Solutions for turnip troubles, crape myrtle quandaries

Published 8:40 am Sunday, August 19, 2012

The hot summer days can really slow us down, but there are lots of things that can be done in the home garden and home grounds.


I had a client, Wilson Seal, of the Stateline/ Angie area community, to visit me with his problem, and according to Wilson, he and lots of home gardeners in his community are having problems growing turnips. The problem is, when turnips mature, they turn brown in the center and when cooked are very hard. Then he told me what folks said was causing the problem and it ran from the ridiculous to you name it, for example: bad seeds, lime and just things that were not causing the turnips to be hard.

Here is the solution that I gave Wilson Seal and to anyone else who may be experiencing turnips being brown and hard when cooked. You have a boron deficiency in the soil. Boron is a minor nutrient/element that is needed by plants in small amounts but is essential for quality production of some crops. You will need to broadcast 1 to 3 pounds of boron per acre prior to planting and disc it into the soil. Some names for boron products are Solubor and Borax-20 Mule Team detergent. Yes, detergent!

Remember this, boron is one of the minor elementS of the 16 essential elements that plants need to grow and give good production. When we were finished discussing boron, Wilson Seal left my office, going to purchase some for his garden and correct his neighbors on what was causing the problem with their turnips.

Try these varieties of turnips when planting: Just Right, Tokyo Cross, Purple Top, Shogoin, White Lady, Alanio and Seven Top.

Fruit Care

Blueberries: Blueberry plants will put on a second flush of growth in August through October, so a final fertilizer application is needed now. Use 2 ounces of ammonium nitrate per year of age up to a maximum of 8 ounces per plant. Use urea at a 1-ounce rate per year of age on soils with pH of 5 or less. Be sure to distribute the fertilizer evenly, at least 10 to 12 inches from the base of the plant.

Blueberry Pruning: Rabbiteye blueberries are vigorous growers and can reach 6 to 8 feet in a few years. Prune back to 48 inches after harvest. Plants will have ample time to produce more fruiting wood before frost. Old, unproductive canes can be removed to ground level, leaving a maximum of 6 to 8 vigorous canes. Plants need to be pruned right after harvest for best results. Pruning of plants during winter months (November, December and January) when dormant removes fruiting wood and reduces yields.

Around in the Yard

Prune your roses now. Now is a good time to prune your roses to encourage fall blooms. Remember, do not prune as heavily as in February, but prune to remove dead, diseased and weak canes to about 2.5 to 3 feet. You may also remove any debris or weeds from the beds. You can fertilize the roses with a slow-release fertilizer that will provide uniform growth for a large amount of roses in October.

Late summer is a good time to plant roses. The low-maintenance roses like the Knock Out and Home Run are good varieties to plant. Good floribundas roses include Hot Cocoa, Julia Child, Easy Does It, Easy Goin’ and Cinco de Mayo.

Crape/Crepe Myrtles

Are you having problem with aphids/plant lice on your plants, which results in a black covering on the foliage called sooty mold? Keeping aphids off with Acephate, Malathion or Talstar will prevent the sooty mold from forming, resulting in a healthier-looking plant.

Finally, there is a product that will suppress the growth of suckers on crape/crepe myrtles. Prune suckers all the way back — not leaving any stubs. Weed trimmers or mechanical damage may also stimulate sucker growth, so make sure all suckers are removed properly and spray the cut over with something called napthaleneacetic acid (NAA-an organic auxin) that will control the suckers. Some products available with the above-mentioned ingredient are Sucker Stopper from Monterey Lawn and Garden Products and Fertilome Prune Smart Sprout Inhibitor.