Carrot Harvest Time – How and when to pick carrots in the garden

Carrots are easy to grow in a garden with deep, loose soil; and as you may have guessed from the name, they are full of beta-carotene. Half a cup gives you four times the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. Growing and harvesting carrots is a great way to enjoy their nutritional benefits.
In temperate climates, grow this nutritious crop almost year-round by planting successive crops and using a thick mulch to protect the carrots from winter temperatures. If your soil is hard or heavy, grow short varieties to make the most of the carrot harvest period.

How to know when carrots are ready to be harvested

Knowing when the carrots are ready to be harvested is important for a good harvest. First, check your seed packet to find out how many days it takes for the carrot variety you have chosen to ripen.
Baby carrots are usually ready for harvest 50 to 60 days after planting. Ripe carrots need a few more weeks and are usually ready in about 75 days. Most carrots are ready for harvest when the shoulders are 12 to 34 inches in diameter, but again, there is a lot of variation depending on the variety.

How to harvest carrots

Now that you know when to pick carrots, you’ll want to know the best procedure for harvesting carrots from the garden. Grasping and pulling the foliage often results in a handful of foliage without carrots. It is helpful to loosen the soil with a garden fork before harvesting the carrots. Trim the green tops 14 to 12 inches from the top of the carrot, then rinse and dry the roots before storing.
When deciding when to harvest carrots, consider how much you can use over a two to four week period. Carrots can be left in the ground for an additional four weeks or longer in the winter. Be sure to harvest the last carrot before the ground freezes.
When it’s time to harvest the carrots, have a storage plan in mind. Keep the carrots clean, without the green tops, in the refrigerator crisper for two to four weeks. They will be stored in a sandbox in a cool basement for several months. Do not store carrots near apples or pears. These fruits produce a gas that makes the carrots bitter. Carrots can also be canned, frozen or marinated for longer storage.

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