Carrots are one of the easiest vegetables to grow, but adverse weather can cause them to do strange things, according to a Cornell University research report. At favorable soil temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees F., Chantenay, for example, will have normal wedge-shaped roots. But if the roots develop at soil temperatures of 40 to 50 degrees, they will be long and pointed, and at 70 to 80 degrees short and stumpy.
In nearby areas, carrot seed should be planted outdoors about April 10. But don't plant anything unless the soil is dry enough to work. If worked when wet, the soil will become hard, compact and cloddy and it may take a long time to restore it to a good condition. Don't even walk on it when it's soggy wet.
Squeeze some soil in your hand. If it forms a compact mass and does not crmuble readily when released, it's too wet to work.
Normally, seeds of spinach can be platned outdoors about March 10; cabbage plants and onion sets, onion seed, garlic, English peas and Sugar Snap peas about March 15; asparagus and rhubarb plants and seeds of chives, radishes, turnips and watercress about March 20.
About April 1 plants of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, horseradish and head lettuce can be planted outdoors, as can seeds of mustard, parsley, parsnips, salsify and shallots.
Directions on the seed packets will tell how deep to plant the seeds, how far apart, and how long it usually takes for them to sprout.
Sometimes seeds do not sprout. Usually it they were planted too deep or died because of too much or too little moisture.
The seed contains an embryonic plant and a supply of food for it, surrounded by a protecitve coat. To germinate, the seed must be viable (the embryo must be alive and capable of germination) temperatures favorable, enough oxygen, and moisture just right.
If planted too deep, the seedling may not be able to reach the surface before its supply of food is exhausted.
Seeds have great absorbing power; in fact, in storage seeds can absorb moisture from the surrounding air. That's why it's so important to store them in a dry place.
A fluffy soil dries out much faster than tilled, settled soil. Very small seeds that should be merely dusted on the soil surface are particularly hard to keep moist, because the soil surface dries out so quickly. Q: I want to grow some vegetables in our back yard this year, but the only place available gets little or no sunlight. What can I plant there? A: Sunlight is absolutely necessary to produce healthy high-quality vegetables. You can get some growth in a shady location from lettuce and a few other leafy kinds, but the quality will be poor. Q: Is there an effective way to control slugs in my vegetable garden without using poisonous chemicals? The place was overrun with them last year. A: Researchers at USDA Agricultural Center found that during one four-day test, beer in shallow pans caught more than 300 slugs. Stale beer worked as well as fresh beer. They did autopsies on the dead slugs and found their stomachs loaded with beer. Q: Would it help to work oak tree leaves into the soil of our vegetable garden without first composting them? A: Chop them up with lawnmower and then mix them throughly with the soil. Don't use more than a two- or three-inch layer because it might be harmful. Q: There are a lot of tiny holes in the bark of my pine tree. Is it serious? A: They are probably due to sapsuckers. They pass through in late winter on their way north and stop here and there to feed. The small holes usually heal without any treatment. Repeated attacks year after year may endanger the tree. Q: I try to grow blueberies and grapes and blackbirds ruin them every year. Is there a way to stop them? A: There are three alternatives, none of them very satisfactory: limit the attractiveness of your garden to birds; limit the birds' access to the garden; or eliminate the birds. Q: We have six rhododendrons in one bed and six azaleas in another. They were planted five years ago, have grown very little and bloomed even less. Do you have any suggestions? A: They were probably planted too deep, or sank too deep in the soil after being planted. Dig the plants and replant them so their roots are barely covered with soil. Firm the woil in the planting hole by tamping with your foot, before putting the plants in it. This will help keep them from sinking deep into the soil.
Q: We have two lovely Norfolk Island pines as house plants. Why do the lower branches dry up and then fall off? A: The Norfolk Island pine needs very good light, preferably filtered sunlight. It also needs higher hymidity than is found in most homes. Lack of either of these conditions would caruse the plant to lose its lower branches. Q: I have just rooted the top of a pineapple plant, following your directions. Please tell me how to take care of it. A: Plant it in a six-inch clay pot, give it full sunlight if possible, at least very good light. Water the plant whenever the soil starts to feel dry. Best temperatures for the plant in the home are 75* to 80*f. Q: There's a white, cottony substance on the leaves of my African violets. What is it and what can I do about it? A: It's probably the secretion s of mealybugs. Remove them with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Repeat every u/ days for two or three months to get new ones that hatch from eggs.