Carrots in a clamp

We planted a crop of carrots in late January and have been steadily picking them through the winter months. This past weekend we’ve lifted what is left of the crop – a respectable 7 kilograms (minus all the leafy bits) – before they all start to go to seed. We will be turning the bed over to a crop of brassicas, kale and collard greens along with some dill.

Carrot_harvest

As you can see we grow a range of different coloured carrots – purple, yellow and white – and since we’ve been harvesting our home-grown seed over the past few seasons we now have quite a few colours in between.

We are taking several approaches to keeping our carrots in good enough condition to eat while our new crop matures. The bulk of the carrots are being stored in a ‘clamp’ of damp sand. We first saw this technique used on the The Victorian Kitchen Garden (an endlessly fascinating BBC TV series from the 1990’s that was re-released as a DVD in 2006). This technique was used to store all sorts of root crops such as parsnips and carrots, prior to the advent of refrigeration.

Carrotclamp2

It’s pretty straight forward. The cleaned carrots, with most of the green top removed, are placed in a suitable box on a layer of damp sand, (we used a 20kg bag of river sand from the garden centre) with more sand placed around and over them. The good thing is that the sand can be recycled for future use for storage or other projects

Carrotclamp1

It turns out that I needn’t have been so careful about placing the carrots, it would have been OK to have them much closer together. Anyway they are all packed away now and we will be storing them in the shade on the cool side of the house.

While the bigger carrots went into the clamp I was left to deal with a stack of what we jokingly refer to as our ‘gourmet micro-carrots’.

Baby_carrots

While they are fiddly to clean these little guys are just the perfect size for blanching for a few minutes in boiling water before I spread them on a tray to freeze.

Carrotfreeze

Once frozen they can be happily packed into bags for long term storage.

Of course we still needed to complete the cycle so before we packed it in for the day TB sowed our new carrot crop.

Carrotseed

He’s not planting a mix of sand and carrot seed here (as is frequently suggested to help the fine seed spread eavenly) – this is pure carrot seed. We’ll just stick to our standard approach of letting all the carrots sprout and thin by eating them from micro size and upwards.

 

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