Keeping spring gardens in check
There is an upside for gardeners to the wet spring.
The natural rainfall with atmospheric nitrogen added acts to stimulate the soil food web, produce good growth and better quality fruit.
There is no need to irrigate using chlorinated tap water, so there is less harm to the soil life.
Plants have responded and in most cases are growing healthily.
However, there is a downside - temperature fluctuations and damp conditions can cause leaf diseases to run rampart.
Garlic crops, for instance are being attacked by rust.
To reduce damage, spray every one to two weeks with potassium permanganate ( 1⁄ teaspoon to litre
4 of water with Raingard added).
Use the same spray weekly to combat curly leaf on stone fruit, and on any other signs of leaf diseases.
Excess water around plant roots will cause leaves to yellow. A monthly spray with Perkfection will help them recover.
‘Early’ potato varieties mature in about 90 days and are considered ready when they flower.
Those sown in August/September could be mature and ready to harvest now.
Lift one plant to check the results.
If of a good size, either lift the whole crop and store in a cool shed, or leave them in the ground. Lifting the crop will make that area available for other vegetables to grow.
Apply chicken manure, blood and bone, lime, BioBoost, sheep manure pellets, and Rok Solid, and lightly rake in ready for sowing or planting.
Left in the ground, cut off the tops at ground level and cover the stubble with soil.
Seal the tops in a black plastic rubbish bag.
The reason for removing the tops is to prevent psyllids from damaging the potatoes when they feed on the tops.
There may be psyllids on the foliage and bagging it stops them multiplying.
If the crop is not ready to harvest, apply Neem Tree Powder to the soil as a side dressing and spray the foliage with Super Neem Oil. Check again two weeks later. If there are only pea-sized potatoes that are already sending up shoots, it means psyllids have got to the plants before they could grow. Black rings inside the potatoes will confirm this.
It’s about now that psyllid populations start to explode.
Quarantine cloth over the plants will help.
Quarantine cloth has a 25 per cent shade factor - OK if the garden is in all-day sun, but on dull hazy days it really cuts down on useable sunlight, affecting growth and productivity.
An alternative is crop cover (bug mesh) with a 15 per cent shade factor, which will keep out all insects except psyllids, as well as preventing damage by birds and cats.
Use 13mm black alkathene piping to make hoops to raise the cloth over the crop.
Flowering tomato plants may need a little pollination assistance to set the fruit.
Outdoors, a breeze or wing vibrations from a passing bumble bee will achieve this. Indoors, try the vibrations from a tuning fork held near the plants
Problems ring me at 0800 466 464 (Palmerston North 357 0606) Email email@example.com.
Garden plants mostly benefit from natural rainfall, although abundant moisture and fluctuating temperatures can bring on leaf diseases.