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A Bunch Of New Carrot Varieties And How To Sow Them From Seed

Multi-colored carrots.
To plant carrots in your garden, you'll need to sow them from seed.

As you plan out your vegetable garden and begin to purchase starter plants to grow, there is one popular garden staple that you'll need to sow from seed: the carrot! This crop is slow-growing and takes about 70 to 80 days for most varieties to mature.

In your raised bed, simply broadcast seed. Add in some radish seeds along with the carrot seed and strew them over about a four-foot area. The slower-germinating carrots benefit from this, because the radishes will germinate faster and break up the ground underneath.

Cover the seeds with a bit of potting soil or grass clippings and keep soil evenly moist.

Once they germinate, thin them to be two inches apart and then thin them again, to about 4 inches apart. If you have trouble thinning out perfectly lovely carrot greens, they won't go to waste: you can eat them in salads or add them to smoothies. They taste just like carrots!

If you don't have a garden plot or raised bed, carrots also grow in containers, so long as you plant varieties that are short and squat, like Thumbalina. 

Good companion crops for carrots are faster-maturing plants like lettuces, arugula, and so on. You can sow those right next to your carrot seeds and then harvest them as your carrots continue to grow throughout the season.

Q: We have aphids on our baby seedlings that we are growing indoors. I found two on a newly sprouted basil that doesn't even have its first true set of leaves yet. We also may have some white flies. What is the best way to organically get rid of these critters on such young tender plants? — Rebecca, in Montpelier

Spray the plants with insecticidal soap. This is a way to get rid of those soft-bodied pests like aphids and white flies. And after you're done with seed-starting this spring, take the pots and containers and make sure to wash off with a mild bleach solution in order to kill off any over-wintering eggs, and you'll be all set for next time.

Q: I have studied Staghorn sumac for years and I would like to share with Vermonters what I have learned, because the time to harvest the drupes is now, before the leaves come out. Sumac produces the rare fruit that is self-preserving, so while the drupes were ready for harvest back in December, they are still in fairly good shape and in any event can be used to make a delicious beverage. — Stephen, via email

Sumac does make an excellent tea and those drupes are also great food for the birds! You can visit Stephen's website for more on sumac here. One note though, that if you're planting sumac, it does tend to spread, so plant them in your yard where you won't mind if they do.

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All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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