Q&A: Homegrown Winter Carrots
What's the difference between winter carrots and early varieties, how can we avoid carrot flies and is it possible to store carrots long-term? Read my Q&A down below to find out!
This is the time of the year when I can start enjoying the hard work I did with the sowings last spring. I won against the slugs! I have an entire arsenal of carrots stored. Nothing beats a plate of homegrown, grated carrots in winter! This is the vegetable to go for if you want to start becoming self-sufficient. Remember that.
A few of my followers on Instagram were surprised to see me get carrots from my clamp in the greenhouse the other day. People want to know which variety I'm using and when I sowed it. That's why I decided to write this article with a Q&A about winter carrots. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to take new pictures of the clamp today. Too much going on with my kid's studies and ice-skating trips lately. I'm going to make a video of the clamp and how it works soon though! Until then, I want to show you a few pictures of the carrots I harvested in October last year. Don't forget to check out the links in this post for more inspiration on how to grow carrots at home.
Before starting the Q&A, I just wanted to give you a short update on the carrots that we can grow in our gardens. Here in Sweden, we can choose to buy seeds for either spring/summer or winter carrots. Both are of course regular carrots, but we grow them for different purposes. The spring carrots can be harvested early and we harvest the winter carrots later in the season. We might see them as different mainly because of the time we grow them, but I recommend thinking of them as two different types of carrots. This is because they have very different properties.
Q&A on Winter Carrots
Which variety did you use?
I sowed winter carrots three times in early 2020. One winter sowing of Chanteney that the slugs ate in spring. Then, I did two new sowings of Rothild and Autumn King, which the slugs also managed to get to. I tried a new sowing of Rothild and Autumn King after that. So last year's harvest consists of several different varieties. I just adore Rothild and Autumn King that produce long and broad carrots that are less cone-shaped than the Chanteney ones. All the varieties in my bed right now are winter carrots. I grow my early carrots separately and harvest them in late spring, summer and fall.
When did you sow your winter carrots?
I did the first sowing in winter after the soil thawed. I don't remember the exact time. Then I did a few more sowings in April and maybe even early May. A late sowing of winter carrots is going to produce relatively small carrots. This is not optimal of course, but it's sometimes the best option when the slugs are lurking around the corner. For me in zone 3, I get the best results doing a winter or early spring sowing.
What's the difference between early/spring carrots and winter carrots?
The early carrots grow fast and you can harvest them early. These varieties are relatively small and they don't do very well if you leave them in the beds too long. This can cause them to break. The winter carrots however take a longer time to develop and can grow very large. One single carrot can weigh up to around 1.1-1.7 pounds and still have a nice texture. You can harvest these carrots for a long time and they stay fresh until the following summer if you keep them in a cool space.
How do you get rid of carrot flies?
I don't. Get rid of them, that is. They manage to stick around no matter what I do, it seems. I have them in my carrots too, but not so many that I need to get rid of my crop. I always make sure to rotate the carrots and never grow them in the same spot several times in a row. This helps!
Do the carrots grow in snow and frost too?
No, the carrots don't grow in winter. It's too dark and cold (at least up here in zone 3.) I sometimes keep carrots in an isolated bed outside but it's much better to just put them in a clamp. They won't be as bothered by snow and cold temperatures here.
How do you store your carrots in winter?
Like I mentioned before, I keep them in a clamp. A root clamp is simply put a hole in the ground where you can put your root vegetables in fall, and then you keep them there throughout winter. You can read more about storing carrots below:
Do you remove the tops before putting the carrots in the clamp?
Yes, I remove the tops before I put my carrots in the clamp. The tops wither and might even damage the carrots if you leave them on. I usually just rip the tops off and then use them as mulch.
Munching on homegrown carrots in the middle of winter is such a luxury! This is an extremely useful vegetable, especially for a family of six like us. We don't have a lot of fresh things to harvest now that it's so cold outside so instead, we just eat carrots from the clamp. I made a delicious carrot soup the other day, I love carrot gratin with blue cheese and often put grated carrots in my stews. I especially enjoy the juicy and rich taste of these winter carrots and love the feeling of knowing that I grew them all by myself.
Do you want more inspiration and gardening tips from Sara's Kitchen Garden? Check out my YouTube channel and press the subscribe button! The subscription is free and you get a notification every time I post a new video from one of my gardens. I make videos about everything from creating bouquets to country house renovations and of course, growing vegetables. Check out some of my favorite videos down below!
A beautiful Swedish cottage garden
Winter Gardening with Monty Don
Growing vegetables in compost
Mixed yellow bouquet