Archive for the 'Pests & Diseases' Category


White Rot!

Ack! I’ve got White Rot on my Garlic. I noticed that some of them had started to split and the leaves were turning more and more yellow. I pulled one up to investigate and that’s when I discovered this nasty little fungal disease, lurking beneath the surface. It’s not good news. White Rot is serious stuff for which there is no cure. All I can do is lift the affected plants and burn them. I won’t be able to grow Garlic in the same spot for quite some years, maybe even eight! Bummer.

I think the disease must have come in either some bags of manure I bought at the garden centre or else infected soil from potted plants. I grew Garlic last year and it was fine. But the worst of it is I also have a whole crop of onions (very susceptible to White Rot) growing right next to the Garlic. Hmmmm…

I suppose I’m lucky in the fact that I have four separate beds here at mtp. Each one with slightly different soil (one sandy, one stony etc) so I do have some other options. I’m also wondering if I shouldn’t dig all the soil out of that particular bed and replace it? Does anyone have any experience of that?

It feels quite cruel to be thwarted by nature in this way after all the care and attention I’ve put in. Especially, with something so devastating. To be fair though, I have had some very nice Garlic in the past. I guess this is just the year the Garlic gets it huh?

Off to drown my sorrows.


Why Pinch Out Broadbean Tips?

broadbean tips

Yesterday, I ran along my Broadbean row, and like a good girl, I pinched out the tips from each plant. I was pleased with the results until I realised that I didn’t actually know why I’d just done it. I had some vague recollection of reading it somewhere in a book and that it had something to do with blackfly.

So I looked it up. Apparently, the main reason why you should nip out the tips is that it redirects the plant’s energy into setting fruit, rather than growing taller. So you should only nip out the tips once three or four trusses of flowers have appeared.

Secondly, nipping out the tips takes away the part of the plant that is most susceptible to blackfly attack and therefore discourages a future attack. If you already have blackfly then you’ll be removing most of them as you nip. So, everyone’s a winner, as they say.

Lastly, you can cook the tips (providing they are not infested with blackfly, of course). Wash and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Then treat like Spinach or Greens. I might try some.

So now I know why I’m pinching out the tips of my broadbeans I can be reassured that I’m doing the right thing. Yes…it’s much better to have all of the information, all of the time.

I recently sowed some Broadbeans. While doing some research I found out a few things that I didn’t know before now. I learned last year that you should soak them overnight before sowing. Which I did.

However, once soaked, previously I would have thrown the lot in the ground. But now I know that some Broadbeans are good, and some, well, not so much. It’s all about looking very carefully at your seeds and finding those tell-tale signs that will tell you if should sow the seed or bin it.

Firstly, if your seed has a black line where the little dimple is (it’s called a hilium apparently) then bin it.

If the hilium looks more like this then sow it.

Lastly, if your seed looks like it has had some critter make it its home, then surely bin it. What’s left should be nice, viable seed that will give you a better chance of germination. Happy Broadbean sowing.


Argghh! Blighted Tomatoes

I came back from holiday, tired, weary and very, very jet-lagged to find this in my garden. I could have wept right there and then. Virtually all of my Tomatoes were ruined by blight. Today, I spend an hour or so pulling up the dead plants and collecting the rotted Tomatoes in an attempt to keep the spores from lingering in the soil. It was like wrestling with the living dead! Horrid, dried-up, gnarled and crispy the plants spat pock-marked, flea-infested, brown gunk at me as I pulled them out of the ground and stuffed them in the bin liner. I hate Tomatoes.


Amazing Caterpillar

Holy Heck! I found this guy hanging out in the Wisteria – quietly munching through some new shoots. He’s so amazing that I had to get my camera out and shoot him. Does anyone know what he will become? Something funky I bet.


Protecting Peas from Pea Moth


If your peas are flowering, like mine are, then now is the time time to cover the plants with Enviromesh. Pea moths lay their eggs on the flowers of peas at this time of year and the resulting tiny, cream-coloured grub will burrow into your pea-pods ready for you to find later on in the season when you harvest your peas. Protecting the crop now will mean grub-free pea soup later. Unless you need the protein of course?


Halejulah for Carrots!

carrot harvest Holy heck, I’ve actually managed to harvest some carrots that are not either so small you need a magnifying glass to see them, so forked that they’re impossible to eat or so infested with carrot fly that err… you wouldn’t want to eat them anyway. This is the batch that I sowed direct in the old cold frame back in March. One of two things is happening here: either I sowed the carrots so early that they missed the first wave of flies or that my cunning plan of using the cold frame two-thirds full really did act as a barrier to the vertically challenged carrotfly. It’s anyone’s guess which one was working for me here but by the next harvest I should be able to tell as they were sowed much later. So it’s time for celebration here at mtp – after 3 years of trying we finally get to taste home grown carrot. Who said growing your own was easy?


Brassicas planted

planting brassicas
The brassicas are all tucked up in their new home. We planted two Broccoli plants, three red cabbage plants and three cauliflower plants. Mtp has a bit of club root problem so we needed to add some lime to each hole and dig it into the soil before we planted them. Then each plant received its own brassica collar to deter cabbage root fly from laying its eggs around the stem and then the whole patch was covered in fine grade mesh to keep the butterflies out. Man, brassicas are hard work! I’m amazed anyone grows them.


The Cabbage White

Oh no, they’ve started early this year – the cabbage whites I mean. This poor little cauliflower seedling is playing host to a spongy green visitor. The first tell-tale sign was the folded over leaf. Then I saw the cotton wool like residue and after a few pokes he finally popped his head out. I didn’t have the heart to kill him so I popped him underneath my deck – there’s plenty to eat down there and by the time he can fly the brassica seedlings will be far, far away. The only way to stop this is to keep your seedlings covered but I thought as it’s so early I would be okay. The next caterpillar I come across may not be so lucky.



yellow ladybird
This little fella, I’m reliably informed, is a 22-spot Harlequin ladybird. They’re non-preditory and ‘eat the mildews and other microscopic fungi that grow on plant tissues’. Quite rare apparently but often found wandering around in my cutting garden seedlings.

« Prev - Next »