Further to my previous offering today, and as promised, I would like you to see that all is not perfect after all in my Garden of Eden. Suffice it to say that I have probably every soil pest known to English Vegetable Growers, and harbour many of the plant diseases prevalent in this part of the world. For us English Amateur Vegetable Growers there is very little available chemical help and we are pretty much forced to rely on Mother Nature’s whims. If you are a committed Organic Fanatic, that is probably sweet music to your ears. I would love to be totally organic in my gardening , but after nearly 30 years of doing this , I can see only too easily how the world, as well as my own family, would starve fairly quickly without any chemicals at all, as actual yields would plummet . However, I do believe that, as in all things, a degree of moderation and Common sense should prevail, and that we should all still try our hardest to grow food without any pesticides or fungicides, whilst making judicious use of a few choice artificial aids.
Just to put you in the picture, and following roughly the same order of Vegetable plants as illustrated in the video in my previous post, here are some of the Pests and Diseases I have to contend with:
- Rust on Leeks. I try not to grow them near the same spot as last year, and have temporarily given up growing Garlic at all in the Vegetable Garden, in the hope that the spores will gradually die out. Pick them young and eat them as soon as they exhibit any signs of this fungal disease which is always much more prevalent in warm wet weather, and probably don’t grow any alliums for at least 3 years if really badly affected.
- Tomatoes. The Dreaded Blight is all that affects outdoor grown tomatoes. I must confess to having stockpiled a quantity of Dithane Plus which I use to spray them and the potatoes with, once a month from now until September. Interestingly, the Greeks in the Ionian Islands also suffer from tomato blight in the early Summer months, but it usually stops spreading come high summer in the Mediterranean. Actually, many of those lovely tomatoes that you see in the markets on holiday in the Mediterranean are grown under plastic!
- Cavolo Nero, aka Black Tuscany Kale. This really suffers from whitefly from late summer onwards. All available sprays are quite ineffective. Just eat it young and immature. There is nothing more disheartening than trying to scrub off a thick layer of these aphids whist doing the Sunday Lunch in November–Yes, they will infest the plants all through the winter too!
- Peas. What Heaven when they first come! Having in the past run the gamut of mice attacks on the outdoor sown seeds–I now only sow them indoors in guttering, before transplanting outside when a few inches tall- their only real pest is the Pea Moth .This lays its eggs in the flowers, and the newly hatched maggots then worm their way into the pods and devour the growing peas inside, making a terrible and unsightly mess in the process. We always used to spray the peas at flowering time with Fenitrothion, but the EU in all its majesty has banned this chemical too, so you will just have to put up with losing up to 1/3 of your crop in a bad year. Early sown peas, like these Feltham First, are less badly affected, if at all, but it is the Maincrop Peas such as Hurst Greenshaft which really take a battering. Of course, the Commercial Growers can use all sorts of artificial aids, and peas grown in an open field will always be better off than when in an enclosed Garden such as my own.
- Carrot Root Fly. You have to put up an impermeable barrier of at least 2’6” height. Nothing else will do if you want to have any carrots at all. Forget Companion Planting! Here I use 2 layers of polypropylene, and still one or two female carrot flies manage to find a way in. The female flies cannot fly higher than 2 feet, hence the barrier. Oh, how I long for the return of Bromophos. All my forebears used this , or its successor Chlorophos, and we all live to a ripe old age. I know it is an organophosphate, but exactly how bad was it really when used in a responsible fashion?
- Strawberries. Slugs, Slugs, Slugs and Birds! Netting and Slug pellets liberally applied.
Broad Beans . Blackfly will attack these as soon as the weather warms up. You must pinch of the tops of each plant as soon as you spot the first ones
Other than that just keep picking them. They may get a fungal disease called Chocolate spot, in very prolonged wet weather, but this is not usually fatal, although yields may be diminished.
- Jerusalem Artichokes. Absolutely indestructible, although the dogs love to eat their leaves.Globe Artichokes ditto , although all the Blackfly will migrate readily to their soft tips once you have dealt with the broad beans. Thank Goodness for Ladybirds who devour Blackfly at an amazing rate , and you can just see one in this photo!