"growing peas, beans and carrots" - organic poison free gardening Victoria BC
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Growing Peas, Beets and Carrots

peas and beets and carrots
Our main crops of peas, beets, carrots and lettuces can now be sown outdoors. Remember that pointed carrots do better in light, sandy soil, and the blunt-tipped kinds are better for heavy clay loams. Sow a fast-maturing beet at the same time as a long-maturing one, such as Stokes' Longstanding beet which overwinters nicely in the ground and does not go woody no matter how large it gets.

You can sow your leaf lettuces as well now, and remember that they have twice the food value as head lettuces, mature faster and are hardier. Cos lettuce is outstanding in this regard. With leaf lettuces you can also go out into the garden and break off a few outer leaves from the lettuce plant if you only want enough for a small side salad, leaving the plant to grow on.

Follow the instructions on the seed packages, and do not fertilize. Peas collect their own nitrogen from the air - thanks to some very helpful bacteria which live in little round nodules on their roots. Applying fertilizer to leguminous crops, such as peas and beans is actually detrimental to these crops. And it would be foolish to fertilize the root crops, as this would just result in much leaf and hairy roots. Moisture at an even level will assure well-formed roots. Nothing else is needed.

To reduce the need for weeding, lay down an six-page thick layer of newspaper between your rows, and hold it down with a few strategically placed rocks. This saves a lot of work and the headache of weeding among small seedlings, and it works especially well with slow-germinating carrots. It's an organic mulch which will decay nicely into the soil, and the black ink is all much needed carbon anyway. Later on, when they are bigger, you can lay down a weed mulch - highly recommended - except among the carrots and onions. The shearing of the weeds always took too much of a toll on the slender leaves of these crops.

When your beet and lettuce rows need to be thinned, lift out sturdy seedlings carefully and replant them in the space between the rows, following the "5" pattern on dice. The transplanting of the lifted seedlings sets them back a week or so, and this will result in a very nice succession of mature crops.

In the flower garden we can now set out our dahlia and gladiolus bulbs. A tablespoon of bone meal under each tuber or bulb will pay off handsomely in quality and number of blossoms. Glad fanciers often plant bulbs in monthly or two-week intervals until July to provide a steady supply of these colourful, stately blossoms for garden and table. Perennials and hardy annuals can now be planted out as well, and like all profuse bloomers, will appreciate a touch of bone meal.

My all time favourite among the dahlias is the variety "Redskin", a wonderful, very hardy and trouble-free strain in a wealth of beautiful colours. They are hard to find though, that's why I always grew mine from seed in the greenhouse.

And in the greenhouse, or equivalent indoor situation, we can now also start our tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers - and all the tender annuals such as marigolds, zinnias and anything else we would like to have in our gardens. Next, we'll talk a bit more about lettuce, because since almost everyone would like to grow it.


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