Friday, August 3, 2018
My turnips had plumped out to the desired size for harvesting, so I pulled a few this afternoon – NOT happy with the harvest :-(
EVERY one of them pulled had severe root damage! The leaves, though, were perfectly green and healthy, though the leaves did wilt in the hot sun and some were a bit chomped on here and there; but nothing that would indicate a serious pest problem.
This is my first garden here at our new locale and I was hoping with new beds and brand new soil, I’d get a fairly decent harvest. I am not sure what the heck went wrong, but it looks like my beets are bolting, my rutabagas are a wash … just not thriving in any sense whatsoever … and the turnips have been destroyed. To say I am disappointed is an understatement. I am pretty sure the wildly fluctuating weather has a lot to do with the issues. Close to the river like we are, the temperatures on ANY GIVEN DAY can go as high as 100 degrees and in a heartbeat sink to about 40 with thick low-shrouding fog. And it is HUMID no matter where the temperature is – today it was a breezy 80 degrees with 57% humidity. However – after cleaning them up, slicing off the damaged pieces, and dicing the peeled portions, I was surprisingly blessed with 2-3/4 cups of turnip pieces I can use in Fall/Winter Soups and stews: I didn’t think I’d even get a full cup of pieces.
I am assuming that the problem is wireworm because there were no maggots on the roots or soil when I pulled them as there would be with cabbage maggot infestation. I am THANKFUL for that small grace! I grow everything for our food table organically – I do not even use ‘safe organic’ pesticides.
Common in home gardens across North America, wireworms (up to 1-1/2 inch long) are tough slender worms with shiny skin and three pairs of legs just behind their head. They are yellow to brownish-red in color and feed entirely underground, attacking germinating seeds, roots, bulbs and tubers. Damaged plants soon wilt and die. If infestations are heavy, thin and patchy crops may appear in the garden and reseeding will most likely be necessary.
Wireworms are the larval stage of click beetles. Approximately 1/2 inch long, these brown to black colored, bullet-shaped beetles are notable for their ability to click and right themselves when placed on their backs.
Doing further research, I read that wireworm larvae and adults overwinter in the soil. In early spring female beetles emerge from the soil, mate and lay eggs underground. Hatching takes place in 2-4 weeks, and the young larvae begin working their way through the soil in search of food. Larvae feed underground for 2-6 years with most of their damage occurring in early spring when soil temperatures are cool. Pupation occurs in late summer and adult beetles emerge in the spring. One generation per year, the life-cycle requiring 1-6 years to complete.
SIX YEARS of continual damage in my veggie beds is what I understand from what I just read!!
Lord help me …
So since I do not use pesticides – of any type – I am just going to have to be exceedingly diligent in keeping things under control in my soil. I’ll have to start beefing the health up in it, and then diligently keeping tabs on pests. I’m going to have Hubs build me a couple more birdhouses to hang in the beds area (birds consume a large amount of larvae and beetles) …
… and then use my Claw tool to thoroughly turn the soil to keep the prolific beetles so frustrated they leave my garden beds and crawl off somewhere else; as well as expose all stages of the problem to the weather and lurking birds.:
I already practice crop rotation (and religiously keep detailed notations from year to year); I also practice companion planting.
I will use a “potato trap” though, meaning I cut a spud in half and run a stick through the middle - burying the spud about 1” deep, using the protruding end of the stick as a handle. Hopefully when I check the “trap” in a day or 2 … it will have lured and trapped wireworms which will then be smashed and trashed.
And I am going to invest in some sticky traps and set those out too to catch the pests on wing!
((((YES!!!!))) I am engaging in full out W.A.R. with these pests >;-(
Sorry, but I have absolutely N.O.S.Y.M.P.A.T.H.I.E.S. whatsoever for destructive critters. When they bailiwick on my turf and create havoc in my veggie beds they deserve what they get.