QUESTION: How long can you leave carrots in the ground? Will the flavor be better if harvested when smaller? -Jerry T.
ANSWER: You can begin harvesting carrots as soon as they are of size and sweet enough to eat, but how long you should leave them in the ground depends on the season you are growing them. If you’re growing carrots for a summer harvest, they should be pulled as soon as they are ready (on average, 70 to 80 days after seeds are sown). Exposure to hot weather can make carrots bitter, so if an especially hot spell occurs, you should pull up all your carrots to prevent losing them to bitterness.
In colder seasons, when carrots are grown for a fall or winter harvest, you can leave them in the ground until you are ready to use them. The exception to this rule is when carrots are grown in a region that gets cold enough for the ground to freeze. If the ground freezes in your area, make sure to pull up all the carrots in your garden soon after the first heavy frost, unless you plan to protect them from the cold.
How long can carrots stay in the ground?
Carrots may be left in the garden as long as the ground does not freeze. In warmer climates, this can mean staying in the ground well into fall and even into winter. If you have planted them late enough so that they do not get too big and become pithy, you can leave carrots in the ground and harvest one by one when you need them. Beware that significant rain after a dry spell cracks them open, so harvest if there is a danger of a rainstorm.