Time to Plant Parsnips and Celeriac
Parsnips and celeriac (celery root) are cool-weather root crops that are planted in the spring. Both are in the Apiaceae (aka Umbelliferae) family. Plants in this family develop stalks with umbrella-like blossoms when they are ready to set seed. Other common characteristics between parsnips and celeriac include a very long days-to-maturity requiring that they be planted now so that they can be harvested before freezing weather arrives. They will mature in the cool of fall and generally store well in the ground until a hard freeze occurs. In fact, a frost or two will enhance their flavor. Both are well worth the space in your summer garden–they are delicious and nutritious, and will provide a harvest well after the tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers and peppers have finished producing. To maximize garden space, plant baby leaf lettuce or other quick maturing, shallow-rooted crops with them. By the time the parsnips and celeriac tops rise above them, the lettuce will appreciate protection from the summer sun and will provide you an extended harvest. Master Gardener Food Gardening Specialists Ellie Samuel and Kathleen Fitzgerald-Orr share how to successfully grow parsnips and celeriac.
In the Garden
Plant Summer Veggies!
If you haven't already done so, plant your warm-weather vegetables this month. The threat of frost has passed. Heat-loving veggies* require warmer summer nights—at least 55 degrees. For more information:
Say, "No!" to cucumber beetles.
If you have recurring problems with cucumber beetles, sow cucumber, pumpkin and squash seeds in 3-week intervals. These beetles can produce a number of generations during the summer depending on your microclimate (typically, once in June and once in July). If the adults burrow out of the soil when when plants are small seedlings, they will devour them. If that happens and you practice interval planting, it is likely that subsequent seeding(s) will germinate after the current feeding frenzy. These beetles are slow in the early morning—you can catch them and satisfyingly squish them (or, if you're squeamish, drown them in a bucket of soapy water). You may find a hand-held vacuum efficient in collecting them. Some gardeners use yellow sticky traps—but if your community garden neighbors aren't using them, you may be attracting beetles from outside your perimeter. You can use row covers for protection, but monitor your plants often so as not to trap beetles inside. Plus, when your plants flower, you must remove the cover to allow for pollination. See the University California's IPM page for more information about cucumber beetles.
Parsley is a biennial plant, leafing out the first year and setting seed the second year. It provides an abundance of leafy goodness that we can use to season or garnish many dishes. It is high in Vitamins A, C and K and iron—a healthy addition to your smoothies. Or make it the star of the dish such as in parsley soup or tabbouleh. In the garden, you can optionally let it bolt (flower) the second year in order to attract beneficial insects. Click here to learn more from Master Gardener Food Gardening Specialist Jennifer Dornbush about this easy-to-grow herb.
In planning your spring/summer garden, why not add some edible flowers this year? Many Sonoma County gardeners enjoy planting edible flowers, not only because they are a tasty addition to a variety of dishes, but also for their valuable contribution to the health of the garden. Edible flowers attract beneficial insects to pollinate the garden and provide an ecological balance against harmful pests. They also are colorful, fragrant and beautiful to look at! Learn more from Master Gardener Food Gardening Specialists Ellie Samuel and Ellen Scarr.
Preparing for Warmer Weather
Sonoma County will be heating up soon. Prepare for the long, dry summer by installing drip irrigation in your vegetable bed. It's the most efficient way to apply water to your crops. Plus, drip irrigation will reduce splash, thus, reducing fungal diseases. Learn more by checking out our "Conserve Water" article that provides links to helpful guides. One of the links is Master Gardener Food Gardening Specialist Electra de Peyster's step-by-step instruction for installing drip irrigation in your food garden—including a handy hardware supply shopping list.
Food Garden Specialists
Food Garden Specialists (FGS) are volunteers in the UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County. They have a passion for and extra training in sustainable food gardening. In addition to offering food gardening workshops, they provide free advice and consultation services to community gardens throughout Sonoma County. Read more.
Food Garden Tips
June Food Garden Tasks and Tips
For what to grow this month, click here.
- Summer officially arrives on June 20. This month’s full moon is called a Strawberry Moon as it signaled the Algonquin tribes that it was time to gather wild strawberries
- Weed and weed some more. Add more mulch (to 3-4” deep), as necessary, to suppress weeds and to retain moisture. Keep mulch away from plant stems.
- As the weather warms up, the evapotranspiration (ET) rate increases–which affects the amount of moisture your food garden needs. ON AVERAGE, during the summer–your garden needs 1 inch of water per square foot per week. How much is 1 inch of water in a square foot? About 2/3 gallon (0.623 gallon to be more exact). Here is some advice on using water efficiently–we can’t afford to waste water with our hot, dry summers:
- Rely on compost to feed your soil. That and mulch will retain soil moisture.
- Water daily if possible–adjust the weekly water needs to a daily figure if not watering daily. In general, vegetables perform better when there is even moisture in the soil in the Sonoma County hot, dry summer.
- Water only the active root zone. For most veggies, this is 6 to 12 inches deep; in deep soil in an open field or in double-dug beds, this may be 18-inches deep; for many fruit trees, this is 2 to 3 feet deep.
- Use a drip system, which is the most efficient application of water. Keep it in good repair. This requires regularly checking for leaks and plugged-up emitters.
- For 1/2 gallon emitters spaced 1’ apart, running the system for 11 minutes per day achieves the recommended 0.623 gallons/week.
- In a system with multiple dripper runs, consider installing an on/off valve at the head of each long dripper line; this allows you to easily cut off water to plants like tomatoes once they start producing, or to alliums when they get close to harvest.
- Irrigate in the early morning or the cool of the evening–not mid-day when evaporation rates are at their highest.
- Water only when needed–if the ET rate drops below average, you can decrease irrigation. Check the moisture in your soil regularly, monitor your plants’ appearance, and adjust your irrigation accordingly. Actual watering schedules will depend on soil type, container vs. in-ground, plant age (leaf/plant size), mulch, exposure and, especially, temperature.
- Stake tomatoes (and use soft ties), or use cages if it was not done at the time of planting. Don’t handle tomato plants in the morning when they are wet from dew–disease can spread and you can bruise the plant. The stems will bend more easily in the afternoon.
- Tomatillos are only slightly self-fertile and you need at least two plants for a good crop.
- As you finish your transition from a spring to summer garden, choose early vegetable varieties with shorter “days to maturity” that have high yields, and/or that are “drought-tolerant” or “drought-resistant” to efficiently use water. Note that “heat-resistant” refers to air temperature and does not mean that the variety performs well with less water.
- When apple, pear, peach and nectarine trees have formed small fruit, thin them to about 4 to 6 inches apart–about the space between your thumb and pinky finger. Less fruit requires less water, and the fruit will grow bigger.
- During the spring bloom period, fertilize citrus. Typically, mature trees use up to 3 lbs of urea or 20-30 lbs of animal manure per year (reduce for smaller trees); split the application into three parts, applied during April, June and August.
- Remember to look at your planting calendar, annotated with days to maturity, so that you harvest your crops at their peak of flavor.
- Use yellow sticky tape to control whiteflies or apply insecticidal soap to the undersides of leaves. Larger pests such as hornworms and squash bugs can be handpicked and dropped into a container of soapy water or cut worms in half with garden shears.
- Click here for ongoing monthly tasks.