Why plant carrots?

Freshly dug scarlet nantes carrots.

I live in the carrot capital of Ontario. The town a few minutes to the north of us hosts a yearly carrot festival. Carrots fill many of the fields that surround our community.
And when it comes to locally grown, I can buy carrots grown and picked within 20 kilometres of home at $2 or less a bag from the local grocery nine or 10 months of the year.
And yet, I still plant a few rows in my garden every year.
Why? Mostly for the taste. For the past few years, I have been buying scarlet nantes heirloom seeds from Hawthorn Farm Organic Seeds in Palmerston. A reliable crop even in heavy soil, the carrots are sweet, bright orange and only slightly tapered.
I plant them thickly in April and thin to about 5 cm apart when the tops are 10 cm tall. I start to harvest in July, when they are still babies, picking alternate carrots to give those staying behind more room to grow. We eat most of them raw — packed in lunches and shredded in salads. But, as the weather gets colder and the carrots bigger, I dice and slice them for soups and grate them for pasta sauces or muffins.
I pick as needed until the threat of a heavy frost. (Carrots will tolerate light frost.)
Carrots can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks or packed in slightly damp sand in a cool spot like the garage for months.


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