The Q&A Archives: Overwintering Carrots; Splitting Seed Tape

Question: Since the carrots (Nantes) I planted last July overwintered ok, and were edible in April, and any planting would definitely get plenty of snow cover each year to protect them, is it practical to plant a few rows in mid-August for harvesting the following year? If they'll germinate and grow through early fall - first frost here is mid-September, but there are many frost free nights through late October, and lots of sun - and then hibernate through the winter, and begin growing again in spring, I could have fresh carrots long before any next year's plantings matured. I'm wondering if I can cut seed tape lengthwise. The seed tape is about 7 1/2 feet long. There is a perforation that runs the entire length down the middle. So if you tear the strip in half lengthwise, you have 2 strips about 7 1/2 feet each. But the package doesn't say the tape is supposed to be divided this way, with each side put into a different row. Please expalin whether the tape is supposed to be split in half. The first 2 years, I started tomato seeds in late March ( Early Girl' and other fast maturing varieties). This is 8 weeks before I can put them in the garden. I got bupkus by the time the first frost came - mid September so I tried starting the seeds in early February, transplanting to 10" containers in April. When I put them in the garden they're 2 ' high. I now get fruits in mid August. As far as I can tell, there's no way to get tomatoes in a 3 month growing season if you don't start seeds 16weeks before transplant, so you have substantial plants for transplant. Could you comment on ways to improve the tomato yield in my 3 month growing season? Thanks R. Schneider Dover, VT

Answer: Yes, you can plant carrots in late summer to grow into the winter. If mulched with about 1 foot of hay mulch in November after a hard freeze, they should stay fine in the ground until it warms in spring. They will actually taste sweeter this way too! The seed tape can be cut lengthwise to get two rows -- especially if the plants are large ones such as cucumbers. I'd suggest growing tomato varieties that are adapted to the cold weather such as 'Stupice' and 'Siletz'. These are cold adapted varieties that will set fruit in cool weather. They are determinate so won't grow large plants, but still will mature nice sized, red fruit. You can also preheat the soil with IRT or black plastic and plant right into the plastic as a way to quicken the growth. Cover early tomato plants with floating row cover or Wall O Waters to protect them from the cold. The followng catalog offers these varieties and products, Johnny's Selected Seeds Foss Hill Rd. Albion, ME 04910 207-437-4301

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