As winter approaches you probably still have a number of carrots in the ground that you will want to store for use over the winter months if they aren’t going to go to waste. By now you may well be pretty sick of eating carrots, and your family and friends equally so. This is another good reason to store your surplus carrot crop so that you can enjoy delicious ‘fresh’ carrots in the colder months when buying them in the shops would be your only other option. There are a number of excellent ways to store your carrots, several of which I am going to cover here in order for you to determine which method suits your needs best.
1) The easiest option may well be to simply leave them in the ground assuming they are growing in a well-drained soil which will not freeze, (clay soils are not ideal for this method). Assuming this is the ideal choice for you then you will need to wait for the foliage on your carrots to die down naturally, then protect the surface of the soil above the carrots with either a wooden board or some heavy-duty polythene sheeting. Then you should insulate over the top of the cover with a minimum of a 12-inch thick layer of hay or straw, before finally securing this in place using chicken wire or mesh. You can then harvest your crop as required over the Winter months. The disadvantage to this method is that the crop is still vulnerable to pest damage, and if you need to rotavate, plow and manure your land ready for the following spring the carrots presence will prevent you being able to do this.
2) Lift your crop of carrots and find a comfortable spot to sort through them. Remove any with damaged roots and either discard, or cut away the damaged parts and use the remainder immediately, or alternatively peel, blanch in boiling water for two minutes, run under cold water, drain and freeze for later use. The healthy undamaged carrots can then be stored. Remove all but about half an inch of any foliage and then using wooden boxes line the bottom of each box with about half an inch of sand, newspaper or soil. Lay a row of carrots (not touching) on the sand before covering them with a further layer of damp sand. Continue layering the carrots in this way until the box is full, then cover the final layer sand also. Store the boxes in a cool dark place such as a shed, garage or cellar, ensuring the temperatures are maintained between 32 and 40 F. (Most gardeners prefer to use damp sand rather than dry sand for this method).
3) Carrots can be stored outdoors after lifting, by placing a layer of 7 inches (or more) of straw in a sheltered spot and forming a heap of carrots on top of the straw. Next, you will need to cover the mounded carrots with a further 7 inches of straw, and then cover this with at least 6 inches of soil taken from around the base of the mound to allow for drainage. Some people also ensure that some of the straw layers protrude through the soil covering the mound to facilitate better drainage, but this is optional.