Do not work a wet soil
BY KEITH STANGLER
Q. You have always said to work garden soils in the fall, but I just did not get it done then. Any suggestions for tilling now?
A. First, pick up a handful of soil and squeeze it gently into a ball. If the ball breaks up easily, the soil is dry enough to be worked. Never work wet soil in the spring. You can get away with it in the fall, but not in the spring.
Q. We just seeded carrots in the garden and we are wondering how can we tell when to harvest them?
A. Boy, aren't you the optimist, but that is a good thing! Thirty to 40 days after they are up you should have carrots that are small, but big enough to eat. They will probably need thinning anyhow, so using the thinned plants only makes good sense. You can continue to harvest carrots all summer as you want them, or until you run out of plants to harvest. They can be harvested very late in the fall, even after there is an inch or two of frost in the ground.
Q. Will plastic containers work just as well as wooden or clay containers for growing vegetables on a deck or patio?
A. I prefer clay as it will breath (allow for good air exchange in the soil), whereas plastic pots do not breathe. If you do use plastic, avoid black as the roots often become too hot in black plastic containers for good plant performance.
Q. When we lived in Arizona, we had great luck growing sesame seeds. We tried growing them here last year and they really didn't amount to much. Is it hopeless trying to grow sesame here?
A. Sesame requires a long, hot growing season of at least 120 days to flower and produce seeds. If you started seeds indoors in early March, and if we have a very warm summer, you might be successful. It is not considered a dependable crop here.
Keith Stangler has 35 years experience as a horticulturist. For comment or questions call (507) 285-7739 or 1-800-562-1758.