Q What’s wrong with my main­crop ‘De­siree’ pota­toes?

Gardeners' World - - Q & A - Mal­colm Ste­wart, South West Scot­land

A PIPPA SAYS They ap­pear to have been in­fected with com­mon scab, which is caused by strep­to­myces sca­bies. This prob­lem tends to worsen in light, sandy soils that are low in or­ganic mat­ter or haven’t been cul­ti­vated for long. I got it badly for the first cou­ple of years after turn­ing a bit of rough grass into a veg plot. This com­mon scab is also more likely if your soil is al­ka­line or has been limed re­cently. The good thing is that the dam­age is rarely more than skin deep, at worst caus­ing slight dis­coloura­tion of the flesh just be­neath the scabby ar­eas. It is fine to eat the in­fected tu­bers. There are no con­trols as such, but I’d ad­vise adding more or­ganic mat­ter to the soil and in­creas­ing the acid­ity if the soil is nat­u­rally al­ka­line. Also, avoid plant­ing tu­bers into re­cently limed soil and en­sure that the crop is kept well wa­tered. These steps should help to re­duce the prob­lem next year, as you’ll be pro­vid­ing con­di­tions that scab dis­likes.

This scab-in­fected potato may look un­ap­petis­ing but it is ed­i­ble

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