Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.
After a dry winter we seem to be having the coolest and wettest Summer on record which really isn’t doing most of the crops much good on the allotments. One of the few things that do seem to be enjoying the weather are my Beetroot which I have started to pull already. The seed was sown, in trays with little cells in, so that they could be started early and transplanted in plugs with about 3 or 4 young plants in, without disturbing the roots. The damp has made them grow well and means that I can remove the biggest out of each little clump, leaving the others to grow on, without them suffering from their roots being disturbed.
The constant wet has made many of the Onion tops turn down even though they aren’t really mature and some people have got them rotting in the ground. Garlic doesn’t seem to have faired very well either with “Rust” breaking out in places causing the need for it to be pulled early to stop it deteriorating further. I don’t know how big “Elephant Garlic,” is supposed to get, but I am quite impressed with the difference in size although I have yet to taste it.
The Potatoes on the allotment are causing everybody to panic. A few days ago one plot holder noticed that the leaves were going black on some of his plants and before he could decide what to do the whole lot had gone black. Thinking it might be Potato Blight, he decided to cut off all the tops which is supposed to stop the rot from going down to the roots. Others on the site examined their crops and many spotted similar blackening and rotting on the leafy top growth. Such was the general panic that the Allotment Secretary sent out an E-mail giving advice on how best to deal with the problem. Most sprays can’t be used on the site as it is supposed to be “Organic,” but good old fashioned “Bordeaux Mixture,” is one permissible treatment. I think most people have decided, like I did, to either, cut off the tops, or dig up the “Earlies” and “Mids,” which shouldn’t be too bad for size, and hope that the “Lates” are developed enough to use as “New Potatoes.”
As of writing this I haven’t dug up my old fashioned “Pink Fir Apple,” row, but I have dug up the new Purple variety. (Salad Blue) The skins are very dark and difficult to distinguish from large stones, but the row gave a worthwhile bucketful after much careful tilling of the soil. Where the skins were nicked by the fork, the juices ran a vivid purple, so I couldn’t wait to get the potatoes home and try them. The instructions said they are best lightly boiled to preserve the colour after cooking and they are said to be good, served cold, in salads, to add a little colour to the plate. I can report that they do look good as they only lose a little of their colour nearest to the skin, but just they do taste like any other potato.
The Advice given by the Secretary, also included a list of Potato varieties that are said to be “Blight,” resistant which could be very useful for next year as the problem could be that the infection could linger on over the Winter in carelessly discarded vegetation ready to break out again in the following seasons crop. Most people are though, it seems, being responsible and removing their dead vegetation from the site altogether. My own thoughts are that I might try a different staple crop altogether in place of the potatoes next year if the weather stays the same. The allotments are sited on quite a steep, south sloping slope and if the plots are “Terraced,” they should be ideal for growing Rice!