Sow Rutabaga and Parsnip Seed Now for a Fall Crop

Mid to late July is the time to sow rutabaga and parsnip seed for a fall crop.

A few days ago, I planted a 30 foot row of rutabagas and a 30 foot row of parsnips.  I took care planting them because the seeds of these two crops are very small. They can’t be planted very deep.  It can be hard to resist the urge to cover them with too much soil — a half of an inch of soil over them is all

Since it has been so hot and dry, I thought it would be a good idea to lightly water the soil after planting. This will help the seeds absorb enough water so they can  germinate.

While rutabaga seed will emerge in a few days, it  can take a couple of weeks or more for parsnip seeds to germinate. I’ll have to keep watering  until the seedlings become established or regular rains return.

Parsnip seed upper right. Rutabaga seed lower left.

When it comes to eating parsnips or rutabaga, I can take them or leave them. So, sixty feet is a lot of root crops to eat. I suppose I’ll develop a taste for them this fall. On the other hand, whatever I don’t eat, I’ll feed to the chickens. During the winter they always enjoy a treat from the garden.



Keep Striped Cucumber Beetles Under Control

Striped cucumber beetles are public enemy number one when it comes to growing cucumbers.

They are a very colorful and attractive looking beetle with their shiny yellow stripes but they can destroy your entire cucumber crop if you don’t take steps right away to control them.

Sometimes it can be hard to spot cucumber beetles because they tend to hide when you get near them.

I’ve already sprayed for them twice this season however, a new population of beetles is starting to show up again.

Cucumber beetles are chewing insects that make holes in the leaves, blossoms and fruit of the plant. They can eat so much of the plant that they can drastically reduce the number of cucumbers the vines are able to produce — and that is bad enough.  Worse yet, they spread diseases like bacterial wilt and mosaic virus which can outright kill the plants.

They attack zucchini, winter squash, acorn squash and other vine crops. So, to be on the safe side,  check all of your vine crops.

There is also a spotted cucumber beetle that causes the same problems. They look like the striped variety but have spots instead.

Most garden insecticides do a good job killing these pests.



Syringing and Soil Surfactant Save Garden Water

Because of the heat wave and lack of rain, I’ve had to water the garden just to keep the plants alive.

To conserve water, I’ve been syringing the plants one at a time with a watering wand.  Syringing — placing water at the base of each individual plant — uses much less water than spraying the entire area with an oscillating or impulse garden sprinkler.  It also helps keep the weeds down in between the plants since the soil there is so dry.



The soil in my garden is so dry it has become hydrophobic. This means the water,  instead of soaking into the ground, beads up on the surface  like water on a newly-waxed car hood.  So when I try to syringe a plant, instead of going down into the soil where the plant can use it, the water just runs off into the garden path. This is a common problem in many soils when they get too dry.

When my soil gets in this condition, I use a surfactant to help the water move into the soil. I keep a box of biodegradable dishwasher detergent in the garden shed just for this purpose.  About a tablespoon or so of the detergent to a couple gallons of water does the trick in my soil.



I use my watering can to apply the solution right at the base of the plants. You can see the change it makes as the water sinks right in instead of running off. This saves even more water.



You won’t need to add a surfactant every time you water. The surfactant won’t last all season. So far, the application I made a few weeks ago is still working.