Ask Burton: Q: I have a vegetable garden I put in a couple of years ago, and it’s pretty good, but I just can’t seem to get carrots to do what I want. Any carrots I grow are stubby or misshapen (and tougher than normal!), depending on whether they’re growing in my in-ground garden or my above-ground one. Any ideas to help?

A: Carrots need a loose, soft soil to do their best. Soils heavy in aged bark and expanded shale (like we recommend for anything else) cause your carrots to grow in a gnarled fashion – the root you’re looking to eat is growing around all of the chunky bits. The dense clay around here, even without the hard bits, can also cause the carrot to not make full size.

A raised bed of basically sandy loam with a modest amount of finished compost blended in will give you much straighter, regular looking carrots that will be happier. Build a deep box at least sixteen inches deep, and fill it on up with that sandy loam and compost blend.

Learn more at our free Vegetable Gardening Class this Saturday, February 3rd at 11 am.