What is crunchy, filling, nutritious, and sweeter the longer it stays in the cold ground? Carrots! If you sowed their seeds about 3 months before your first expected frost, Fall signals carrot harvest time. But what if your crop exceeds your current needs? Two ways of storing them are: in the ground and clamping.
One of the magical things about carrots, is that their natural sugars concentrate as they remain underground. Some varieties can be left in the ground for up to 120 days, growing sweeter each day. To store your unharvested Fall carrots, first weed the carrot patch well. Mark the plants with tall stakes, and heavily mulch with straw or dry leaves. Just be sure to harvest them before the warm Spring weather, or they will flower and become inedible.
Clamping is a traditional method of storage that can be constructed on the ground or in a container stored inside a garage or basement. One type of clamp is simply made by alternating layers of horticultural sand and carrots in a large container kept in a cool, dry place. As with storage of all harvested carrots, discard the green tops and only store those in good condition. Shake off excess dirt, but do not wash them until ready to eat.
Whether you leave them in the ground, store them in a clamp, or can, freeze, or refrigerate them, there’s nothing like a homegrown carrot. So…reap the rewards, and enjoy the fruits of your labor all winter long!