Reader George wrote in to tell me he made the carrot cake with carrots fresh from his garden. Indeed, part of the reason this week’s project made so much sense for me is because I had quite a few carrots left in my garden as well (my girls weren’t nearly as enthusiastic about eating them as they were about growing them). Given that it’s so late in the season and it’s been so cool in Kentucky, I was surprised at how good they were. I’m not an experienced gardener, so maybe someone out there can tell me: how long can you leave carrots in the ground? I presume not past the first frost, but I don’t really know.
UPDATE: Reader Tom in Buffalo writes:
I have harvested carrots here in Western New York State as late as Christmas, They cold weather does not seem to bother them. Just cover them with some more soil or leaves and they should be fine… when you need some, just go out and pull up what you need…
Reader Bill adds:
Carrots store lots of sugar as the weather gets cold. They will make it through a light frost just fine and taste fantastic as a result.
I once heard that a little frost can actually improve carrots, but didn’t know if it was true. Very interesting.
Reader Bronwyn from New Zealand says:
We are having spring now and my carrots have been in the ground all winter. Still good, but starting to go to seed so I’m expecting them to get woody cores very soon. In the ground is the best way to keep them, so long as the ground doesn’t freeze. Apparently they are actually a biennial plant, so the tops won’t die until the second year. Not that I’ve ever let them grow for that long.