Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.
LifestyleHome & Garden

Loose soil best for root vegetables

Agriculture

I'd like to grow carrots, but I hear it's tricky. Any tips?

Because carrots are roots that need to push through soil, having light loose soil is a big determiner of success. For carrots, a depth of 12 inches is ideal. Add compost to your soil structure. It is the Year of the Root Crop on Grow It Eat It, our all-vegetables. all-the-time site. Find us at our new url: extension.umd.edu/hgic. Our online newsletter starts off the year with a great article providing many tips for growing root crops in Maryland.

What should I use for an organic amendment in my vegetable garden? Peat moss? How much?

Three percent organic matter holds a whopping one gallon of water per cubic foot. Like tiny sponges slowly releases moisture to your plants, the value of organic matter is enormous. A 3 percent organic soil is considered good normally, but for a vegetable garden, 5 percent is better. Add about 3 inches of a well-composted material (dead leaves, manure, etc.) yearly. Peat moss can be used but is expensive, non-renewable, makes the soil acidic (a vegetable garden should be closer to a neutral 6.2-6.8) and provides little nutritive value. Also, it is hydrophobic — meaning it repels water when dry.

University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at extension.umd.edu/hgic.

Plant of the Week

Bearded iris

Iris germanica

Rainbows with beards? Iris means rainbow in Greek, yet irises come in more colors than a rainbow. Their beard, a fuzzy appendage on the lower petal, apparently attracts or directs pollinators to pollen. Richly fragrant with big flower heads, iris make a big statement in spring. Now there are fall-blooming iris, too. Iris need full sunlight and well-amended, well-drained soil. Plant in late summer/early autumn. (Transplant after spring flowering.) Plant shallowly so rhizome tops are at, or just above, soil surface. Established iris are drought resistant, but new iris need 1 inch of water weekly. In autumn, remove dead foliage and cut healthy foliage to 4-5 inches. After ground freezes, 1 inch of mulch helps prevent soil heave. In spring, remove mulch. Feed with a thin layer of compost to ensure rhizomes are still visible. —Lewis Shell

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
Agriculture
  • Garden Q&A Archive
    Garden Q&A Archive

    Each week the University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Have a question about your home or garden? Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at hgic.umd.edu.

  • Opening doors to Baltimore's industrial past
    Opening doors to Baltimore's industrial past

    Baltimore's manufacturing heyday is long past. But the buildings that housed those industries were sturdily constructed. Many have survived and now thrive as residences, theaters, restaurants, artist studios, classrooms, museums, retail shops and contemporary industries.

Comments
Loading