Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Harvesting Beets and Carrots
The first frost visited us this morning, pretty light though and much later than I thought it would be this season, nothing was damaged. We have been busy picking and packing our beets and carrots for storage before a hard freeze sets in. It was a decent year for most root vegetables and they all seem to be of fairly good size and shape...not too big and not too small, perfect for storage in the root cellar. Most of the unblemished beet greens were picked, blanched, and frozen for later use the day before we pulled the roots.
Our carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, celeriac, scorzonera, salsify, sunchokes, and root parsley are all layered in between slightly damp soil in totes and coolers. They will remain in good condition for a long time this way. I just gave the remaining few beets from "last years" harvest to our chickens 2 days ago, they were still hard and perfectly edible over 12 months later. The chickens will slowly peck away at them as they begin to soften up.
These are Lutz beets that we grew for the first time this season, they are supposed to be a good storage beet that I learned about on Throwback at Trapper Creek's fine blog. After I took these pictures I also covered the top of these beets and carrots with a couple inches of soil.
This perfectly edible beet has been in storage for just over 12 months.
A Mammoth Red Mangle (beet) from our own saved seed. They are colored like Chioggia beets on the inside.
Bull's Blood beets are the grandson's favorite because they make his teeth look bloody. What can I say, we do what we can to get the lad to eat his veggies.:) He will eat them raw just like an apple. If you hill dirt over the roots of this variety they can be left in the ground to provide greens throughout the winter months.
My wife's favorite Flat of Egypt beets. Peering at us in the background, Gimpy, is back on garden patrol as she has once again injured her leg...or perhaps she is smarter than we think and just faking it.
My favorite Cylindrical beets grow well, taste great, and are easy to work with in the kitchen. They must be picked before a hard frost though as they do tend to stick up out of the ground quite a bit.
Giant Yellow Eckendorf can reportedly weigh up to 20 lbs, fortunately ours never get that big...what would we do with a 20 lb beet? I would only have to grow one or two.:)
Detroit Dark Red is a good all purpose beet that produces my favorite beet greens.
New to us this year, Crapaudine. For what it's worth, Baker Creek says - "In 1885, the French book, The Vegetable Garden stated this is one of the oldest varieties. Today some experts feel this may be the oldest beet still in existence, possibly dating back 1000 years. This unique variety is one of the most flavorful, with carrot-shaped roots that have rough, dark colored skin which looks like tree bark. Inside, the roots are very dark, with almost black flesh that is of superior quality and sought after by chefs who want real flavor. We are proud to offer this rare old selection."
This was one of the best years we have ever had for carrots. Our main storage varieties are Chantenay, Imperator, Danver Half Long, and Nantes.
Imperators are not the very best storage carrot but they always grow well in our loose soil.
We grew a variety of "novelty" purple, white, red, and yellow carrots this year too. The whites bolted, the purples struggled, but the Solar Yellow carrots may become a main crop carrot for us as they did so very well. I will have to see how they hold up in storage. I should mention that I found the reddish colored tops of the purple carrots so interesting that we incorporated them into many of our summer stir fry dishes...yes, you can eat carrot tops.:)
And last but not least here is a picture of some of the carrots I grew from our own seed. They are a cross between three different types that I re-planted and let go to seed last year. We ended up with a variety of shapes and sizes but nothing too special.