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The parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is a root vegetable closely related to the carrot. This biennial plant has long tuberous roots which have a cream-colored flesh that is succulent and flavorful and is sweeter than a carrot. Parsnip’s unique flavor comes from the starch being converted into sugar, which happens when they are left to mature in the ground.parsnip

Nutritional Content of Parsnip

Parsnips have a high starch and sugar content. They are also high in fiber, both soluble and insoluble. It is high in vitamins and minerals, especially potassium. Parsnips are a significant source of zinc, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, iron, vitamin K, vitamin C and pantothenic acid.

Health Benefits of Parsnip

1. The fiber in parsnip aids digestion of food, makes bowel movements regular and helps relieve constipation.

2. The soluble fiber contained in parsnip helps lower cholesterol and keeps blood sugar levels normal.

3. Parsnips contain many poly-acetylene antioxidants such as falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxydiol and methyl-falcarindiol which have been touted to have anti-cancer properties. Several studies have shown that these compounds have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-cancer function and offer protection from colon cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

4. Eating parsnips regularly can treat a variety of health problems and conditions such as asthma, arthritis, pneumonia, ulcers, hay fever and kidney damage.

5. Potassium found in significant amount in parsnip regulates blood pressure and helps muscles and nerves function properly.

6. Folate is contained in parsnip, which can be particularly beneficial to pregnant women to help prevent babies with birth defects. Folate also combats dementia and osteoporosis.

7. Parsnip can boost immunity and aid healing and recovery owing to its vitamin C and wide variety of antioxidants.

8. Parsnips can help relieve kidney problems such as kidney stones because of its diuretic properties.

9. The niacin and vitamin C content aids the digestive and nervous system.

10. The vitamin K in parsnips helps in blood clotting and protects the liver from diseases.

11. Parsnip has anti-inflammatory compounds that can improve respiratory conditions like bronchitis and asthma. These properties also prevent the swelling of blood vessels, thus preventing stroke and heart attack.

12. Parsnips are good for oral health as they can fight bacteria that cause gum diseases and tooth decay.

Read How to Grow Parsnips for detailed instructions on growing them. Find Heirloom Parsnip Seeds at our online organic store.

Common Names: Spittlebug, Froghopper

If you spot little blobs of foam or mass of bubbles on your plants, the culprit is most definitely- spittlebug nymphs. Contrary to popular belief, the foam isn’t really spit. Spittlebug nymphs suck plant juices like aphids, but they remove so much water and carbohydrates that excess fluid is produced.

They cover themselves with this fluid and then produce the spittle by bubbling air from the tip of the abdomen into the liquid. The froth serves a number of purposes. It hides the nymph from the view of predators and parasites, it insulates against heat and cold, thus providing thermal control and also moisture control. Without the froth the insect would quickly dry up.

Spittlebug adult.

Spittlebug adult.

Description

Adults are oval, frog-faced, and 6 to 10 mm long. They are tan, mottled brown, or black and are similar to leafhoppers in appearance but stouter, with sharp spines on the hind legs. Adults are very active and jump when disturbed. Nymphs are yellow to yellow-green in color, look similar to adults but are wingless, and can be found inside the foamy mass of “spittle.” Eggs are white to beige in color.

Life Cycle

Overwintering eggs hatch in spring (mid-April), and nymphs develop for 6-7 weeks in spittle masses on plant stems. Adults feed throughout summer and start to lay overwintering eggs in rows on stems or stubble by early fall, around September.

Host Plants

Strawberry, legume forage crops such as clover and alfalfa, many ornamental and nursery plants including junipers and pine trees.

Spittlebug nymph.

Spittlebug nymph.

Damage

Spittlebugs are rarely a serious problem in home gardens simply causing an unsightly mess. In crop plants however, adults and nymphs suck plant juices, causing stunted, dwarfed, and weakened plants with reduced yields. Adults migrate in large numbers from hay fields to nearby crops when hay is cut; this is when home gardens can be suddenly infested.

Organic Control and Prevention of Spittlebugs

1. Cultural control: Spittlebug eggs overwinter in old garden debris and other such areas so a good garden clean up ridding of old plant material before the start of every growing season will considerably limit the numbers that hatch. Make a point to till under stubble of foliage legumes in the fall as they are usually found there.

2. Monitor, handpick and spray: Keep a keen eye out for spittlebug patches and when you detect them, spray a direct stream of water on the patches to dislodge as many nymphs as possible. Light accessible infestations can be removed by hand or by a strong water spray.

Spittlebug infestation.

Spittlebug infestation.

3. Row covers: Spittlebugs are fond of grasses, so when nearby hay fields are cut, make sure to cover your susceptible garden plants with a floating row cover.

4. Homemade spray: A garlic or hot based organic homemade insecticide works well for spittlebugs. Using both garlic and peppers, you can do a double whammy on them! Puree peppers, garlic and water together. Let it sit for a day. Strain and mix in an organic liquid soap. Wipe the foam off your plants and spray this mixture. Always test a little of this mixture on a portion of the plant first to ensure that it will not harm it. Also, don’t apply such mixtures on a hot or sunny day, as the plant could burn and ultimately die.

5. Predatory insects: There isn’t any known effective natural control for spittlebugs but praying mantises prey on most insects that you would hate, so they would be your best bet. Order a case of them or attract them to your garden.

6. Plant based oils: Use neem oil or a citrus based oil to control and prevent insect infestations. They usually act as feeding deterrents and help disrupt normal bug activity.

7. Organic insecticidal soap: Several organic insecticidal soaps are available in the market that help control and rid of spittlebugs along with several other pests, Insecticidal Soap Concentrate being one of them. This organic soap contains potassium salts of fatty acids which help break down insect outer shell and cause dehydration and loss of body fluids.

You’ve probably heard about the mysterious disappearance of bees in Europe, North America and other parts of the world. The possible reasons for this phenomenon called colony collapse disorder (CCD) are climate change, genetically modified crops, pesticides and fungicides, parasites and pathogens, toxins in the environment, malnutrition, migratory beekeeping, genetics, habitat loss among several others. The loss of honey bees means much more than just high honey prices: bees are primary pollinators in both the human and animal food chains. bees

10 Things You Can Do To Help Save Bees

1. Plant bee-friendly plants

Bees are all about pollen and nectar, as they need it to feed their colonies. Just planting flowers in your garden, yard, or in a planter will provide bees with forage. Flowering trees such as tulip poplars, oranges, tupelos and sourwoods are also attractive to bees.

Here are some easy-to-grow bee friendly plants: lilacs, penstemon, lavender, sage, verbena, wisteria, mint, cosmos, squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, sunflowers, oregano, rosemary, poppies, black-eyed Susan, passion flower vine, honeysuckle, fuchsia, toadflax, honeywort, ironweed, yarrow, yellow hyssop, alfalfa, dragonhead, Echinacea, bee balm, buttercup, goldenrod and English thyme.

2. Weeds can be a good thing

If it’s bees you want to help, a lawn full of clover and dandelions is not just a good thing- it’s a great thing- a haven for honeybees and other native pollinators too.

3. Provide bee habitat

A secure place to live is important to solitary and colony bees. Unlike honeybees that live in their cozy waxy hives (they still need a safe location), natural bees make use of many kinds of shelter: abandoned animal burrows, dead trees and branches and in underground nest tunnels.

Help wood-nesting bees by placing a few inexpensive bee blocks out in the garden. Bee blocks are basically blocks of wood with holes of various sizes. Open a rent-free apartment complex for burrowing bees by providing a mound of loose earth near a water source.

4. Eliminate garden chemicals and pesticides.

They may make your plants look pristine and pretty, but they’re actually ruining the life in your garden’s biosphere. Not to mention the residue of toxic pesticides in the soil and crops you grow. Instead investigate and practice organic and natural means of pest control and gardening.

Vibrant chemical-free plants and gardens are a friendly invitation to bees.

5. Buy local, raw honey. Support your local beekeepers.

If you’re buying from a grocery store, the label will say if the honey is untreated as it is a major selling point. Strive to buy local, raw honey that is from hives untreated by chemicals. Seek out your local beekeepers and buy their honey. There are health benefits to eating raw unprocessed honey, and keeping small beekeepers in business is good for everyone.

6. Become a beekeeper.

If it interests you, learn how to be a beekeeper with sustainable practices. Look up a local bee association in your community that offers classes with natural approaches and link up.

7. Keep a bowl of fresh water outside your home.

Did you know bees need to drink water? They seek out shallow water sources like puddles and bird baths. Even if you don’t keep bees, you can help our little pollinator friends by keeping a bird bath or even just a saucer of fresh water out in the garden for them. And while you’re at it, put a stone or something for them to perch on while they drink as bees are not known to be good swimmers.

8. Share solutions with others in your community

Of the many fun ways to help and be a voice for the bees, sharing solutions and educating your local community about the importance of bees can be very fulfilling. Get involved and spread the word at local community meetings, at conferences, in schools and universities, and on online message boards and forums.

9. Let your government officials and policy makers know how you feel.

Change has to happen from both top-down as well as bottom-up. Sign petitions banning pesticides. Write in to your parliament representatives letting them know what you think. Encourage your local authority to do more to help bees. Volunteer to help if you can.

10. Buy organic food, practice organic gardening!

Organic farmers don’t use neonicotinoid pesticides. They also have more complex crop rotations meaning there is a greater diversity of plants for bees to forage on. Supporting organic farmers by buying organic is an everyday action with a big impact. Use organic techniques and grow a wide range of crops in your garden.