Daucus carota, or what is commonly known as carrots, is a nutrient-rich and delicious root vegetable that is effortless to include in numerous dishes.
Better yet, they are easy enough to grow and will survive even in small home gardens.
Plant them in early spring when temperatures start getting colder, and you will have carrots ready for harvest in about 60 to 80 days.
How to know when to harvest carrots? It is quite easy to discern if carrots are ready to be harvested. The vibrant-colored roots will probably be popping out of the ground and are about 3/4 to an inch in diameter.
Of course, there are other tell-tale signs they are ready for harvest, which we will talk about in this article.
How Do You Know When Your Carrots Are Ready to Harvest?
Firstly, you will need to check your seed packets to know how long it will take for your carrots to mature.
Seeds packets have all the information about your plant, including how long it is before it is ready to harvest.
If you planted baby carrots, they would most likely be ready in about 50 to 60 days after sowing.
In comparison, mature carrots will need a longer time, usually around 75 days after planting.
If you fail to harvest the carrots in the allotted time, the tops will eventually flower, causing them to become inedible.
As such, you will want to keep track of its growth.
Here are other considerations to keep in mind:
1. Check the climate in your area.
Like any crop, how long carrots will take to grow depends on the climate you planted them in.
They generally grow finest and taste better in moderately cold weather.
Make sure you plant carrots in a cold environment, as the cold temperatures will make the crop sweeter due to hydrolysis.
If it is too hot, the carrots will probably be small and have an unpleasant taste.
2. Check the color.
Checking the color is one way to know if your carrots are ready to harvest, as they will turn a vivid and bright color.
As mentioned, the tops or crowns will stick slightly out of the soil, making it easy for you to know if it’s time for a harvest.
Carrots are not all orange in color. You can find them in yellow, white, and even purple.
3. Check the size of the root.
Aside from the color, you should also check the size of the root.
They should be ready to harvest if the roots are already finger-sized or about 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter.
How would you know if it is already finger-sized?
Simply remove some dirt on top of the root and proceed to check the root’s size.
They won’t always bulge out of the ground, so you’ll have to dig and remove some soil to get to the crown.
What Happens if You Leave Carrots in the Ground Too Long?
Normally, you pull out the carrots when it has reached the right size.
Whether or not you can delay harvesting your carrots depends on the season in which you are growing them.
When exposed to hot weather, carrots can turn bitter.
As such, you will want to get them out of the ground immediately during particularly hot spells in your area.
On the other hand, if you don’t harvest them before spring, the carrot tops will bloom flowers, making them inedible.
Sometimes, though, it’s also okay to leave them be, especially in the winter months.
While it is easy to store carrots by canning or freezing, not everyone likes it. Luckily, there is another way to preserve them.
Overwintering is done when you want to protect your plant from the cold, and you can do it on carrots too.
For the carrots to stay crunchy and tasty during the cold season, you can leave them in the ground and delay harvesting.
Still, leaving carrots in the ground for too long will sooner or later make the carrot tops die because of coldness.
If you leave it in the ground in winter, the carrots turn their starch content into sugars, giving them an enhanced flavor.
The carrot roots will stay the way they are underneath even if the carrot tops die.
Still, you might have difficulties locating the roots.
How to Harvest Carrots
Like other crops, carrots are easy to harvest, whether you planted them in the ground, in a carrot bed, or containers.
Carelessly pulling the foliage will most likely result in not actually getting the carrot, except if you have very light soil.
To easily harvest and pull the carrot, here’s a step-by-step guide you can follow:
Step 1: Loosen the soil.
Before doing anything else, you will want to loosen the soil using a garden fork.
Step 2: Wet the planting area.
Another technique to loosen the soil is to water the entire area.
This way, you won’t damage the roots as you pull the carrots out.
Step 3: Pull each carrot out of the soil.
To do this, begin by wiggling the carrots to loosen the soil further.
Then, you can go ahead and pull each one out straight up.
Step 4: Remove the foliage.
Remove the foliage 1/4 to 1/2 inch over each carrot.
If you do not remove the green tops, it will produce moisture and affect the flavor of the carrot while in storage.
Step 5: Wash and store.
After getting them out of the soil, wash and dry the roots.
Then, you can store the carrots in your fridge’s crisper drawer for two to four weeks.
Some people recommend not washing the roots before preserving them, as it allows good bacteria to stay.
The decision is entirely up to you.
Do not preserve carrots with an apple or pear nearby, as these fruits produce ethylene gas that can cause your carrots to rot early.
How to Store Carrots
If you harvested more than enough carrots for your family’s consumption, you’d need to find ways to store them for longer.
Proper storage means they don’t turn soggy and bitter.
Most people find it more accessible to store carrots in their refrigerator.
However, similar to other vegetables and fruits, you can also store carrots in a root cellar.
Again, you will need to remove the green tops to avoid moisture and prevent your carrots from tasting bad.
Here’s how to store carrots properly:
Tip 1: Store them in the fridge.
You can store carrots in your refrigerator with water for them to stay moist.
Simply place them in a container that is of considerable size and then soak them in water.
Around four to five days, the water will start to look unclear.
Remove and replace with clean water before putting the container back in the fridge.
Fresh carrots stored this way will be good for at least a month inside your refrigerator.
Tip 2: Store carrots in a root cellar.
If you want to preserve your carrots for four to six months, you can keep them in a cold room.
You won’t need to wash the carrots beforehand if you decide to go this route.
Just remove the carrot greens and cover them with sand inside a bucket.
Should You Wash Carrots After Harvesting?
As a home gardener, you’ll want to be able to make sure that your harvest lasts a long time.
In this way, you can rest assured that you’ll have enough supply come wintertime.
So, after you’ve harvested your carrots, what’s next?
Would it do them any good if you wash them immediately after, or will it encourage rotting?
The majority prefers washing them after harvesting, but some gardeners don’t.
Washing carrots after harvesting lowers the risk of root staining.
The downside is that you’ll need to allow them to air-dry first before you can store them, which can take a long time.
Can You Eat Carrots Immediately After Harvesting?
The advantages of incorporating carrots into your diet are numerous, considering how highly nutritious they are.
What’s more, even kids love that crunch you get when eating fresh carrots.
You can eat your newly-harvested carrots immediately, but, of course, you’ll need to wash them first.
Obviously, the ground where you planted them contains different microorganisms that might harm your body when ingested.
Eat carrots that have been preserved via overwintering immediately after harvesting and washing.
Again, your best bet is to harvest and consume them before spring comes.
If you leave them in the ground, they will most likely flower and turn bitter when actual spring comes.
Growing carrots might seem complicated at first, but with the right tips and tricks, you’ll be able to grow them in your home garden.
If that isn’t possible, you can even try growing them in containers.
You will also find that growing them is fun and exciting, thanks to the fact that they grow quickly.
To make it even more exciting, you can plant and grow carrots with your kids.
Not only will they learn invaluable life skills, but they will also be mindful of the food they put in their bodies.