Last Harvest, First Harvest

parisian-carrots-compressed

Today I dug the very last of the potager’s 2016 crops: “Parisian”carrots.  This is the first time in forty years that I’ve left crops to overwinter in the garden.  Always before, everything not eaten immediately was harvested and canned, frozen, dried, or dug and stored.  Now that I’m 70, I view things a bit differently.  Why should I use all that time and energy to dig carrots and carry them to the basement to store in bins of  moist sand?  That sand is too dang heavy to tote down the stairs.  And then the carrots must be brushed to remove the sand and carried back upstairs.  So, as a trial I left one short 2′ row in the potager just to see what happened.  Actually, I expected them to freeze and turn to mush, especially when we had below zero temperatures with no snow blanket to insulate them.  And, although I’d debated covering them with a tunnel or some other protection, I procrastinated so long that winter was well underway and I shrugged, “Why bother?”

The Parisian carrots (shown above with a standard teaspoon for size relationship) were selected as the trial variety because I liked them least of the eight kinds planted.  I didn’t hesitate to make them the sacrificial test group.  Initially, they were an impulse buy because those little round carrot balls just looked so darn cute on the seed packet.  parisian-packet-compressed  And, they are French, or at least they have a French-sounding name.  Shouldn’t  a proper potager have some French veggies?  I also justified my purchase by recalling how poorly carrots had performed in the past in Indiana’s hard clay soil.  However, the new potager has lovely raised beds and decent soil (although it needs improving) so there is no reason to use only the top 2-3″for carrot growing.

The 2017 garden plan has no room for Parisian carrots.  They are a waste of good space, when I can double or triple the poundage by growing longer carrots in the same amount of footage.  That tiny little colander was all the harvest from 2′!  And I HATE peeling them.  (Younger ones can be scrubbed with a brush and eaten skin on, but these were hairy adults.) And they have big cores and not great flavor, at least to me in comparison to the others.  (The others:  Little Finger, Royal Chantenay, Nantes Mini Core, Danvers Half Long, Scarlet Nantes, Red-Cored Chantenay, Adelaide)  But I will definitely plant more carrots later in the season this year to winter over in the potager beds.  Definitely next winter there will be a tunnel over them for protection, or at least a good layer of mulch, and whenever the ground is not too frozen I will dig beautiful, fresh carrots.

I was a bit sad to dig the last crop from the potager, but as I gathered up the carrots I noticed a tuft of green in the south interior border.

chive-compressed

The chives were already  4″ tall so I merrily snipped some at the base.  The first harvest for 2017!  Last harvest and first harvest all at once.  That’s plenty of reason to smile 🙂

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About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
This entry was posted in gardening, harvest, kitchen gardens, Potager, preserving, raised beds, Uncategorized, vegetable gardening and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Last Harvest, First Harvest

  1. What a nice turn-out to an experiment. I’m glad you braved it out and sacrificed those little orange carrots . I think you made lemonade out of lemons.
    Don’t you sometimes wonder why some varieties survive in the seed market when they’re really not very good?

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    • carolee says:

      Over the decades, I’ve watched hundreds of varieties come and quickly pass away…some I actually loved, but can’t find any more. Big seed companies are pretty quick to drop anything that doesn’t make a profit. I think the growing interest in children’s gardening keeps those baby ball carrots and other colorful or strange things available.

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  2. Rita Rosol Shields says:

    Ha ha, Carolee…I enjoyed your comments on these carrots. Your garden thoughts are are always interesting, educational …and entertaining! Thank you.😉

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    • carolee says:

      Thanks, Rita. Having so much fun gardening these days, and enjoy sharing experiences with all my gardening friends. Bet your garden is well underway. We have snow in our forecast!

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  3. Loretta says:

    What a wonderful surprise for your first harvest in the dead of winter 🙂 Your plan worked a treat I’ll have to say. Those carrots look quite special, what do they taste like?

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    • carolee says:

      Most of the carrot is core, with that bland, slightly sharp flavor. I can’t get my husband to eat them raw. They are ok for throwing into the food processor to mix with other things, but I won’t bother with them again even though they are cute.

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  4. Carolee, I would be tempted to try those cute carrots also. Thank you for the advice to skip this variety. Which varieties are your favorites? I tend to grow the classic nantes because my kids love that variety.

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  5. We pulled our last harvest last week too – leeks, winter salad and some surprise potatoes that we didn’t know were there! Looking forward to starting on this year’s planting now – just waiting for it to warm up a bit

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  6. jane says:

    I love the idea of your gardening years connecting!

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  7. jpe988 says:

    Glad your Parisian carrots survived the winter, even if they’re not your favourite variety. I’ve never succeeded in getting carrots to overwinter in the ground, but not because of the cold – quite the reverse! Where we live in north-west England we don’t get much snow or frost in winter, so slugs, snails and other pests can continue their work all year round.I’ve had more luck with parsnips (do you grow those in the USA?) and leeks – I assume because the slugs don’t like them much.

    Best wishes for a successful growing season in 2017!

    John

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    • carolee says:

      We do have parsnips in the U.S., but I didn’t grow up eating them. I have tried to grow them in the past, but most didn’t germinate. What did were very thin and froze to mush over the winter. Thinking of trying again now that our winters seem milder. I’ve seen your European slug and snails…giants compared to ours!

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      • jpe988 says:

        Yes, I’ve had problems getting parsnips to germinate too. Some people soak the seeds for 24 hours before planting, but I’ve never found this much help. The only thing that seems to work for me (and even then not always) is to pour boiling water into the furrow where I’m going to plant the seeds just before sowing, and then cover everything up quickly before the heat dissipates. I was given this tip by a hard-of-hearing neighbour who thought I was talking about PARSLEY – but it seems to have the desired effect for parsnips too.

        Good luck if you do decide to grow them next year – they’re delicious roasted with a little Parmesan cheese!

        John

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Amie Lucas says:

    Hi Carolee,

    I’ve been wanting to experiment with growing over winter but I’m not quite sure how to start or even if it’s possible in my zone. Did you have to do anything special for the carrots, like cover them during the night?

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    • carolee says:

      I was lazy and didn’t do anything at all. Not sure that would work if our winter had not been unusually mild, but I’ll try it again. I’m planning to do a couple of poly tunnels (ala Mother of a Hubbard blog) this autumn just to increase my odds of success if the “lazy” approach doesn’t work. We’re zone 5.

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  9. We dug the last of our carrots in late Feb, too. What a wonderful winter treat. Last year we weren’t so lucky with sustained super cold and no insulation, but this year we just had a quick plunge to zero territory and no harm done. Love lazy gardening.

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