January 07, 2013

Winter Carrots, and Why Succession Sowing Is Legit

We’re a week into January (as in, the middle of winter), and I just harvested the very last of the carrots from my garden. Harvesting carrots in January is awesome.

Carrots harvested in January from an Oregon garden

I probably wouldn’t have these extra-sweet winter carrots (exposing some veggies to frost—including carrots—actually makes them sweeter) if it weren’t for my dedication to succession sowing. This technique simply means sowing a crop not all at once, but in succession. I planted carrot seeds about five different times during 2012. I planted some in really early spring (those didn’t make it for some reason—I think because of heavy rains right after planting), in early spring, in mid-spring, in later summer, and in fall. Some I harvested young, and some I left in the ground longer. All in all, I had carrots ready to harvest at multiple times throughout the year.

I highly recommend succession sowing. Anytime a space opens up in your garden, for the love of all things holy, plant something else there. Use every square-inch of your space strategically to get the most food out of your soil.

Now, admittedly, these carrots aren’t gigantic. Someone (deer, rabbits, I’m looking at you) munched much of their tops off several weeks ago, stunting their growth. But they are beautiful. The burgundy-skinned ones are called “Cosmic Purple,” a variety available from Botanical Interests seed company. Also: January. (I love you and your mild ways, Pacific Northwest.)

Slices of Cosmic Purple carrots on a cutting board

Aside from taking advantage of a mild climate, you can achieve a four-season harvest by growing crops under season-extension helpers such as cold frames, row covers, or a hoop house.

If you garden, did you keep anything growing past the “typical” gardening season? Are you still harvesting anything right now? If so, I’d love to hear about it! But right now, I’m going to go eat some carrots while dinner is still in the oven ...


  1. Shelley, I just ordered some Cosmic Purple seeds last weekend! It's going to be tough to grow them here in Kansas. I admire your great success with carrots in the Pacific Northwest--despite the rabbits and deer. --Rebecca

  2. Thanks for the comment, Rebecca! You'll have to let me know how your cool Cosmic carrots do this year.

  3. Fantastic little winter harvest and blog Shelley! Thank you

  4. I grew 'Cosmic Purple' last year and my kids just loved them. A carrot harvest in January is definitely something worth celebrating!

  5. Thank you so much for reading and for the comment, Colleen. I'd never grown this carrot variety before, and it's kind of funny how much more exciting it is to grow something that's just a different-than-we're-used-to *color.* I was just reading about your "2013 Garden Plans" over on your site. I'm interested to know what your plans are for corn that you alluded to. I was just working on an article that included info about a "squirrel-proof" corn; it's a Native American variety called "puhwem." Might be one to check out. Here's a bit more info: http://www.motherearthnews.com/grow-it/puhwem-mother-corn-native-american-variety-zb0z1212zsto.aspx.

    Best of luck to you in your garden this year!

  6. Those really are gorgeous carrots. And thanks for the reminder--at this time of year I can usually poke around in my garden and find a bit of something good to eat buried out there...

    1. OK, no joke, I just yelled out (loudly) to my fiancé, "Oh, wow! The Rowdy Chowgirl left a comment on The Rowdy Radish!" :) Thanks for the comment. I hope you find something good out there in your garden. I think the only harvestable things I have left in mine at this point are kale and chard. (Kale amazes me. It just laughs at frosts and pests and other crop-killing things.)