By: Amy Grant
Cool season beets are a fairly easy crop to grow but they can be afflicted by a number of beet growing problems. Most stem from insects, diseases, or environmental stressors. What are some of the reasons for a beet plant wilting and is there a solution?
Help For Beet Seedlings Falling Over
Seedlings can become leggy if they’re started with a light source that is too far away; the beets stretch to the light, becoming leggy. The result, of course, will be that they simply can’t support themselves and you get beets that are falling over.
If you see that your beet seedlings are falling over, an additional cause may be wind, especially, if you are hardening them off outside prior to transplanting. Keep the seedlings in a protected area until they harden off and strengthen. Also, start slowly when hardening off. Begin by bringing the seedlings outside for one to two hours at first in a shaded area and then gradually work up to an additional hour each day in increasing sun exposure so they can adjust to the bright sun and temperature differences.
Beet Growing Problems
Wilting in beets may be the consequence of insect infestation or disease.
Wilting and Insects
A number of insects can afflict beets.
- Flea Beetles – The flea beetle (Phyllotreta spp.) can wreak havoc on foliage. The small black adults, which are 1/16th- to 1/18th-inch (4 to 3 ml.) long with over-large back legs feed on the leaves, creating pits and small, irregular holes. The plant may then wilt as a result.
- Aphids – Aphids also like to feed on the leaves. Both green peach and turnip aphids (Myzus persicae and Lipaphis erysimi) enjoy the beet greens just as much as we do. Present throughout the growing season, aphids suck nutritious juices from the foliage, resulting in leaf yellowing and wilting.
- Leafhoppers – Yellow wilt leafhopper does just that, causing wilting along with stunting of growth, yellowing and eventual die back. They afflict the leaf and crown of beets. Avoid planting in an infested area, use resistant cultivars and apply insecticides to control leafhoppers.
Wilting and Disease
Wilting may also be caused by a number of diseases.
- Root rot complex – Root rot complex first appears on leaves as red spots, then yellow, and finally wilting. The root itself may develop dark lesions on the root surface or even soften and rot. Additionally, a white to grayish brown fungal growth may appear on the rotting root areas.
- Damping off – Damping off disease may also occur among beet plants. This is a horticultural disease caused by a number of pathogens that kill or weaken seeds or seedlings. The seedlings will develop black stems, wilt and finally die. The best defense is to use treated seeds and practice crop rotation annually.
- Curly top disease – Curly top disease causes young plants to expire rapidly. First, the tender leaves roll inward and blister and thicken. Then, the veins swell, the plant wilts and it usually dies. Leafhoppers spread this disease. Use row covers to keep the leaf hoppers off the beets, plant the crop early and harvest early, and control weeds around the beet crop that act as cover for the leaf hoppers.
- Root and crown rot – Rhizoctonia root and crown rot affects the roots of the beet plants. The first symptoms are sudden wilting; yellowing; and dry, black petioles at the crown. The wilted leaves die and the root surface harbors infected areas that are dark brown to black. To thwart this disease, begin with a planting area that is well drained, tilled and has adequate nutrition. Rotate beet crops with corn or small grain crops, control weeds and don’t hill plant beets.
- Verticillium wilt – Verticillium wilt may also cause beet plants to wilt. Initially, leaves turn a straw color, with outer leaves drying and wilting while the inner foliage becomes deformed and twisted. Again, rotate crops to mitigate the disease.
Lastly, not just disease or insects can cause beets to wilt. The first thing to consider if any plant is wilting is whether or not it’s getting enough water. Conversely, an overabundance of water can cause a plant to wilt. Really, almost any environmental stress can lead to wilting. Although beets are a cool season crops, they can still be affected by extended cold snaps, as frost damage may also cause beets to wilt.
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Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Beetroot
The plant beet, scientific name Beta vulgaris, is a herbaceous biennial (rarely, perennial) plant with leafy stems that grows one to two meters (40-80 inches) tall.
The plant has several cultivated varieties, with beetroot being the most popular one.
Beetroot is also referred to as garden beet, table beet, red beet, or simply as beet. It is the most commonly encountered beet variant in Britain, North America, and Central America.
The typical deep, red roots of beetroot are often eaten cold as a salad or boiled as a cooked vegetable. The green leafy portion of the plant is also edible, this is usually served steamed or boiled, and has a similar taste and texture to spinach.
Beetroot is a good source of antioxidants, and of nutrients such as sodium, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin C and betaine (essential for cardiovascular health).
Identifying Seed Germination Problems
There are several issues that can prevent a seed from sprouting. The first step is to use good-quality seeds from a trusted supplier. Some seeds simply have a poor germination ratio, but this should be indicated on the seed package in a statement that may suggest sowing heavily. If you are confident about the quality of your seeds and you still run into problems, review the information below to see if it helps identify your seed starting problems.
Not enough time for the seeds to germinate
The instructions on the seed package indicate how long the seeds will take to germinate. This is only an average time based on perfect growing conditions, such as temperature, moisture, and seed starting medium. Less than ideal growing environments will require added time for the seeds to germinate.
Solution: Give your seeds a few more days.
In addition, consider pre-sprouting your seeds. Pre-sprouting is a method of germinating seeds before they are planted into a growing medium. Germination is usually quicker because the seeds are given ideal moisture, air, and temperature conditions.
Seeds are too old or not stored properly
Most seeds can last several years if they are stored away from heat, moisture, and light. Older seeds will have a reduced germination rate. Even if older seeds do germinate, they may not have the vigor to produce healthy plants like when they were new.
Solution: Purchase fresh seeds each year, and test your older seeds to see whether they will sprout. If old seeds do not sprout, replace your inventory with new seeds.
Some seeds like chives, parsley, parsnip, and onions lose viability after only a year. So plan on purchasing fresh seeds each year.
Not enough moisture or too much moisture
Seeds need moisture to germinate, but the seeds will rot if the soil is overly wet. If the seed-starting medium is too dry, moisture will not penetrate the seed coat and signal the seeds to sprout. Saturated soil will cause the seed to rot.
Solution: Pre-moisten your seed starting mix before making soil blocks or filling your seed starting containers. The soil should be damp, but not dripping wet.
After sowing your seeds, cover the tray with a humidity dome to retain moisture. If the soil surface dries out, mist with a spray bottle until it is damp once again. Remove the dome once the seeds sprout and place under lights.
Seeds planted too deep
Each seed has a boost of nutrients to feed it as it germinates and grows into a seedling. Seeds that are planted too deep will struggle to reach the soil surface and may run out of nutrients. If the spout doesn’t reach the surface and receive light, it will die beneath the soil. If the sprout does manage to break through, the struggle can weaken the seedling.
Solution: Refer to the seed package for correct depth to plant the seeds. Generally, plant seeds at a depth that is twice the size of the seed. For example, if your seed is 1/4-inches wide, plant it about 1/2-inch deep. It is better to sow seeds too shallow than too deep.
Try not to compress the soil over the seeds as you sow them. The soil should be firm enough to hold in moisture, but not so compacted that the seedling can’t break through.
If your seed packet says your seeds need light to germinate, sow the seeds on top of the soil and use a mister to water them. The gentle shower of water should be enough to push the seeds into the soil. Place the seed containers under lights.
Temperature is too hot or cold
Seeds need heat and moisture to trigger them to sprout. The amount of heat is different for each seed type. If the seeds are sown in soil that is too cold, they may remain dormant or even rot. If the seeds are in soil that is too hot, the heat will kill the seed.
Generally, seeds for cold season plants germinate in soil temperatures of 60-70˚F. Warm season plants germinate in temperatures of about 75-85˚F.
Solution: Check the seed package for the optimal soil temperature for germination. Control the temperature of the area where the seed trays are located. For more warmth, place the seed starting trays in a warm area to germinate or use a heated seed-starting mat to warm the soil. For cooler temperatures, consider locating the seed trays in your basement where it tends to stay cooler.
Q. Beetroots bolting
My beetroots have started to bolt (flowering) What can I do about it. I cant do anything about the hot weather so do you have any other ideas?
Once the plant has bolted, there is no way to reverse the process.
This article will help you.
Carrot and Parsnip Growing Problems: Troubleshooting
Harvest carrots when they develop their color and the tops are 1 inch in diameter or smaller. Carrots can be lifted as soon as they are a usable size.
Carrots and parsnips grow best in loose, sandy, humus-rich soil. Size does not make for more flavorful carrots and parsnips. For best flavor, lift both crops before they reach maximum size.
Carrots and parsnips can be sown thickly later thin both from 2 to 2½ inches apart or more depending upon the variety. Young thinned carrots can be used fresh in salads.
Carrots and parsnips are in the same plant family and are attacked by the same insects and diseases. Watch for the carrot rust fly, a dark-green fly that lays eggs in the soil near carrots, parsnips, and celery the larvae dig through the soil to the tip of the carrot and eat their way upward.
For carrot growing tips see Carrot Growing Success Tips at the bottom of this post.
Here are common carrot growing problems with cures and controls:
Seedlings fail to emerge. (1) Soil crusting: keep planting beds evenly moist until seedlings emerge protect planting beds from heavy overhead irrigation or heavy rain which will cause soil to compact and crust. (2) High temperatures can keep seed from germinating.
Seeds rot or seedlings collapse with dark water-soaked stems as soon as they appear. Damping off is a fungus that lives in the soil, particularly where humidity is high. Do not plant in cold, moist soil. Make sure soil is well drained. Avoid overcrowding carrots and parsnips.
Carrots emerge in clumps or not at all. Seed sown too shallow. Warm weather or dry conditions will cause seed to dry and not germinate. Cover seed with 1 inch of fine aged-compost or vermiculite. Keep soil evenly moist to allow for germination.
Plants bolt–flower and set seed. Exposure to below freezing temperatures or prolonged exposure to temperatures below 65°F early in the season. Protect young plants from cold with floating row cover or hot kaps.
Leaves curl under, become deformed, and yellowish. Aphids are tiny, oval, and yellowish to greenish pear-shaped insects that colonize on the undersides of leaves. They leave behind sticky excrement called honeydew which can turn into a black sooty mold. Blast them away with water from a hose. Use insecticidal soap.
Small holes in leaves of seedlings. Flea beetles are tiny bronze or black beetles that eat small holes in the leaves of seedlings and small transplants. The larvae feed on roots of germinating plants. Spread diatomaceous earth around seedling. Cultivate often to disrupt life cycle. Keep garden clean.
Leaves are chewed. Snails and slugs feed on leaves. Hand pick at night when these pests feed or set out saucers of beer at soil level to attract and drown slugs and snails.
Leaves turn yellow and then brown from the bottom up plant loses vigor. Root knot nematode is a microscopic eelworm that attacks feeder roots. Rotate crops. Remove old plant debris from garden. If pest nematodes are persistent, solarize the planting bed.
Leaves appear scorched, yellowed, curled, and wilted. Leafhoppers are green, brown, or yellow bugs to ⅓-inch long with wedge-shaped wings. They jump sideways and suck the juices from plants. Use insecticidal soap. Cover plants with floating row covers to exclude leafhoppers.
Inner leaves yellowed outer leaves reddish-purple roots stunted and bitter. Aster yellows is a mycoplasma disease spread by leafhoppers. Remove infected plants. Control leafhoppers. Keep the garden free of weeds which can harbor disease.
Mottled light and dark green pattern on leaves leaves are distorted and may become brittle and easily broken plants are stunted. Mosaic virus has no cure it is spread from plant to plant by aphids and leafhoppers. There is no cure for the virus. Remove diseased plants. Remove broadleaf weeds that serve as virus reservoir. Infected plants can produce edible fruit but the size and yield is reduced.
Round white powdery spots and coating on leaves. Powdery mildew is a fungal disease. Fungal spores germinate on dry leaf surfaces when the humidity is high spores do not germinate on wet leaves. Common in late summer or fall but does not result in loss of plant. Avoid water stress. Pick off infected leaves.
Grayish-white mold growth on soil surface and clinging to roots. Southern blight or white mold is a fungal disease that favors wet conditions. Keep planting beds well-drained add aged compost. Avoid overhead watering. Keep garden clean of debris and weeds which can shelter fungus spores.
Brown spots on leaves or roots. Leaf blight is a fungal disease–Cercospora leaf spot–spread by heavy rainfall and warm temperatures. Keep weeds down in the garden area they can shelter fungal spores. Avoid overhead watering. Avoid planting in infested soil. Nitrogen fertilizer may help. Keep weeds out of garden.
Root tops are green. Roots tops exposed to sunlight green chlorophyll develops. Cover exposed root shoulders with soil or mulch. Green roots are inedible.
Roots are long, thin, and spindly, or short and stumpy. Soil temperature is too high or too low. The optimal carrot growing soil temperature is between 60°F and 70°F. Roots that develop in warm soils, between 70°F and 80°F produce short, stumpy roots.
Roots are thin and spindly. Weed competition for water and nutrients. Keep garden free of weeds. Keeping the garden weed free must begin at sowing time when growing carrots.
Longitudinal cracks in roots. Soil water is inconsistent, wet then dry, wet then dry. Keep planting bed evenly moist. Mulch to retain even soil moisture. Harvest carrots before they become over-mature carrots are best before they reach full maturity. Possible born deficiency. Test soil and apply borax to bring boron level up if necessary. Carrots with cracked roots can still be eaten.
Roots rot or have enlarged white “eyes’. Overwatering water less often. Plant in well-drained soil. Avoid planting in heavy soil.
Roots are pale orange. Air temperatures too cool, below 65°F. Avoid planting carrots too early in spring.
Roots are hairy. Plants are over fertilized–too much nitrogen–or roots are in contact with fresh manure. Add aged compost to planting beds. Add manure to planting beds the fall before spring planting so that it has time to work into the soil. Rotate crops. Thin carrots early.
Roots twist around each, forked, or deformed. Plants are too close. Thin carrots from 1 to 2 inches apart depending upon the variety when they are young. Make sure planting bed is free of clods and rock. Growing roots will split or grow sideways if they encounter obstacles in the soil. Rough branching can also be caused by too much manure in the soil. Use only well-rotted manure.
Root forked or twisted. Root-knot nematodes are microscopic worm-like animals that live in the film of water that coat soil particles some are pests, some are not. Root-knot nematodes feed in the roots and stunt plant growth they are most common in sandy soils. Rotate crops. Solarize the soil with clear plastic in mid-summer.
Roots have small black holes. Wireworms are the soil-dwelling larvae of click beetles they look like wirey-jointed worms. Check soil before planting flood the soil if wireworms are present. Remove infested plants and surrounding soil.
Roots and stems are chewed. Carrot weevils are dark brown to coppery, hard-shelled weevils to 1/5-inch long. The larvae are white legless grubs with brown heads. The grubs mine into carrot tops and roots. Handpick and destroy. Cultivate the soil to interrupt the weevil’s life cycle. Add parasitic nematodes to the planting bed.
Roots are tunneled rusty mush oozes from tunnels. Carrot rust fly maggot is yellow to white, about ⅓-inch long. The carrot rust fly is black and green, about 1/5-inch long. Fly lays eggs in crown of carrot plants. Sprinkle rock phosphate around base of plants. Peel off damaged area before using. Harvest carrots as soon as possible. Do not store carrots in ground through winter. Keep garden clean of weeds. Delay planting until late spring or summer to avoid carrot rust fly life cycle.
Roots are discolored and decayed. Root rot or cavity spot is a fungal disease that favors warm soil. Remove infected plants. Don’t let carrots sit in the garden older roots are susceptible to root rot. Keep garden clean of weeds and plant debris that harbor fungus. Be sure transplants are not diseased. Rotate crops regularly. Solarize the soil in late spring or summer.
Carrots are bitter flavored. Exposure to hot, dry weather. Mulch planting beds with aged compost to retain soil moisture and keep soil cool. Carrots burn sugars in warm weather the result is loss of sweetness. Avoid growing carrots with nighttime temperatures are greater than 60°F.
Roots are difficult to lift. Side-roots will sometimes make carrots difficult to life. Use a digging fork to loosen the soil around carrots before harvest. Use a gentle twisting motion to lift carrots. Soaking the soil with water before harvest can cause roots to rot in place.
Parsnips have poor flavor. Insufficient exposure to below freezing temperatures parsnips develop sweetness with exposure to cold. Do not lift parsnips until the second or third frost has passed.
Carrot Growing Success Tips:
Planting. Carrots grow best in full sun, but will grow in partial shade. Plant carrots in loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter remove all plant debris, clods, and stones from the planting bed. Carrots will grow twisted or split in heavy clay soil or soil where obstacles impede root growth. Check the soil before planting. Carrots will not germinate and grow in crusted soil at sowing time cover seed with light compost or sawdust or sow carrot seed with radish seed which will germinate and break the soil before carrots emerge (later remove the radishes so that they do not compete with the carrots).
Planting time. Sow carrots from early spring to midsummer. Where summers are very warm, sow carrots in late summer. Carrots grow best when the roots mature in temperatures between 60° and 70°F.
Care. Keep carrots evenly moist from the time of sowing throughout the growing season do not let carrots dry out. Thin carrots when seedlings are 2 inches tall thin carrots to about 1 inch apart. Two weeks later thin carrots again from 2 to 4 inches apart. Use a small scissors to thin carrots by cutting the seedlings as soil level pulling up thinned seedlings will disturb the roots of the seedlings you intend to grow on.
Harvest. Begin the carrot harvest when the carrots are most sweet. As the variety you are growing is close to its number of days to maturity, begin tasting a carrot each day. When the flavor is sweet, begin the harvest. Continue to check your crop each day and aim to complete the harvest while the roots are most sweet. (Lift carrots late in the day for optimal sweetness.) If the crop is attacked by root maggots or other pests, lift the crop right away.
Now you have some ideas about what you can grow in your grow bags, depending on whether you can provide support to the plants, and how large the grow bags are.
I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone else who can use the information. If you have any questions or advice about what you can grow in a grow bag, please leave a comment below.
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If want to grow carrots this year, it helps to know how long they take to germinate (sprout). That way, you can plan ahead for when to start them in the garden. So, how long do carrot seeds.
Hilling potatoes adds a lot of work to the process of growing. There are some benefits to hilling, but they need to justify the extra effort that is involved. So, do you need to hill.