Did You Know You Can Still Enjoy Garden Fresh Carrots During the Winter in Illinois?
The best kind of carrot you can eat is fresh and crisp from the garden, but did you know you can enjoy that garden crispness all winter long too?
My First Time Growing Carrots
Before you start judging me, please let me say that while I may enjoy many aspects of "country" living, I am far from a seasoned gardener. Our old home in Rockford did not have a good place in the yard for a garden, and now that our new home in Pecatonica has some garden boxes, I thought I would give growing things a whirl.
This summer we planted carrots, beans, watermelons, and strawberries, and most of them survived for our dining enjoyment. (Yay me!) Here is the carrot haul I pulled over the weekend...
Just so you completely understand how green I am when it comes to growing things in a garden, (pun intended), I actually had to Google "when to pull carrots" and "how to save fresh carrots" this past weekend. During my Google search, I stumbled upon something fascinating; an article about overwintering carrots. Did you know you can leave carrots in the ground all winter and they will still taste delicious and crisp whenever you pull them, even in Illinois?!?
Sadly, we have already pulled all of our carrot crop, but next year, I want to give overwintering a try. The thought of stepping out of our back door in my winter boots to pull carrots for a stew is highly intriguing to me, and it sounds super simple to do too!
According to gardeningknowhow.com, the first thing you need to do to keep your carrots growing during the winter is to pull all the weeds from the garden bed. Next, you need to mulch heavily around each carrot with leaves or hay. Don't bother cutting off the leafy tops of each carrot, they will eventually die off in the cold, but your carrots will still be safe, sound, and delicious within the dirt. Lastly, figure out a way to mark where each carrot is so that you can find them easily when you go to pull some for dinner in the dead of winter.
How easy is that?!?
Another Overwintering Carrots Bonus
Gardening Know How also says that leaving your carrots in the ground for the winter comes with another bonus besides just saving room in your refrigerator's crisper drawer; the carrots actually get sweeter in the cold!
If for some reason you don't manage to gobble up all your carrots during the winter, make sure to pull them all out in the Spring so they don't rot in the soggy dirt. Then you can start growing a new crop all over again!
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