Monday, November 25, 2013

How to Grow Carrots

I absolutely love growing carrots in my home vegetable garden. I set aside a specific 4 x 4 raised bed (a different one each year), just to grow them. With a little sun, water and nutrient rich soil you will soon come to find out just how easy it is to grow your own carrots at home.

First things first. If you want to grow great carrots, that are long, fairly straight and thick, your soil needs to be loose and friable. This soil must also be this condition very deep. Minimum eighteen inches. I say this from experience. If the soil is heavy on the clay, or gets compacted, I have found that my carrots come out short and thick. The carrots still taste great and there is nothing wrong with the carrots, but the carrots are far smaller than I would like.

Carrot seeds, regardless of variety, are small. So when planting them make sure you do not exceed a planting depth of a quarter of an inch. You may be able to get away with a half of an inch, but a quarter is all you will need.

No need to start them indoors. Carrots will do just fine when you directly sow them into your garden. As a side note, your seeds will germinate much better if your soil is a bit warmer and in the pH range of 5.5 to 6.5.

Space out the planting of your carrots about four to six inches to allow, not only for the carrots themselves to grow, but for their roots to expand as well.

Carrots will tolerate light shade, but like all other root crop veggies, full sun will do it wonders. They only need a moderate watering, but be sure to fertilize them every week to 10 days with a good organic mix or compost tea.

Carrots make a great companion plant for tomatoes. In fact there is a wonderful book on the market by Louise Riotte titled Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening, which outlines the benefits of planting carrots alongside your tomato plants.

Because carrot seeds are so small, chances are you will invariable plant more than a single area can handle, so be sure to "thin the herd" so to speak by cutting a few of them down to ground level.

You know your carrots will be ready to harvest when you see the carrot tops start poking out of the ground. You can simply judge when they "look" ready.

Monday, November 11, 2013

How to Grow Cabbage

Cabbage is not only a great vegetable to grow in your home vegetable garden, but it has a wide variety of health benefits for you and your family. Cabbage is loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C and other essential vitamins your body needs. With such a wide array of cabbage choices to grow, you are bound to find a cabbage variety you can grow at home.

The first step in growing cabbage at home is to make sure your home vegetable garden’s soil is prepared. That means it needs to be rich in nutrients and have a pH level of 6.0 to 7.5. If you have been mixing in quality compost, your soil should be fine. Cabbage is susceptible to a disease called club root. Keeping your soil’s pH in the 7.2 to 7.5 range will inhibit club root.

Start your cabbage seeds indoors about 4 to 6 weeks prior to the final frost in your area. Cabbage seeds germinate best when they are planted in a soil that is 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 29 C), however, once germinated, cabbage grows nicely in cooler soil in the 60 to 65 (16 to 18 C) range.

When moving your cabbage starts from the indoors to the outdoors space out your cabbage at least 18 inches (30 cm). I have tried planting them 12 inches apart, but that is very tight in my opinion. Give your cabbage some room and they will reward you with a great harvest.

Choose a spot for your cabbage that receives full sun, although cabbage will still do well in light shade. Give your cabbage a heavy watering until you see the head begin to form, then scale back your watering to a moderate level.

Most varieties of cabbage are heavy feeders, therefore you will want to feed them weekly with a good fertilizer such as a compost or manure tea, or another quality fertilizer that is high with nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous.

Follow the instructions on the back of your seed packet for proper harvesting as the variety of cabbage you are growing will determine when to harvest.

Avoid following other members in the cabbage family in a crop rotation plan.