Growing A Year’s Supply Of Carrots For Your Family
Do you want to grow carrots for you or your family? Enough for a whole year? Even with a small garden, you can grow enough carrots to eat fresh, preserve, and store through the winter.
Once you determine how many carrots you eat in a year, you can plant your garden accordingly. On average, a 3m (10ft) row of carrots will yield 4.5kg to 5.5kg (10-12lbs). Depending on where you live, you can grow carrots all year long. Otherwise, you can store your carrots for months or preserve them.
There are many ways to determine how many carrots to plant. There are just as many ways to preserve your harvest. Let’s take a look at all of them.
Growing Carrots For Self-Sufficiency
Being self-sufficient does mean you have to have tons of land. With careful planning and attention to detail, you can grow your own food in a small, efficient way. Carrots are a good crop for the self-sufficient garden because they are easy to grow, you can grow lots in a small space, and they store well. Let’s look at 5 things to consider when growing a year’s supply of carrots.
- How many carrots do you eat?
- Planting enough carrots in your garden
- Improving yields
- Growing all year round
- Storing and preserving carrots
1. How Many Carrots Do You Eat?
Carrots are a very nutritious vegetable. Since they store well, they can be eaten throughout the non-growing seasons. Because of this, they are an important part of self-sustainability, and it is well worth growing enough carrots to last you and your family a whole year. First off, you need to figure out how many carrots you eat.
To figure this out, simply take how many carrots you eat in a week, and times this by 52. Then you will know how many carrots you eat throughout the year. In my family’s case, we each eat about 1.25kg (2.75lbs) a week, or 65kg (143lbs) per year per person.
After doing some research, I found out that the amount we consume this is WAY above the average. Each person in the United States eats on average about 6kg (13.25lbs) of carrots a year. There is some fear that eating too many carrots can be dangerous, but you need to eat around 10 carrots a day for several weeks straight for anything to build up in your system.
Since homegrown carrots are so delicious, it is probably better to grow more than the average when growing your year’s supply of carrots. According to most recipes, a single serving is about 110g. If you eat 3 servings of carrots a week, you would need to grow 17kg (37lbs) of carrots for the whole year.
2. Planting Enough Carrots In Your Garden
So how many carrot seeds do you need to plant to grow what you need? If you follow the sowing instructions on the seed packet, a 3m (10ft) row of carrots should yield 4.5kg to 5.5kg (10-12lbs). Applying this to what we figured above, if you figure each person in your family will eat 17kg of carrots over the course of the year, you need to plant 10m of carrots for each member of the family.
This is fairly manageable even if you have a small yard or garden to work with. Think of a small garden bed, 1.2m (4ft) wide by 3m (10ft) long. If you planted your rows across this bed and spaced them every 15cm, you would have 20 rows that were 1.2m long. This would give you 24m of growing space and would produce about 40kgs of carrots…enough carrots for two people for a whole year.
3. Improving Yields
There are many ways to help your carrots grow and produce. The most common way is to add fertilizer throughout the season, but there are many natural ways to to improve your yield. Carrots do not need added nitrogen, but growing them beside nitrogen fixating legumes can give them just enough to help them grow. Carrots benefit greatly from potassium and phosphorus. You can give potassium to your carrots by adding wood ash, coffee grounds or banana peels. Phosphorus can be supplied by adding compost or green manures.
Water is another significant factor. Carrots contain a good deal of water, so keeping the soil well watered will greatly improve their growth. Make sure the water penetrates deep into the soil, other wise the carrots can be quite short and stubby.
Spacing the carrots is also important. Carrots are sown quite close together because the germination rate is quite low (only 60% of the seeds usually germinate). If your carrots stay too close together, they will compete with each other and you will have smaller carrots, thus decreasing your overall yield.
4. Growing All Year Round
If you are lucky enough to live in a temperate climate, you can grow carrots all year long. Carrots are very cold hardy and can be grown in many places under frames or polytunnels to extend the season. See our other article on growing carrots in a greenhouse for some suggestions on year-round carrot cultivation.
Even if you cannot grow carrots over the winter in your area, extending your season as long as possible lets you eat more carrots fresh from the garden so you don’t have to store them as long.
5. Storing And Preserving Carrots
There are many different ways to store and preserve your harvest, such as in a cold storage, the fridge, freezer, or right in the ground. Preserving your carrots is also a worthwhile endeavor since carrots are very versatile and can be used in a variety of recipes.
Cold Storage. Long-term storage is best then they are packed in sand and kept at .5C to 4.5C (33F-40F) with 95% humidity. They will generally store like this for months.
Refrigerate. To store carrots in the fridge, remove the tops and let the carrots dry out slightly. Then, rub off excess dirt and put the unwashed carrots into zip lock bags. They will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
Frozen. Our preferred way to store carrots is in the freezer. The frozen carrots can be added to any cooked dish you want. To prepare your carrots, but them into whatever size you like cooking with the best, and then blanch them and allow to cool. Freeze the blanched carrots on trays, and then put in bags, jars or containers. They will last well all winter long. The main downside is you are dependent on the heavy consumption of electricity to run the freezer.
Dehydrated. Carrots also dehydrate well, and can be reconstituted for many dishes. Follow the instructions of your dehydrator if you have one, or they can be easily dehydrated in the oven. Store them in small portions in airtight containers or jars.
Canning. There are many great recipes out there for canned carrots. Make sure to carefully follow the directions of your canner to properly kill any bacteria.
In The Ground. In many places, carrots can be stored in the ground all winter long. Without digging the carrots, remove the tops and firmly cover with 15cm to 30cm (6-12inches) of straw. Because carrots are cold hardy, they will survive air temperatures below 0C, as long as the soil stays around the freezing mark and higher. This is a practical method if you live in a Zone 4 area, and many people have had success in Zone 3. I have always wanted to try this, but we live in Zone 2b, and our frost depth goes down 2.4m (6ft), even under a bed of straw.