Down on the Allotment

What's happening down on the allotment? An intimate account of a passionate veggie grower.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Dreaded B Word!

I suppose it was inevitable really, that due to the amount of warmth and moisture on the plot over the last few weeks, it looks as if my blight resistant potatoes may be starting to show signs of Potato Blight. This is not good news for veggie growers and early preventative measures should be taken. Blight is a fungus which thrives in these warm, damp conditions and if left un-treated will wash itself down into the soil and destroy all your potatoes underground as well. These dark brown patches are indicative of the early stages of blight. They are only appearing on a very few of the potato leaves and the vast majority are strong, green and healthy - but they won't stay that way. I dug up one plant and the potatoes are perfect and of a good enough size for a maincrop. My solution to this issue - was to remove all green growth from the plant and leave short stalks to show where the potatoes are underground. I made sure all green leaves were taken away and not put on the compost heap, they must be destroyed.
I hope that because this was a blight resistant variety Sarpo Axona, they may stand a better chance of surviving. Meanwhile, elsewhere on the plot, some good news. This heritage variety of climbing bean 'Lazy Housewife' is working hard. Healthy green leaves and masses of lovely beans which look like they are half way between a runner bean and a French bean. Superb taste, and very tender.
My sweet corn looks as if it might be starting to think about to prepare to get ready to eat. The tassles on the end of the cob have turned brown which indicates that pollination has taken place successfully. I opened the cob just a few inches and see that the corn kernels need just a bit longer to swell up and ripen. This variety is Conqueror which is bred to be more suitable to our cooler Summers!
This morning I carefully inspected every single leaf of every single broccoli plant. Here is an example of the eggs of the dastardly cabbage white butterfly. It is fiddly and time consuming but these must be squashed between thumb and finger if you don't want to spray.
Finally, you might remember that in the Spring I planted groups of White Lisbon spring onion seed in modules. I think they are called scallions in the USA? They were planted out in bunches so that they could be picked in bunches. Well, I didn't get round to eating many of them...
So they grew up!
Now I have bunches of large white onions - and boy are they strong!

20 Comments:

At 8:17 PM, Blogger mangocheeks said...

Sorry to read about the blight, but the weather has been so changeable.

I admire the look of your onions. So big!

 
At 9:26 PM, Blogger Engineeredgarden said...

Good find on the eggs! You an I deal with them the exact same way, and it's alot better than spraying chemicals everywhere. Those sure are some big onions!

 
At 12:22 AM, Blogger Miss M (InfG) said...

I think I’ve been hit with B too. I was just reading about cutting the stems as an option of dealing with it. But mine haven’t even bloomed yet, does that make a difference ? Will they keep growing ?

The beans are beautiful and the corn looks great ! You could enter those scallions in a big veg competition ! lol. :)

 
At 2:14 AM, Anonymous Karen said...

Sorry about the B-word, I hope your remedy works. I don't know if my potatoes got that or the vines just died down naturally as they should. Since this is my first year growing them, I am not sure of anything! Hope to find a good harvest when it's time to dig them up, but who knows. Cabbage white butterflies are so cute as they flit around, but I know their end result is lots of devastation where they lay their eggs. Glad you found that little clutch, bye bye cabbage worms! I love scallions but haven't planted them in a while. I did forget about some purple ones once, they bulbed up a bit but not like yours, wow!

 
At 3:20 AM, Anonymous kitsapFG said...

Tough luck on the blight - but it sounds like you got the crop far enough along that removing the foliage will not impair them finishing up for you with a decent harvest.

 
At 6:15 AM, Blogger lilymarlene said...

That happened to me the year before last. So I did exactly what you have done, leaving short stems to show where they are, and dug them up as and when I wanted them over the next 5 or 6 months, and had no blight damage at all.

Waiting for my first Lazy Housewife beans (all mine were late going in this year due to my bad back episode in the spring).......I have a host of flowers so should get a host of beans!

 
At 9:04 AM, Blogger corbie said...

Your photo really does not look like blight but is much more likely due to the foliage getting old and bottom leaves dying off naturally. Look at some of the photos on blight websites to see what real blight looks like. If you do have blight, the most important tactic is to let tubers mature in the soil for 3 weeks or more before digging them up - gives time for spores in soil to die off. Spores will infect even blight resisting varieties during lifting as you can't avoid breaking the skin a little. I would leave the plants to grow a bit more if you have not cut them all down.

 
At 1:29 PM, OpenID livinginalocalzone said...

I was just reading on another blog that the white onions seem to be the hardiest as compared to the red, and even to the yellow. Do you happen to know if that is a trait of the variety in general?
Pest control, ugh, how frustrating that can be. Do you have to pick/choose at times what to really put the bulk effort into for combating the persistant kinds?

 
At 2:57 PM, Blogger Vegetable Heaven said...

I only grow earlies so I don't get the dreaded b-word but it must be heartbreaking. I also harvested 'maincrop' spring onions yesterday (whoops!) and I'm growing Conqueror sweetcorn too. I'm further behind than you, as always.

 
At 11:29 PM, Blogger Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I think my potatoes may have blight too. I thought the leaves were just drying up, but they look like your picture. I know nothing about potatoes and have just been lucky to get them at all.
The corn looks great! I've never had luck with it. I bet it'll be delicious.

 
At 11:37 PM, Blogger Robert said...

My overwintering onions mostly rotted due to waterlogging, and my spring-planted ones are no good due to onion fly. Blight hit the spuds last month, and wiped out the toms.

I have at least got a potato crop, since I cut down the top growth before the disease spread too far. It was all over the charlottes, but the Cara next to them only had the odd small blemish, and the pink for apple had none at all, but was no good anyway, probably due to waterlogging. Next year I'm planning to concentrate on resistant varieties. That's easy for maincrops, but there are few if any resistant earlies. It doesn't matter for first earlies, but second earlies may be a waste of time at this rate. I get a crop, but I might be better using all iorst earlies.

 
At 1:21 AM, Blogger Scarlett the Heavenly Healer said...

We saw the first signs of the dreaded B today. It's at the far end of our site and thankfully has not yet reached my plot. I'll check again tomorrow and pull off the tomato leaves if necessary, then just hope for the best.
I grew first early potatoes this year, to avoid the B. It was a successful plan! And some Edzell Blues which are still in the ground, in flower. They show no signs but I may cut the foliage as a precautionary measure.

Oh well, we can't win them all. Your onions look great though!

 
At 9:31 AM, Blogger chaiselongue said...

Sorry to hear about the blight. Your sweetcorn looks great, though. I've decided to try it next year (a hotter-climate variety than yours, probably) since our neighbour gave us some of his and recommended cooking them on the barbecue - they were amazing, so sweet!

 
At 12:19 PM, Blogger Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

Sounds like a destroyer, the potato blight!
I'm growing a small patch of veggies - cucumber, bitter gourd , spring onion, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, long beans and french beans. All coming along nicely. Blogging on the herb,known as cat's whiskers or misai kuching, in Malay. Pop over!

 
At 3:33 PM, Blogger Carrie said...

The B word is a bad word round our way (remember I live in Ireland!) We got it on our site last month and everyone had it in no time. Disappointing but we cut the foilage off early enough to save most of the spuds.

 
At 11:15 AM, Blogger lotusleaf said...

Thanks for visiting my blog.Please visit again. I am also growing french beans, and they are just the right size now.

 
At 4:29 PM, Blogger Hazel said...

My 'forgotton' springers were entered into the Show last weekend as 'bulbing onions' - they looked fab, although they didn't win a prize...

I cut my maincrop rooster & pentland dell down when the tomatoes went down to the dreaded B...they've had 17wks, and the rooster look to be a good crop despite it all.

Your lazy housewife are looking good - I take it that you recommend them? I'm looking for next year's varieties, so may put them on the list.

Your sweetcorn looks great - miles ahead of ours!

 
At 11:53 PM, Blogger Maureen said...

WOW! the onions look lovely. I've had loads of great onions myself this year. I've also been squashing those horrible caterpiller eggs on my brassicas as well. There have been so many cabbage whites around on the allotment this year, I am begining to think that none of us will have anything to harvest next year. I have even spotted them in other peoples netted cages, how they get in is anybody guess.

 
At 7:49 AM, Blogger Bob said...

Hi Matron, I'm sorry to hear you have blight in your potato crop. Hopefully cutting off the tops in good time will prevent it going in to the tubers.

 
At 7:50 AM, Blogger Bob said...

Hi Matron, I'm sorry to hear you have blight in your potato crop. Hopefully cutting off the tops in good time will prevent it going in to the tubers.

 

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