Every bit of garden advice I give is a result of painful experience. I have learned everything the hard way. Many times, however, I repeat the behavior expecting different results. I believe that is the definition of insanity.

Years ago I attempted to seed carrots inside into a flat. I figured I could control the weeds and plant them out carefully to avoid thinning in the future. I’ve used the method with beets and onions for years. It was a disappointing attempt. They never grew properly. Fast forward several decades. I seeded salsify, scorzonera and parsnips last year and transplanted out after danger of frost. All of them developed forked roots. Come to find out, long rooted vegetables need to be direct seeded in loose soils with few rocks. This is excellent news as I am quite fond of these winter vegetables. Scorzonera is becoming a new favorite. Also known as “oyster plant,” it is a perennial which behaves like a biennial. It can be planted in the spring for excellent winter soups and stews or can continue to grow the following year with no loss of quality.

It is popular in Europe but not very well known here. Such a pity. The preferred growing method is in a large pot filled with sandy, pebble-free soil. Harvesting is problematic as the roots break easily. The pot method is great as the contents can be dumped out and sorted for the long, thin roots. As with parsnips, frost improves the flavor.

I know that most folks stick to old favorites when selecting seeds for the vegetable garden. I love to experiment with new or difficult crops.

I was unable to winter over my artichokes and cardoon. I piled too much hay on top of them in the fall. I think I may have suffocated them. They were mushy and covered with earthworms when uncovered this week. I was irritated as last year I was successful with Reemay and bales of hay around the bed.

Speaking of irritated, every year I start my peas in the large plug trays to thwart the crows. They love to pull up the just-germinated sprouts (also will eat your sunflowers as they come up). I had my plug trays of peas covered with Reemay ready to go into the ground. On Saturday I discovered some critters (probably voles) were eating them in the trays.

I hate gardening time spent trying to foil wildlife. I set the (Don’t) Have a Heart trap and placed several bars of poison slathered with peanut butter. No more Mrs. Nice Guy. I’ve had it!

By the way, a bit of random information. If you stack five-gallon buckets together you can NEVER get them apart. They end up at dump recycling. Again, I only say these things because I’ve done them.

What’s up with this aging body? I remember working hard one day, being sore the next and that was the end of it. The sore next day never goes away now. Do I need to purchase stock in some aspirin company? I already pay my chiropractor’s mortgage. A simple dish of ice cream in the evening causes a sugar hangover in the morning. Youth is truly wasted on the young.

Holy Dahlias! What was I thinking? Last fall I made the decision to leave my years-old tubers in the ground. I had lost track of their size and color and wanted to regain some control. I ordered a shocking amount of new ones from Van Bourgondien. They arrived last week. I won’t even admit to how many. Thankfully my daughter has been potting them up for me. Then, for some unknown reason, I planted several flats of dahlia seeds. It has worked for me in the past, especially the small border cultivars like Jewel and Figaro. Trust me, it works; they bloom right on schedule for a fraction of the price. My customers should be forewarned. You will be enjoying several types this summer.

I always enjoy civil discourse. My comments at the end of this column seems to bring out the best and sadly the worst in some folks. I am happy to receive criticism and disagreement. Mean-spirited and personal remarks are especially unpleasant from the anonymous. I’m proud to say I have the courage to put my name on my opinions.