Category Archives: vegetable evaluation

Radish Report

The vegetable garden update. See What’s Growing Now, Including Today’s Harvest Basket and Plant Tips

The first garden harvests every year will fill the salad bowl. By May,  there will be a steady source of radish, green onion and lettuce. I’m growing a lot of Sanguine Ameliore lettuce. Greens are on their way.

Lettuces, radish and onion are waiting to be thinned out in My Garden Post*.

Keep thinning chard, mustard and, kale. Those baby leaves will also go into the salad bowl.

Try growing Watermelon or “Beauty Heart” radish from China. Since they do best in cool weather, I may have to wait and replant in the fall. I’ll wait to see if I have any left.

When you order radish seed, order extra. They are always a good spring salad accent and I will always plant them in a fall garden. Red globe radishes have plenty of potassium, vitamin C and folate.

Because they come up so quickly, use radishes as row markers as you plant other vegetables in the garden. Mix them and plant in with lettuce and spinach greens. Peppery radish sprouts are great on salad or sandwiches.

Watermelon radishes go bigger than the traditional spring radish.

Other pink, red, purple radishes are coming up sparsely. A squirrel is digging them up fast than I plant them. But I continue to reseed and have covered the radish seed with chicken wire.

We have had a few prized crunchy radishes for salads. I’m waiting for the day there are enough radishes to serve with butter and bread.

Radish Sandwiches With Butter And Salt

Heavenly spring flavor, simply a baguette, butter, salt, radish and a few herbs. It’s a very French picnic recipe. Add chives or chervil and maybe a leaf or two of arugula for a sandwich.

First baguette, butter, salt, radish and chives sandwiches of the spring. PBH.

Nobody can do Radishes with Butter and Salt any better than Ina Garten. Her version is a lovely way to show off your beautiful whole radishes.

I’ll continue to plant radish seed until it gets too hot to grow them. Then, I’ll plant them again in September and October. Fall radishes are mild and crisp.

My beautiful radishes are from

Renee’s Garden SeedsThe finest heirloom, certified organic seeds for the home garden.

Mary’s Heirloom SeedsHeirloom, open-pollinated, non-gmo untreated & organic seeds

  • My Garden Post will be replanted with dwarf tomatoes and herbs for the summer. You can buy My Garden Post from this Oh! Grow Up Blog. We both benefit. You save money and I get credit for your order. Use this code: 50offMGP at checkout to save $50 for My Garden Post with Drip Irrigation.

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In Praise of Onions in April

April in National Poetry Month

Growing onions takes very little space. Plant in containers or tuck into empty spaces between other vegetables.

The raised beds are ready and waiting to be planted. About half the onions are already in the garden.

The garlic planted last fall is thriving. Early bird chives have been up for a couple of weeks. The leeks and sweet onions are just waiting for me to work the soil and plant.

Ode To The Onion

     by Pablo Neruda

Onion
luminous flask,
your beauty formed
petal by petal,
crystal scales expanded you
and in the secrecy of the dark earth
your belly grew round with dew.
Under the earth
the miracle
happened
and when your clumsy
green stem appeared,
and your leaves were born
like swords
in the garden,
the earth heaped up her power
showing your naked transparency,
and as the remote sea
in lifting the breasts of Aphrodite
duplicating the magnolia,
so did the earth
make you,
onion
clear as a planet
and destined
to shine,
constant constellation,
round rose of water,
upon
the table
of the poor.

You make us cry without hurting us.
I have praised everything that exists,
but to me, onion, you are
more beautiful than a bird
of dazzling feathers,
heavenly globe, platinum goblet,
unmoving dance
of the snowy anemone

and the fragrance of the earth lives
in your crystalline nature.

When little onion starts arrive in the mail, they don’t look very promising.

Plant. It’s onion planting time. Onion starts and onion sets are at the garden centers now. Plant them 1″ deep and too close, thinning them out to use as green onions, spacing about 4″ apart. Choose a full sun area with well-worked soil.

Spacing depends on the variety of onion. Generally, planting to 3″ – 4″ inches apart for green onions and thinning to at least 5-6 inches apart for large bulbing onions. Proper spacing will affect the size of the mature onion.

Weed and water. Onions have every shallow roots, so don’t let them dry out. Keep onion patch weeded. Do not make them compete for nutrients in the soil with weeds. When the onion tops start falling over, stop watering. Allow the soil to dry and more of the tops fall over.

Harvest. Wait for most of the onions to fall over. You can bend the stems of any remaining upright plants, signaling the plants to enter dormancy.

At this point, stop watering and leave the onions in the ground for 7 to 14 days (depending on how dry or humid your climate is) to allow them to fully mature.

Pull onions in the morning and leave them laying on the ground to dry for a day or two.

Cure. How long your onions will keep depends on this critical step and how you handle them after harvest.

Spread the onions out in a single layer. Choose a shady spot or a covered porch. I use an open garage with good ventilation. Do not clean off the onions.

Turning the onions every few days, this curing process will two to three weeks. A shaded area with good air circulation is very important. The stems and roots must be completely dry.

The papery outer skins will tighten around the bulbs and a few layers of the dried onion skins will fall off when removing the stems. Clip off the roots and stems.

Sweeter onions won’t store as long as stronger onions. Use the sweeter onions first. Store onions in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area in mesh bags or netting to permit airflow.

My Favorite red onion recipe.

The red onions turn pink and are quick to make. Great with sandwiches or in potato salad. Keep a jar of them in the fridge for up to two weeks.

‪Pickled Red Onions‬

1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ – 2 cups of white vinegar
herb sprigs or peppercorns (optional)

Slice 2 or 3 medium size red onions in 1/4” slices.

In a small sauce pan, add sugar, salt and vinegar. Heat and stir until sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Add onion slices. Heat through and cook for 1 minute.

Add a sprig of herbs or a few peppercorns to the bottom of each container or jar.
Pack onions into pint canning jars or a container with tightly covered lid.

Pour vinegar over onions to completely cover the onions. Close the jars or containers and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Keeps up to three weeks in refrigerator.

Suggested herbs: oregano, dill, small nasturtium leaves.

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Grow your own leeks, garlic and onions

A Little Leek Love

Known best in French cooking, leeks are often overlooked in our home gardens. Leek Potato Soup, or vichyssoise, is a cold soup that every French chef has mastered. I use leeks in potato leek soup, three onion pie, and vegetable soup.

Leeks are expensive at the grocery store but you can grow them for pennies. They take up little space, have very few pest or disease problems and can be grown in containers.

Plant leeks deeper than onions. Continue to mulch plants as they grow to increase the tender white part.

Plant leeks deeper than onions. Continue to mulch plants as they grow to increase the tender white part.

Grow leeks from seed or starts. It will probably be your first late-winter or early spring crop. Onions, leeks, garlic can take a late snow or freeze.

Tender young leeks can be used as scallions or green onions.

Plant starts deep er than onions. The deeper, the better able to retain moisture. Select well worked soil with plenty of organic matter.

As leeks grow, continue to mound soil over the stems to blanch them, creating more of the white, tender part of leek. Consistent moisture will encourage tender leeks. Thin leeks to grow six inches apart.

Use only the tender green and white parts.

Use only the tender green and white parts.

Grow vegetables – Make Soup

Grow your own soup. Garden fresh vegetables are loaded with nutrients and cost very little to make. If you don’t think you have time to make soup, make a double batch and freeze half for a busy day. Make soup in the crock pot. Soup usually tastes even better the next day. What could be faster than that?

Chili, chicken and noodle soup, vegetable soup and stews of any kind are better and usually have less salt when made from scratch. I love soup and will be sharing some soup gardening and soup making tips from time to time.

Potato Leek Soup

Jazz up your favorite potato  or cauliflower soup recipe by adding leeks.

Potato soup is a winter time favorite of mine. The leeks in the garden will continue to grow and I will pull them as I need them for Potato Leek soup. Simply add leeks or replace the onions in your favorite potato soup recipe.

I make this big batch because this soup is even better the next day. You can make half this recipe, but I bet you will wish you made more.

Basic Potato Soup

Makes about 8 servings (about 2 quarts).

  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • water to cover
  • 6 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped OR, chop 2 or 3 leeks
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • nutmeg to garnish

Directions:

In a large sauce pot, cover chopped potatoes and carrots with water. Cook in water until fork tender.

Drain and set aside carrots and potatoes, reserving cooking water.

In a Dutch oven, while potatoes are cooking, saute onion and celery in butter until tender. Sprinkle in flour.

Slowly add milk. Bring to gentle boil, stirring until thickened. Add carrots and potatoes, salt and pepper. Gradually add cooking water until the soup in the desired thickness. Taste and adjust seasonings. For smoother soup, use a potato masher or stick blender. This will thicken the soup and create a smoother texture. Add additional cooking water or milk to taste.

Grate a little nutmeg to garnish soup.

potato leek soup with sausage

Potato and Leek soup with kielbasa.

Go Gourmet:

Top your soup as you would a loaded baked potato, crispy bacon, grated cheddar cheese, green onions, a dollop of sour cream or a pat of butter.

Bake: Use baked potatoes instead of boiling potatoes.

Veggies: Add a cup of frozen or fresh vegetables in the last few minutes of cooking to thoroughly heat through all ingredients. Try green peas, chopped kale, corn

Meat: Plan on adding a half a strip of crumbled bacon on top of soup. Use crumbled chorizo or Italian sausage

Herbs: Stir in chopped parsley, celery leaves, chives or thyme.

Enrich: texture and flavor with 4 ounces of sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, cream, butter. Add a little at a time.

Leeks, chopped

Chop tender young leeks to freeze for soups and casseroles.

If you do not like onions, try leeks. They are  milder and easier to digest. These mild alliums are beneficial for cardiovascular and digestive health. Research points to leek’s  potential to fight cancer.

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Today’s Harvest Basket

Wrapping up the summer garden.

Celery, baby leeks, carrots, red onion, white potatoes, mild little red peppers.

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You never know what you will get with carrots. This curvy carrot grew right next to the straight 10″ carrot in the basket.

As I clean up the vegetable beds, I discovered a few veggies that were overlooked during the earlier harvest. I found a few potatoes, a couple of carrots, a red onion and two tiny sweet peppers. While this may sound like the beginning of a stone soup story, it’s just end-of-summer garden clean up.

I planted a few celery plants but forgot about them hiding behind the hearty and fern like asparagus. Celery would have done much better if it had received fertilizer and mulch. You can see the many skinny little stalks.

That curvy carrot was a surprise, all the other carrots were long and straight. But they all taste the same.

What to do with leeks

Use the tender reen and white parts.

Use the tender green and white parts.

I gathered a few leeks while young and tender to clean, chop and freeze. These little leeks will go into soups, and a 3 onion pie. There are more leeks still in the garden. They will stay in the garden until I want to use them for soup or stuffing.

 

Leeks, chopped

Leeks can be frozen and later added directly to soups or casseroles.

You can continue to harvest leeks from the garden up until the soil freezes. Those few leeks will overwinter. Their giant globe shaped flowers will be amazing next summer. They attract pollinators and are a novel addition to a wildflower bouquet.

 

A little later into fall, I’ll plant garlic. I have a few tiny broccoli plants in the raised beds and pots. A window box of green beans are just coming up. So the pending rain is much-needed and I am grateful.

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Garden Bloggers Bloom Day 8/2015

GBBD August 2015

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Moonflower Ipomoea alba just before bloom

Moonflower Ipomoea alba just before bloom.

Moon flowers are blooming wildly on these hot August nights.

A harsh winter and long rainy spring took its toll on spring blooms and my roses. But now, in the peak of production and seed making, many flowers are blooming with endless enthusiasm.

zinnia and nicotimia

zinnia and nicotinia

 

 

 

My zinnias have been the show off flowers this summer. Using galvanized watering cans, I’ve fill bucket of the back with zinnia arrangements. All the flowers are from a few packets of seed from Renee’s Garden.

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The Neked Ladies or Surprise lilies have multiplied every year, becoming thicker and more beautiful.Surprise Lily

Since I am the only southerner in our home, okra seldom makes it into the garden. My husband, Mr TD&H, helpfully weeded all the okra seedlings out of the garden every year.

I love okra’s big, soft yellow flowers, so, I planted a few seed in the flower beds. The variety is over 8′ tall and steadily producing. Picked small, okra makes the best refrigerator pickles.

Make an extraordinary dish like authentic New Orleans Gumbo and even my California Dreamer will eat okra. Occasionally. Try my version of fried okra.

White Gladioli and purple Zinnias

White Gladioli and purple Zinnias

I was fortunate to meet Elizabeth Lawrence. In her book, she wrote: “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.”
As she signed my much used copy of the book, she said she was pleased that someone was actually putting the book to good use.

 

 

 

Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens, and leave a link in Mr. Linky and the comments of May Dreams Gardens.

It’s fun. GBBD ends up being a journal of your garden’s year round floral display.

Nicotiana alata

Little white trumpet flowers, Nicotiana alata are popping up where they please. They have volunteered from last years plants.

The old faithful geraniums, marigolds and nasturtium just keep on blooming nonstop. Rose of Sharon’s, Hydrangea and hibiscus are all in full bloom.

There is more, but you have other blogs to read and I need to water my flowers.

Thank you for stopping by. My garden is in southeast Missouri, zone 6b. There are porch chairs on every side of the house. The sun tea is brewing on the patio.

Stop by anytime to sit in the shade and have a cool drink. Should you be so inclined, there is also a pruner, a weeder and a watering can o each side of the house.

Todays harvest basket 7/9/15

Todays harvest basket

July 9, 2015

zucchini, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, green beans

zucchini, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, green beans

Zucchini is coming on daily. So far, picking squash when it is 6 or 7″ long, is working. I see a chocolate zucchini cake in our future…

Green beans  are in a small patch we must collect a few pickings for a meal. In a couple of days, cucumber production will explode. For now, there are enough cucumbers for fresh eating.

There are plenty of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes for salad every day. The few red slicer tomatoes from My Garden Post were used for the first BLT of the season.

Summer harvest of onions and garlic.

Summer harvest of onions and garlic.

Read about the garlic and onions curing in the shade on the porch. Its garlic season

Best tomato plants for containers

is all about the first juicy red tomatoes of the season. Those early  full-sized tomatoes were grown on two foot tall plants!

Bush 506. First full size tomato to ripen, 5-oz.

Bush 506. First full size tomato to ripen, 5-oz.

 

 

It’s fresh garlic season

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Isn’t this pretty? Chesnok Red Garlic spread out to dry, or cure before trimming stalks.

Garlic bulbs just lifted from the garden.

The garlic bulbs are dug up, but there is much more to do to preserve the harvest. Handle freshly dug garlic gently. Bulbs can easily bruise.

Cure Garlic

Spread out bulbs away from direct sun with good air circulation. Allow the roots and entire stalk to dry, turning brown. The bulbs are ready to clean up and store.

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After a week, braid bulbs while stalks are still flexible. Braid garlic before the stems are too dry and brittle.

Cut the stalks about an inch above the garlic bulb. Clip off the roots. Carefully wipe off the dirt with a soft brush or cloth.  Try not to remove many layers of skin.

This year I grew two kinds of garlic, Chesnok Red Garlic and California Early Garlic.

With long, warm fall at planting time, I could have waited until November, instead of planting cloves in October.

The long, cold rainy spring is also part of the reason I had a smaller harvest of garlic.

  • Herb bouquet with garlic scapes.

    Herb bouquet with garlic scapes.

    Learn more about growing organic garlic, onions and shallots.

 

 

 

 

  • Summer harvest of onions and garlic.

    Summer harvest of onions and garlic.

    Herb Bouquets include garlic scapes.

 

 

 

 

 

Try these garlic varieties

Chesnok Red Garlic

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The purple-striped hardneck has large and easy-to-peel cloves. I’m growing it because Chesnok Red is a good baking and a good storing garlic. (4 – 6 weeks.)

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Garlic scape pesto.

The garlic scapes of the hardneck garlic makes for a secondary harvest. Use scapes for vinegar, stir fry, pesto. Expect about 15 garlic bulbs per pound and approximately 9 or 10 cloves per bulb.

These garlic bulbs grew smaller than the California Early Garlic. Chesnok wins awards as an excellent baker. I’ll be using those smaller bulbs to make creamy roasted garlic.

 

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Cut these artful garlic scapes to grow bigger garlic bulbs.

 

California Early Garlic

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California garlic is one of the earliest to harvest in my region 6, Southeast Missouri garden.

The California Early Garlic was harvested two weeks earlier. The bulbs are big and white. For the past three years, I have success growing this popular American garlic.

These California Early Garlic bulbs are mild enough to be used raw in recipes or fresh pickles. This is not a hot garlic. It’s a good choice for mild garlic flavor, not heat.

Known as a long keeper, California Early Garlic is a softneck garlic, good for braiding. I like the mild flavor and large cloves. There are about 12 garlic bulbs per pound and 10-16 cloves per bulb.

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Bake whole garlic bulbs wrapped in foil with a few drop of olive oil.

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It’s Asparagus time!

Freeze It

Buy all you can, here’s how to freeze it for later.

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Big fat purple asparagus spears turn green when cooked.

 

 

 

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The best way to preserve asparagus is by freezing.

Take advantage of local farmers markets and market gardeners for fresh local asparagus. The best flavor, availability and prices will be in April and May.

How To Freeze

Wash thoroughly and break spears where they easily snap. Compost or reserve the woody stems for vegetable soup stock.

Sort spears into similar sizes. Cut spears into even lengths to fit freezer bags or freezer containers.

Prepare a large pot of boiling water and a container of ice water. Blanch no more than 1 pound of similar sized spears at a time.

  • small spears for 2 minutes,
  • medium spears for 3 minutes and,
  • large spears for 4 minutes.

Lift asparagus from the boiling blanching water and plunge them in ice water for 5 minutes to quickly cool. Drain on cotton towels.

Package, seal, label, date and quickly freeze.

Properly blanched and packaged asparagus will hold the flavor, color and nutritional content in the freezer for up to 10 – 12 months.

Fresh asparagus recipes and growing tips

  • Fresh is always best

  • Best Asparagus Recipe

  • Purple Passion Asparagus

Visit the local farmers market or grow your own.

FRESH IS ALWAYS BEST

Asparagus grows so fast you can almost see it. In good weather, an asparagus spear can grow 10″ in a 24-hour period. Each crown sends up spears for about 6-7 weeks during the spring.

The outdoor temperature determines how much time will be between each picking. Early in the season, there may be 4-5 days between pickings and as the days and nights get warmer, you may have to pick every day.

It is a lot of hard work to establish a good asparagus bed. Considering that the plants will produce steadily for about 15 or 20 years, it’s worth it to give asparagus crowns a good start in a permanent home.

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I bought asparagus crowns at http://www.gurneys.com

The diameter of the spear does not indicate the quality or flavor of the vegetable. As the plants become older, the stems become larger in diameter.

Asparagus is high in Folic Acid and a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamine.

  • Stock up on asparagus while it is fresh and locally grown. Freezing is the best  way to preserve the color and flavor.

BEST ASPARAGUS RECIPE

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Fettuccine with asparagus, nutmeg, fresh lemon, Parmesan cheese.

My favorite asparagus recipe

Fettuccine with Asparagus

8-10 fresh asparagus spears (or one bunch)
3 Cups water (salt to taste)
10-12 ounces fettuccine
2 Tablespoons butter (or 1 tablespoon margarine and 1 Tablespoon olive oil)
Juice of one small lemon
freshly ground pepper to taste
freshly ground nutmeg to taste (1/4 teas)
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Cut each spear on the bias in one  inch lengths. Bring water to boil (add salt to taste). Add asparagus, when water returns to boil, cook one minute.

Drain and reserve three or four Tablespoons cooking liquid. Drop fettuccine in water, cook to Al Dente. Drain.

Heat butter in pot that cooked fettuccine. Add asparagus, pasta, pepper, cooking liquid and lemon. Toss to blend.

Sprinkle on nutmeg. Serve with cheese on the side. For variety, add a couple of Tablespoons of toasted walnuts or chopped parsley.

g06405Enjoy this original recipe for Fettuccine with Asparagus

◊ Must try recipe for Sweet and Spicy Szechuan Asparagus from the California Asparagus Commission.

◊ Growing Asparagus in Missouri guide sheet

which illustrates the parts of an asparagus plant, clear care instructions and the best way to start an asparagus bed.

What I’ve learned

I started my first asparagus bed with older heirloom varieties. The plants were productive and the produce was tasty. Plus, there was a bonus, I thought. Asparagus is a dioecious plant which simply means they are separate female and male plants. Oh yea! Even the birds will be happy enjoying the red berries or seed on the female asparagus plants.

Well, those seed are the reason we think that sometimes we find wild asparagus plants. All those little asparagus plants springing up from seed, come up with the vigor and enthusiasm of a weed These cute but scrawny baby asparagus plants self seed everywhere – in the yard, flower beds, sidewalk cracks and vegetable garden.

PURPLE PASSION ASPARAGUS

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This time, as I establish a permanent asparagus bed, I’m starting with

Asparagus officinalis “Purple Passion”

Purple Passion asparagus has burgundy colored spears with 20% more natural sugar than green asparagus. The sweet, tender, almost nutty flavored stalks are both cold and heat tolerant.

Very productive. Male and female plants. Self-pollinating.

 

You might also like  It’s asparagus time!  – How to select and freeze.

Look for my ASPARAGUS EVERYTHING PIN

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DIY Carrot Boxes for raised beds

Grow straight carrots

(Plus, after you grow these carrots, there’s Mom’s Carrot Cake)

I’ve been making mini raised beds. Little one foot wooden boxes without a top or bottom and 8″ tall. It is a little raised bed for the raised bed.

Metal raised bed corners make for quick, easy assembly.

Metal raised bed corners make for quick, easy assembly.

Here’s how: cut four 2 x 8 x 12 wooden pieces. Cedar lasts longer, pine is cheaper. Scrap lumber makes me happy. I call it a Carrot Box because I made it to grow carrots.

Loosen and add organic matter or compost to the raised bed. Set the box in your raised bed garden. Fill with a light soiless mix.

Thinly sow carrot seed. Cover. Firm. Water. Details are on my hub page Grow carrots weeks ahead of the last frost.

For the best results, thin the carrots to 2″ apart.

Using a double-deep container with extra fine soil will be the key to growing carrots. It is critical that you fertilize and water carrots regularly.

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“Sunshine Orange and Yellow” carrots from Renee’s Garden. Wonderful simply oven roasted. photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

Rose Marie Nichols McGee at Nichols Garden Nursery has one of the best gardening blogs, The Gardener’s Pantry and newsletters.

She has good information How to raise carrots without using a spade or hoe

You might like:

How can you make a soup rich?  Add 14 carrots (carats) to it.

Mom’s Carrot Cake

with cream cheese frosting

I don’t know where the original recipe came from, but it is the best.

1 1/2 Cups vegetable oil
1 3/4 Cups white sugar
3 eggs
2 Cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 Cups peeled and grated carrots
1 Cups chopped pecans
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple

Beat together oil, sugar and eggs until well combined. In a bowl sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Add to the eggs and sugar. Mix well. Drain the pineapple, add carrots, nuts. Mix well. Pour into 9 or 10 inch tube pan or a 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or check with toothpick.

Cream cheese frosting

2 (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 box powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream cheese and butter together. Add sugar gradually until complete box has been added. Add vanilla. Refrigerate for an hour, then frost cake. Use all frosting.

 

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