Tuesday 27 July 2010

Playing Chicken

Not my chicken

One of the things that is most feared by any gardener of potatoes or tomatoes is blight. This year, partly through laziness, partly through a sort of inane over confidence, I've been ignoring it and so far, I've been lucky.

The first two years here our potatoes were devastated by blight - smelly rotten destroyed plants that left us feeling helpless and depressed. Determined never to be caught out like that again I signed up for Blightwatch and the Potato Council's Fight against Blight and instigated a programme of preventative spraying with Bordeaux mixture. By this time of the season last year I had sprayed potatoes five times and the tomatoes twice. It worked, or seemed to, we had insignificant amounts of blight. Unfortunately we also had a lot of copper spread around and the eating of a tomato warm from the sun in the field became a thing of the past. Everything needed a really good wash before consumption.

This year after the punishingly cold winter and conditions that are approaching drought the blight seems to be at bay. Although the blight organism is evolving and becoming more able to withstand freezing conditions we're such a long way from anyone else I think the blight spores here are relatively old school (how do I know, I don't but I can hold an opinion can't I?). More importantly still, the very low humidity prevents the damn stuff from reproducing at all, so the need for chemicals is reduced although we're paying for it in smaller yields. Constantly expecting the worst and yet doing nothing, we seem to have got away with it. If I had to take the potatoes up now there it would by no means be the end of the world and the tomatoes are looking fine, just need a few more weeks to ripen.

However, the garden is dying and I'm praying for rain. From all over the place others are reporting that blight has moved in, my nerves won't stand it any more and today I sprayed.

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