I pulled all the rest of my carrots today, three and a half pounds. That includes a bit of mud that didn’t wash off but doesn’t include the several ones that split in the ground and I tossed onto the compost pile. (Area, anyway. There was so much left over after cleanup that it’s just kind of sitting around. I should do something about it, but it’s so cold out there.) I ate a few of the small ones, chopped up one many-bifurcated one for soup, and stowed the rest in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

I don’t remember what carrots I originally bought this spring, only that they didn’t come up. Then I bought Scarlet Nantes and tried again. This time they germinated, though erratically. I left them alone, except for pulling them when I wanted them and sprinkling the last of the seeds into a bare patch in midsummer, and had enough for all the salads and soups I wanted. I really like Scarlet Nantes. Some of the carrots were bifurcated, but that’s my fault, not theirs; and the taste and looks are great. Even the woody ones–and there weren’t many, even with my neglect–had vibrant taste. I plan to try Dragon and Red-Cored Chantenay next year, but I’d gladly come back to Scarlet Nantes, too.

I realized as I was washing these last carrots that I’m now spoiled. I ate garden carrots every summer as a child and enjoyed them, but I didn’t pay all that much attention–plus “baby” carrots weren’t as prevalent then–and didn’t really notice a difference from store-bought, except that pulling carrots small meant they were more tender. Now, though, I notice. We put out some store-bought baby carrots at Thanksgiving (we had most of a bag someone gave us) and they tasted sweet…and not much else. I munched on a couple of the smallest carrots this evening, and they taste like carrot. Eric commented sometime in the summer, when I sliced a fairly core-heavy carrot into a salad, “Woody or not, it’s got a lot more flavor.”

Happily, carrots are a crop I don’t have to go without for very long. My three and a half pounds won’t last until next summer, but I bet a bigger crop could, especially if I kept it in the ground. My one midsummer planting was plenty for fall and winter carrots. I plan to do approximately the same thing next year with my two varieties, to pull them when they’re mature to avoid the splitting if I can, to have more at the end of the season and maybe consider overwintering them outside; and to enjoy them as much as I’ve enjoyed this year’s.