Spuds and Slugs
Question: I have had a very bad crop of Valor’ main crop potatoes. I grow this variety for their resistance to blight, scab and eel worm but my crop has been decimated by slogs. Can you recommend a variety that has the same resistance to all the above? Any advice would he very welcome.
Answer: I wish I could. Slug resistance is not often given in the descriptions (nor attained in the field). It is possible to find varieties even more susceptible such as ‘Cara’ and ‘Mans Piper’. The renowned horticulturalist Lawrence Hills reckoned ‘Estima’. British Queen’ and ‘Vanessa’ had some dug resistance; however, these do not score highly against the other problems. You will generally find early sorts can be dug and removed before a slog problem gets damaging; second earlies suffer in wet years and main crops nearly always suffer Slug control n possible but expensive if you apply the commercial nematodes Trapping is cheaper; hollowed-out courgettes, fruits, old potatoes and root vegetables, buttered cabbage leaves and even cat food will all attract slugs and can be policed at night.
Just visiting at night with a torch will usually give a good catch. I use strips of carpet between beds to keep in moisture and suppress weeds and these also can be rolled back to reveal many concealing slugs during the day. Slug pubs of beer, milk, fruit juice also trap many You may also lure an increasing crop with chips of old potatoes fit into the soil nearby (from when the flowers blossom), scrutinizing twice weekly.
It’s All About Soil
Question: How can I stop multi-roots on my parsnips? It is a new plot and this is the first year of growing parsnips and only the second year of it being a vegetable patch. I dug n bagged farm manure and 6X compost and the soil looked quite good but the result did not look good at all. Potatoes, runner beans and dwarf beans all did wed.
Answer: Growing good carrots and parsnips is not easy unless you have perfect soil for them but let’s start with the manure. Look up the growing of roots and you’ll always be told to opt for a bed of rich, light soil, free from stones and flints and, crucially, one that was manured for the previous growing season. Newly manured ground is recognized for causing forking however you can add a general purpose fertiliser before sowing. My garden soil is basically day with flints, so I have to choose my bed carefully as some areas of the kitchen garden have better soil than others. Forking will occur if the roots hit stones or lumps of clay too solid to penetrate. I keep meaning to create some raised beds, so I can fill them with lighter soil and make life a bit easier for these fussy roots.
Why Did My Carots Go Curly?
Question: Owing to the dreadful spring and summer in this part of the world my carrots were not growing very well, so for the first time ever I bought some carrot plug plants from a largo reputable garden centre. There was no variety label on them, just ‘carrots’. They grow very wall. Unfortunately, when I harvested them they were all fat and short with multi-twisted fingers and were not viable to use. Can you tell me what went wrong as they were grown in a raised bed with no stones to split them? The ones I sowed myself were fine.
Answer: I ‘m not a terrific lover of raising root crops like carrots in pots because observation and time have to be place on. Several seeds are usually sown per pot so they’ll develop as a small dump. It must be hard for a garden centre to monitor this and I imagine the roots had begun to circle the pot. You could have sown at home into the longer sort of 9 cm pots placed in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame where it would be easy to keep an eye on root development. However, you have a raised bed. Why not make a plastic covered ‘lid’ to fit over the bed? Then you can warm the soil for direct sowings and keep the cover on to protect the seedlings from wet. Propping up one side would provide ventilation should the sun come out.