Take advantage of our warm fall weather. Warm days and nights mean warm soil temperatures — ideal for seed germination. And carrots can be so darn fussy and slow to germinate you don’t want to miss your window. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area or a similar climate (in the range of USDA hardiness zone 10) don’t wait.
Winter carrots are the best of the best. Cold weather develops and heightens the sugars, or sugars-up, amplifying and sharpening the existing flavors, making carrots of any other season seem dull and lackluster (although I could argue in favor of nearly any homegrown carrot). Carrots, and other veggies, grown into winter develop a complexity of flavor. Not unlike what a good heat wave can do to a summer crop of grapes or tomatoes.
Tips for growing carrots:
- Carrots like sandy to finer, loamy soils free of rocks or other obstacles.
- If you’re not working with optimal soil, choose a variety of carrot that will work with you. Try varieties of shorter carrots, Little Finger or Round Romeo’s for instance.
- Grow your carrots from seed and be sure to read and follow the seed packet instructions. This is your go-to source of information, especially when planting a new variety and especially if planting for the first time.
- Your carrots will probably be ready to harvest in about 3 months. Check if they’re ready by brushing away the soil at the base of the stem. Look at the shoulders of the carrot to be sure it looks the way you think it should.
- Try more than one variety. You never know what will take or what might thrive in your particular micro climate.
- Complete your harvest by February unless you’d like a few to go to flower — the animals would love this.
Other crops to grow at this time:
- Sugar snap peas
- Bulb onion from seed
- Fava beans