When planting carrots, remember that it's a difficult task for roots to try to corkscrew through a hard, clay soil; in the process they become tough, woody and misshapen. A loose well-drained loam is best. Spade the soil to a depth of at least one foot, and work in generous amounts of organic materials, such as compost and peat moss. Or plant carrots in a container filled with a commercial potting soil.
A new carrot variety, 'A-Plus Hybrid,' contains 75% more Vitamin A than standard varieties; one average-size carrot supplies more than the U.S. recommended minimum daily allowance for adults. The roots have an unusually deep orange color because of the high carotene level. Seeds are available by mail from Park Seed Co., Cokesbury Road, Greenwood, S.C. 29647-0001.
Tuberous begonias, bedding begonias and the tall cane begonias are easily increased from cuttings. Take two- or three-inch cuttings without flowers and place them into a container of sand. Keep the cuttings moist, but not wet, until growth starts; then pot them up. Tuberous begonias are most commonly grown from tubers, which are at nurseries now, and can be started on a bed of damp peat moss before setting them into the ground.
Bearded irises bloom in May, so make sure they don't dry out now. In general, irises do not need much fertilizer, but a small application of bloom fertilizer can be beneficial. Japanese and Louisiana irises differ from most in that they like acid conditions, so give them acid
food. Don't trim the foliage of Dutch irises until it turns brown; however, cutting off the old flower heads is helpful.
Some annuals are so good at self-perpetuating that they act like perennials; they will come back year after year if the conditions are right. 'Heavenly Blue' morning glory, cosmos, Shirley poppy, gloriosa daisies, some California wildflowers and alyssum are good examples. Nasturtium and \o7 Polygonum capitatum\f7 , both of which are tender perennials, seed prolifically, so will return after a freeze. When planning a perennial garden, include a few annuals to fill the empty spaces among the young, small perennials.
The 'Easter Egg' radish--a recently introduced hybrid that produces purple, pink, white, violet, red and lavender radishes, all from the same seed batch--has the same cultural requirements as other radishes. Seeds for them, sometimes available in local nursery racks, are sold by most mail-order seed companies.
Pepper plants are available in local nurseries, but the plants won't grow much unless the weather is warm. April and May are the ideal months to set out pepper transplants.