frozen off and most have been picked already but they keep very well in the cold ground and stop growing after Thanksgiving. I always leave a few in place to bloom the following spring as they attract benficial insects (flowers look exactly like Queen Annes Lace). As Daryl says above they are slow to germinate so weeding weekly for the first 6 weeks or so is very critical for a sucessful crop as they would be smothered fast.

BTW- all of my fall crops are planted at this same time. If you like spinach you can plant it around Oct 1st for an extra early spring harvest by mid March and it doesn't bolt as fast as spring planted spinach. The hardest winters don't hurt it either.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 2:57PM
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Have you tried parsnips? They winter over, I use to fry them after the first spring thaw in Colorado. My children would never get enough of them, they get very sweet in the spring before they sprout. They aren't carrots but they do go good in stews or as I said fried.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 8:44PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I'm actually in zone 6 (tried to change my info, but the site won't take it.) I plant carrots and beets in mid July for overwintering. Pile lots of hay on top of plants when it starts getting cold--late October/early November--and dig as needed on a warm afternoon through the winter. Easy and they last until spring. I do the same for turnips, which went in this week.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 6:20AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

So laceyvail, you don't use any kind of covering like a hoop or plastic or glass? You just mulch heavily? Hmmm. I'm also in zone 6 and I plan on trying carrots for the first time this winter. If I don't need to put them in a cold frame, that will free up space for other stuff that does need a cold frame. Thanks!


    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 9:58PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

diggerdee, right, I don't use a cold frame--just pile on the hay and tuck it tightly around the plants. The tops die off, but almost all the carrots and beets and turnips stay sound through the winter. The veggies are much nicer than those stored in a root cellar.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 6:22AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Thank you, laceyveil. That helps a lot. I haven't even gotten my cold frames built yet so that's one less I have to worry about. I'll leave my carrots uncovered by a frame and just mulch heavily. Thanks!


    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 10:10AM
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austransplant(MD 7)

I agree with the posts above. I live near Washington DC and overwinter carrots with ease. Just cover with straw or leaves, as people mention. The carrots will get sweeter with the cold. I was still pulling carrots in March. After about March the carrots get the urge to reproduce and start to develop a seed stalk and are no good.

The variety I have been using is the red core Chantenay. These carrots are not particularly long, but are thick, and the core of them does not get woody. They are fantastic carrots and really sweet, and do not require the really deep loose soil that many other varieties do. I would plant them now. I have found that carrots germinate much more quickly if after sowing the seed under a shallow layer of soil, you cover them with a strip of burlap which you keep moist. Remove the burlap when the seedlings come up. Constant moisture leads to much better germination. Sow them thick, and then gradually thin them.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 10:38AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I was thinking about this thread as I worked outside this morning, and have a follow-up question regarding the heavy mulching.

Does anyone have a problem with voles or other critters in the mulch?

I have a vole problem here, and usually don't mulch my flower beds until December or later, after the ground freezes and the temps stay consistently cold. (My veggie beds are raised and until this year (hopefully!) usually empty, so I mulch them earlier.)

I can't help but wonder if a early, heavy mulch over carrots would be giving these darn voles room as well as board, lol.

Any thoughts?


    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 12:20PM
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Thanks for the advice everyone. Looks like the over winter carrot idea is not going to work. Like I said, right now I have lettuce planted where the carrots would go, so the lettuce won't be finished until later and it will be too late to plant the carrots. I will just do some lasagna bedding there after the lettuce is done. Maybe I can plan better for next year. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 9:05AM
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