Asked on Oct 24, 2013

How to Store Carrots for the Winter?

by Judy
Probably 85% of my carrot harvest looked like the photo. Someone suggested that I hadn't thinned them enough, but that's not the problem because I planted each individuall seed, at least 1 1/2 inches apart! Got any ideas what went wrong? I wanted to can carrots, but these are such a pain. I'm thinking of storing them in sand or something instead.
Do you have any experience storing carrots? What's your advice on the best way to keep them crispy for as long as possible? (And how to prevent these mutants in the future.)
I did use seeds that were coated, pelletized with some sort of fertilizer built into the coating. Think that's the reason? Thanks for your input.
how to store carrots for the winter, gardening, Probably 85 of our carrots looked like this Why
Probably 85% of our carrots looked like this. Why??
  16 answers
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Oct 24, 2013
    This depends on how long you plan to store and what equipment or conditions you have historically a "root cellar" was the ticket. the "branching roots" are normally due to heavy, dense or rocky soil. Well drained light sand to peaty soil, deeply tilled will reduce the "mutants"

    • Judy Judy on Oct 24, 2013
      @KMS Woodworks Hmmmm. Our soil is totally sandy loam. There is no excuse for this behavior. lol Got any other ideas? And it was totally well tilled also. It's such a puzzle! We've never had this trouble before. I'll check into the info on the carrotmuseum. Thanks.

  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Oct 24, 2013
    @Judy being the queen of procrastination, I usually harvest the last of them in November. I wash them and store in the crisper in a brown paper bag. We were eating them into February last year and they were as fresh as they were in November. Gotta love those carrots.

    • Judy Judy on Oct 24, 2013
      @Gail Salminen No kidding? Then I think I'll try that. It make take a whole separate small refrigerator to contain them all, but how much nicer and more convenient that would be! Thanks, Gail!

  • Maureen O'Donovan Maureen O'Donovan on Oct 24, 2013
    Did you "transplant" them? (moved them when you thinned them out) Carrot roots are disturbed when moved from their original location and grow berserk like that.

    • Judy Judy on Oct 24, 2013
      @Maureen O'Donovan Oh, heavens no! I do as little work as possible. lol I have sandy soil and every other year they've been totally normal and beautiful, big carrots. This year only have they had multiple appendages. I'm wondering if it's the fertilizer around the seed in the little pellet them come in.

  • Carole Carole on Oct 25, 2013
    I just read that carrots will sometimes fork or 'grow legs' due to fresh manure or even rotted manure being added to the soil prior to planting the seeds. Also if there are stones or obstructions in the soil this can happen. As to storing them - I don't have a clue!

    • Judy Judy on Oct 25, 2013
      @Carole Thanks, Carole. We have nothing in our soil that would have caused it. It is loose, very sandy, no obstructions at all. But because you mentioned the fresh manure, I am highly suspicious of the fertilizer that coated the seed. As I mentioned earlier, they were pelletized seeds, orange in color - a hard little ball of fertilizer with the carrot seed in the center. Hmmmmmm.

  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Oct 25, 2013
    Mine look just like that too. They are homegrown and I don't care because they takes so fresh and tasty. I have nothing but sand- no manure-no stones and they look the same as yours. I leave mine in the ground until I harvest or two a day until they are gone. I cut them up into pieces so the "leggy" doesn't matter anyway.

  • Judy Judy on Oct 25, 2013
    Yeah, I do that too, but it's a pain when you're going to can them.

  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Oct 25, 2013
    Is your soil rocky or heavy? Carrots form multiple roots when the primary root gets damaged somehow.

  • Judy Judy on Oct 25, 2013
    Totally sandy loam with absolutely no obstructions and great drainage.

    • See 1 previous
    • Judy Judy on Oct 26, 2013
      @Douglas Hunt Thank you very much, Douglas! After reading this in that article, 'He says that regardless of the variety of carrot you are growing, the shape and length of the mature carrot is determined when the tiny root is the size and diameter of a piece of sewing thread. This fact is true regardless of the type of soil in which the crop is grown or the time of year it is planted.Carrot seeds require soil to be kept wet after planting for up to 12 days or more depending on the temperature. This long period of wet upper soil causes water to penetrate to deeper depths, and small capillary pores in the soil continue to bring this deeper moisture up to the tiny carrot root. When the baby carrot roots need for water is satisfied it stops penetrating the ground, and divides and spreads laterally or “forks”. This “forking” occurs at whatever depth the ground is saturated when the root is the size of sewing thread, or up to string size.' I am convinced that it is the seed I used that was coated in fertilizer to begin with. Maybe it held water before the carrot had a chance to grow and therefore caused it to fork. Anyway, I won't be using that seed again. This is the first year I've had this issue. I really appreciate you steering me to that article.

  • Jessica C Jessica C on Oct 26, 2013
    Your carrots will keep very well burried in a container of sand in your basement. Then you can pull them out as you need them. So much easier than canning!

    • Judy Judy on Oct 26, 2013
      @Jessica C Thank you, Jessica. I have done that several years, but we have a lot of carrots and it takes a lot of sand hauling. But so true that it's easier than canning them. If I can get my food storage room cooler than it currently is, I may try that again.

  • Susie Susie on Oct 26, 2013
    I never have enough to store for any period but have been told that NOT washing them and storing layered in either newsprint or straw in a cool place is the way to go. This from a couple who are off grid, back to earth types. They successfully store theirs over the winter for use.

    • Judy Judy on Oct 26, 2013
      @Susie Thanks, Susie. I just don't have a cool enough place to store them like that. The basement is too warm and anywhere outdoors is WAY too cold. I've decided to keep them in the refrigerator and just hope they last quite a while.

  • Sandra Cook Sandra Cook on Oct 26, 2013
    You can actually keep in the ground over winter and dig them us as you want to use them. And also leave them and eat them in the spring, even in cold snowy climates. I've done it before.

    • See 2 previous
    • Judy Judy on Oct 26, 2013
      @Gladys Rhoads No kidding! Well, another year I will try it, for sure.

  • Lou ann johnson Lou ann johnson on Oct 26, 2013
    I have some thaughts on this . when we were small we dug what we called tater holes Potato holes. Dig a hole about 4to5 ft, round 2to3 f. deep line with straw add potatoes turnips cabbage, carrots parsnips in sections in hole or just potatoes if u wish we had two sep. holes, my mother got smart and made the holes in a setion of the barn where no animals stayed we used the same hole for yrs,Cover hole that contains vegetables with burlap and straw then cover with dirt that was dug from original hole.W e had fresh food all winter ,and leftover potatoes to plant in spring I live in Ky. it,s gets pretty cold here. This always worked for us hope someone can use our ideas ;Im 72 so that has been a long time ago but I still use some of these ways Im sure during hard times people hid food this way .my Grandmother said her mother told them they had to hide their food from rebels during war between states,,,,,,

  • Judy Judy on Oct 26, 2013
    That is exactly what I would love to do, but we're way too cold here for that. However, as you mentioned, I'm sure there are many (like most) readers who will be able to take advantage of this convenient way to store root crops. Thanks, Lou ann! I think I need to move to Kentucky.

  • Coco Tree Service Corp Coco Tree Service Corp on Oct 28, 2013
    Your conjoined carrot problem could be damage to "the growing point" of the carrot. Other popular opinions were using too much manure with high nitrogen levels. About the storing: Peat moss and a bucket will keep your carrots through the winter months. It is recommended that you do not wash or scrub the carrots before storing, the friction or abrasion can damage the thin carrot skin causing it break down faster. Trim the green tops off the carrots and place in your BPA free plastic bag lined bucket. Fill the bucket about 2/3 of the way full and cover with peat moss. You will leave the bag slightly open ( about 5 inches across)at the top. Store in a cool dry place. Here are 2 forums with discussions on the problem: Hope this helps.

  • TERRY F TERRY F on Oct 28, 2013
    We alway hose most of the dirt off and put the carrots into grocery bags tie tightly and store in an old fridge we have in the basement. We will still be eating these carrots(if there is any left) right up to next spring.y

    • Judy Judy on Oct 28, 2013
      @TERRY F Thanks, Terry. I'm wondering why the brown bag, though. I put mine in the bottom two shelves of our refrigerator, but not in paper bags. Is it because of sheltering them from the refrigerator light so they don't sprout or something?

  • TERRY F TERRY F on Oct 29, 2013
    ha ha , sorry for the misunderstanding. Where I buy my groceries they only use plastic bags. So I put the carrots into smaller plastic bags, tie tightly and then refrigerate. Works great for me.