TURNIPS AND PROTECTING CROPS FROM DEER IN NORTH FLORIDA
When is the right time to prepare the soil and plant turnips in Crestview?
Turnips taste best when they are grown in cooler weather. Roots that mature when the weather is hot just donít taste good.
In north Florida, turnips are planted January-April and August-October, so you have plenty of time to get a crop planted. Sow seeds every two inches in rows that are 12-20 inches apart. Final spacing is 4-6 inches. Baby turnips can be harvested in as little as 30 days under the right conditions.
If you are growing turnips just for the greens, sow the seeds closer together and thin to a final spacing of just 1-4 inches. Harvest by shearing the tops off about an inch above the base of the stem.
It is best to prepare the soil at least 3-4 weeks before sowing your seed. Loosen the soil deeply, 6 inches or so, and remove any stones and anything else that would get in the way of a growing turnip bulb. Dig in a 2-inch layer of compost. I can taste those turnip greens now!
Any advice on keeping deer out of the garden? I've tried deer repellent, planting extra crops, planting something just for them like winter rye so they'll leave everything else alone and nothing works. There seems to be no end to their appetite. I spotted four full grown deer (all doe) grazing in the garden the other day. They normally eat the entire garden and leave nothing standing. I hate to fence in the area, but I'm running out of other options. Thanks. By the way, I enjoy your website. Keep up the good work.
-- Jason, Wausau, FL
Now that must be very painful to watch. All of your hard work, all those veggies being eaten up Ė even after growing extra for the deer. I feel for you. This year I had squirrels digging in my garden, uprooting my carrots and beets. I was comforted only by telling myself that Iím blessed not to have deer to deal with!
I regret to say that I have little advice other than what you have already tried. Those are the steps I would take if faced with the same situation. Though, by now, Iíd be building that fence.
There is one other thing that may provide some relief from the grazing. Consider covering your crops, at least those you can, with lightweight row covers supported by stakes and stapled to the ground. It is working for me with my squirrel problem and the young plants seem to really like it -- I have never had healthier, happier looking beet seedlings!
The lightweight row covers let most of the light through, so you can leave them in place.
I intend to use the same lightweight row covers to protect my strawberries from birds and other critters beginning next month when the fruit begins to ripen. I canít say whether row covers will stop deer in your garden but itís worth a try. Good luck!
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