To Pick or Not to Pick: What Happens If You Don’t Harvest Carrots

row of carrot plants ready to harvest

Summer is drawing to a close now, and our rows of bushy carrot tops look promising. We like to just pull a few carrots up before a meal when we need them, and leave the rest in the ground. And we’ve been harvesting our carrots this way all summer.

If you’ve been doing the same you may be wondering what happens if you don’t harvest your carrots yet, and just leave them in the ground until you are ready to eat them.

Harvesting carrots is dependent on their maturity rather than on the seasons. There’s no specific month during which harvesting should take place. Rather you need to think about when you planted them.

The seed packet will give you an idea of how many days the carrots need to grow before harvesting, but if you are anything like me, you probably threw yours away. So you’ll need to do a taste test!

Downside Of Leaving Carrots In The Ground

If you don’t harvest your carrots within two to three months of planting there is a risk that they will become woody and lose their flavor.

Carrots that have been left in the ground too long can also develop splits or cracks down their length and those don’t store well when they are pulled up.
However, we find that the majority of carrots will cope well in the ground for longer than this.

carrot thinings small and tasty

Most Carrots Will Still Taste Good After A Few Months

Many carrots still edible after five months or more in the ground. It does depend to an extent on the variety you plant and what the weather has been like this year in your location.

Cold weather won’t bother your carrots and you don’t have to lift them before the first frost if you don’t want to

Whether or not you lift them or leave them in the ground may depend on how you intend to store them. And on what they look and taste like when you pull one or two up to taste them

Downside Of Lifting Carrots Now

If you have a bumper crop of carrots and you decide that they would be better out of the ground than left in it, bear in mind that they only keep for a couple of weeks or so in the fridge.

If you want to store them for longer, you’ll need to slice and freeze them. Or pack them unwashed in damp sand in a cool basement or garage. With a bit of luck they’ll keep there for a few months.

It’s the end of August as I write this, and I’m going to leave mine in the ground a bit longer. I think they’ll be fine for now.

Good luck with your carrot crop! And don’t forget to share your awesome carrot harvest photos on our Facebook page!

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