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. 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.
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 🙂