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Agriculture Today

Harvesting high-quality carrots

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March 15, 2011 | 3,084 views | Post a comment

Q.How long will we be able to harvest high-quality carrots into the summer? We planted more than we can use this spring.

A. The quality will stay high for carrots in the ground until about June 1. At that point or before, freeze the extra carrots.

Q.We are organic gardeners and want to fertilize our lawn with organic fertilizer. Our nurseryman suggested we use a 22-3-3 manufactured fertilizer instead. He said it had more nitrogen. What do you think?

A. Organic fertilizers have nitrogen, but it is at a reduced level -- probably between 4 and 7 percent. You just need to use more organic fertilizer to provide the same nitrogen, about four times as much as the 22-3-3 fertilizer that was recommended. The 22-3-3 has about half of its nitrogen in a quickly available form and half in a slow-release form. It may contribute to a quicker green-up if it is applied on or about May 1. Use the organic fertilizer if it better fits your gardening philosophy.

Q.We have an ongoing problem with spider mites. We used kelthane before but now that it is no longer on the market, we have not found a good solution for the pests. Neem oil did not work for us.

A. I use a preventive weekly spray of seaweed extract mixed with water at 2 tablespoons per gallon. Apply it thoroughly under the leaves once per week until spider mites show up, and then increase to 2 sprays per week. It is not as effective as kelthane was, but seems to slow down the mites long enough to grow and harvest the crop.

Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the San Antonio Water System’s project director of regional initiatives and special projects. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays noon to 2 p.m., and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Or, e-mail him at reader@wcn-online.com.

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