Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
Alan J Hartley
Disease And Pest Resistant Varieties.
When my Potatoes started to develop Potato Blight after the exceptionally wet Spring/Summer, I hurriedly cut off the tops in the hopes that the potatoes under the ground could be saved, which they were. It’s a trick that might have prevented the Potato Famine back in the 1700’s, or whenever it was, but it only works if the Potatoes have developed enough under the ground to be worth harvesting. It seems that everyone on the site who had planted “Earlies,” did alright, but the “Lates,” were too small and useless on those plants that had to be cut down. However, there were a lucky few plot-holders who had actually planted Blight resistant varieties anyway, of which there are many, and of course their potatoes were not infected at all.
My two rows of Tomatoes, which were foolishly planted next to the potatoes, were also struck down with Blight. There were no ripe tomatoes, but the row of earlier developing, yellow, “Golden Sunrise,” did yield a reasonable quantity of green tomatoes for chutney. As a high proportion of outdoor Tomatoes would normally be expected to end up as chutney anyway, the crop was not a total disaster.
There is always a lot of talk of Blight Resistant varieties of Potatoes, but I had never heard of resistant varieties of Tomatoes, so when I looked the seeds up on the website of one of the larger seed companies, I was surprised to see that many varieties are actually listed as being Blight resistant. Knowing the persistence of Potato Blight in infected soil, I had thought that I wouldn’t be able to grow either Potatoes, or Tomatoes on the site again, but this is obviously not true, as all I will do is simply buy resistant varieties for planting next year. I will however, dig the compost that has been made from the infected plant tops, back into the infected part of my plot, to limit the spread of the spore like, viral infection.
Previously when I had thought about the fact that the Allotments are supposed to be an environmentally friendly, or Organic site, and no chemicals are permitted, I had decided to try “Companion Planting,” as I did with my Carrots, to prevent some diseases and other problems, but after finding the resistant varieties of Potatoes and Tomatoes, I found a Carrot called, “Flyaway,” that resists “Carrot Root Fly.”
Further investigations revealed that the Bean family can be prone to the Mosaic, or “Cucumber Mosaic Virus,” and again, I found that there are many varieties of the whole family, with all the different types of beans, whether they are Runners, Climbing, French, or Broad, etc, that are resistant to the Virus. After some more careful reading I discovered that many seed varieties of all types of vegetables are bred to be resistant to the most common problems that affect each particular type of vegetable, so it is not just a case of buying any old packet of cheap seeds that happen to be on offer. On an Organic site especially, a little more thought needs to go into selecting the right seeds to grow, not only for the preferred plant characteristics, but also to prevent problems with pests and diseases occurring that are difficult to deal with, without resorting to lots of chemicals, when they do.