The World of Carrots (cont)
By: Charlie Nardozzi
Growing to Maturity
Being a root crop, carrots love phosphorus fertilizer. Before planting, amend the soil with compost and a fertilizer high in phosphorus, such as 5-10-5. A soil test will help you determine how much fertilizer to add.
Carrots don't compete well with weeds, so take the time to hand weed the bed early in the season. It may be meticulous work, but it will pay off once the carrots fill in the bed.
Keep the planting well watered, making sure the water soaks down 6 to 8 inches into the soil. Once the carrot tops have matured, you can cut back on watering.
When to Harvest
Although carrots can be harvested anytime after the roots have formed, they will taste the sweetest if allowed to mature to full size for the particular variety. Baby carrots will mature within 60 days after seeding. Most other varieties mature between 60 and 80 days after seeding.
Once mature, carrots can be left in the ground until you're ready to eat them. However, if you have mice or voles around, beware. They can munch away at your carrot roots while the tops look unaffected. If you suspect mice damage, pull and store the carrots in a cool basement or refrigerator. If you have rabbits in the area, protect the tops with a floating row cover or fence.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Peppers and Epsom Salts
Q. I have been told that pouring dissolved epsom salts on or around my peppers will help produce thicker peppers and more plentiful harvests. Is this true?
A. Epsom salts is a source of magnesium, which is one of the 16 nutrients that all plants require. Magnesium is needed in small amounts, and most soils have sufficient magnesium for most crops. However, peppers do seem to thrive with some extra, so unless a soil test indicates that your soil is already high in the nutrient, mix 1 tablespoon of epsom salts with 1 gallon of water. When the pepper plants flower, spray the foliage with the mixture or water the plants with it. Repeat this application after first fruit set. To test the theory, you can compare some epsom salt-treated and untreated plants and see if it makes a difference in your garden.