Q: I'm growing "baby" carrots... but in general baby or otherwise, how do I know when to pick them? They're underground, I have no idea how they are doing! Is there a marker I should be looking for, or a specific time frame?
A: It would help to know when you planted your carrots. If you still have the seed packs it should tell you how many days it takes for the carrot variety you're growing to mature. In general, baby carrots are usually ready to harvest 50 to 60 days from the date you planted them. For carrots to grow to full mature size it usually takes about 75 days. When you see the shoulders of the carrots at ground level are 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter, that is a good indication that your carrots are ready to harvest. There is some variation by variety and for baby carrots it's a little harder to tell, but at about 1/4 inch in diameter just pick a couple to get a sense if they are the size you want for baby carrots. Also, eat one of the sample carrots to make sure that they're at a size when they flavor has developed.
Q: My broccoli and brussel sprouts are being eaten by some kind of bug, I have yet to see the bug, just holes in the leaves. Any recommendations for an eco friendly way to tackle that?
A: If the holes in your broccoli and brussel sprouts are like someone shot the plants with tiny buckshot, then it's likely flea beetles. These are tiny shiny black beetles that look like black dots on the plants until you touch a plant which makes them jump. They are often the first insect problem in the season and their favorite plants are in the brassica family (like your broccoli and brussel sprouts). Safer's Soap is non-toxic and you can get it at any garden store or nursery. You can spray the leaves with it until they are drenched. With luck, if the plants are strong and not lacey with holes, they may grow through the infestation.
If you don't think it's flea beetles, then we may need to dig deeper: feel free to take a photo of the plant leaves with your phone and send it to me! Or, look on the underside of the leaves, or go out with a flashlight after dark and see if you see any bugs or worms (the larval stage of the cabbage moth is a little pale green worm) on the plants. Let me know what you find out.