April 1 column

Here is a link to my column in today's edition of The Spokesman-Review: Carrots, greens can start now. It is about growing carrots and salad greens which are both cool-season crops.

Of course, the April Fool's Day joke is on me because it's snowing outside as I write this! But in theory at least, you can start planting your cool-season veggies now, provided the soil in your garden is dry enough. After all of the rain we've received this week, that's going to be a challenge.

I've mentioned this before but will just reiterate how to check your soil: Grab a handful of it and squeeze it. Then poke the ball of soil with your finger. If it's wet and clumpy, your soil is still too wet. But if the soil just crumbles apart, the soil moisture is just right.

Working with the soil when it's too wet will damage its structure. Many years ago, I learned this the hard way. I was anxious to prepare the soil so I could get a jump on the season. Big mistake. What I ended up with was a garden full of dry dirt clods, which lasted the entire season. Fortunately, I'm pretty good about learning from my mistakes and haven't repeated this one since.

If you're curious about the lettuce variety above, it's called 'Sea of Red,' which looks stunning in a salad thanks to its intense burgundy color.