Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Winter Carrots

Planting extra carrots in May or June (in western New York State) will leave enough to cover with mulch late in the fall for fresh carrots all winter long.  Thick leaf mulch 12-14" deep extending out 12" on all sides will keep them from freezing in even the coldest winters here.  The first time a frost is forecast, 2" of mulch is placed over the exposed ends of the carrots, leaving the greens exposed to continue to grow. Then in 1 to 2 months when the forecast dips down to around 25-28 degrees F, it's time to apply the thick layer of mulch.  (Mark the ends of the rows well, and any time the winter temperature rises to 32 degrees F or more, pull back the mulch and dig up fresh, crisp sweet carrots!) When applying the heavy mulch layer in the fall, the carrot greens needn't be removed, just dump the mulch right on top of them if you like.  On the other hand, taking most of them off doesn't hurt them either: For those with a juicer, the carrot greens may be juiced along with your other favorite greens such as kale, spinach, beet or collards to name a few.  Take care to leave a few stems per carrot for the years we get an extended fall season.  
 Another way to have fresh greens longer in fall and spring: plant a more winter hardy variety of spinach the first week in August and place a cold frame over it before the first frost, leaving it there all winter.  In the spring the plants begin producing fresh leaves very early.  By the time these plants begin to go to seed, your early spring planting of spinach should be well on its way.  If you plan ahead and plant parsley in May or June in that same area the cold frame will be, you will be rewarded with late and early parsley as well.
 Please note:1- Be sure to check the temperature inside the cold frame on sunny fall and spring                                    days.  If it gets too hot it may need to be propped up a bit to cool down the plants.
                    2- There is a slight chance of small animals  sneaking under the mulch and eating                                     your carrots from the top down, but in 20+ years this has happened here only once. 

Have a joyous and blessed day!

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