Feed and Disease
· General balanced compound fertilizers - Growmore or Fish, blood and bone, apply spring two weeks before planting.
Folia feeds - mixed with water and sprayed onto foliage. Regarded as a quick fix and can often be wasteful. Do not apply during direct sunlight as can cause scorching.
Composts tea - Brewed compost mix that is applied direct to ground as a drench. It is a live mix that introduces beneficial organisms to the soil, aiding soil fertility.
Chicken pellets - organic application best used between harvesting and planting a new crop mid season.
Organic liquid feeds - horse manure, comfrey placed in water-butt / container with resulting liquid diluted in 50/50 with water and applied to ground. High nitrogen content.
PEST and DISEASE:
· Slugs and snails - can attack developing vegetables. Nematodes, slug pellets, grit, hand-picking can be used for control.
Greenfly, blackfly, whitefly - cause black sooty mould deposits. Spray with insecticide, hand-pick, encourage wildlife into garden and beneficial insects like Ladybirds.
Caterpillars - troublesome on brassicas. Use netting to protect crop, hand-pick small numbers, encourage wildlife into garden.
Potato Blight - infects potato and tomato, likely July onwards. Grow 1st and 2nd earlies as they are generally unaffected, compared to maincrop potato’s. If continued problems with outdoor Tomato’s, grow under glass.
Carrot fly - damaging pests of carrots, parsley, parsnips and celery, 1st generation April-May. Female attracted by aroma of bruised foliage. Low fliers so protect early crop with fleece or erect 2ft (60cm) high barrier around crop. Later sowings less affected.
Cutworms - soil dwelling caterpillar of various moths. Feeds on roots and the base of stems. Good exposure of soil over the winter months for birds to feed on helps to reduce problem.
Powdery Mildew - leaves and stems become covered in powdery coating, due to dryness at the roots. Keep plants moist and ensure good air-flow.
Flea beetle - Eat small holes in the leaves of brassicae seedlings. Damage limited once the plants have developed beyond the seedling stage.
Wireworms - may occur in large numbers in grasslands or weed infested areas, eating roots and affecting the quality of potatoes. Good exposure of soil over winter months for birds to feed on reduces problem.
Many pests and diseases can be reduced by paying attention to good soil preparation and hygiene, with the damage sometimes being just superficial.
The more wildlife you can encourage into your garden or plot will bring degrees of natural control, that will ensure that the vegetables you eat are as you intended.