I’ve not had a very successful year on the plot. The lack of a summer has a number of effects, the first is that crops drown or at least fail to thrive under leaden skies and drizzle whilst the weeds just seem to love it. Then the slugs just love the damp weather. I’ve never seen so many or such large ones. Most of all, in grotty weather you just don’t feel like going outside and there’s no substitute for the attention of the grower.
So, it’s rather nice to report one win at least! Our Sarpo blight-resistant potatoes have performed marvellously. When the rest of the potatoes haulm yellowed and died, the Sarpo just carried on. We dug them up yesterday and from half a raised bed, 1.8 square metres, got nearly 20Kg of good sized tubers.
Normally you would allow freshly harvested potatoes to dry on the surface for a day before bagging up but knowing rain was due ours have gone straight into the shed and been spread out on an old shower curtain to dry and harden the skins before sacking up.
Sarpo potatoes are really a revolution for growers. We’ve always had some varieties that are more resistant to blight than others but Sarpo seem immune. The commercial growers have a range of chemical controls for blight that aren’t available to the amateur but even they’ve been overwhelmed this year.
Generally control chemicals are sprayed as a preventative rather than a cure for blight and need to be reapplied to keep the crop safe. When it does nothing but rain it washes the chemicals off, the blight gets a hold and that’s it. Sarpo, with their built in resistance, don’t need a spray to defend them.
The runners have basically finished now. At least we’ve had something of a crop but nothing like as good as we’ve had in past years. It’s often hard to be sure what the reason is for failure – or success – but I think that apart from the cool wet summer, our beans have suffered from wind.
The veg plot is quite exposed and being as we’re 600 feet up with clear views across the sea, we don’t half get wind. I’m actually surprised the canes have held up and not blown over.
My leeks are behind but seem to be coming along now. Hopefully we’ll be able to pull a few decent sized ones in a few weeks. Because of the continual rain washing nutrients out of the ground, I’ve been giving them extra pelleted chicken manure. Seems to be working, he said with fingers firmly crossed and holding his lucky charm!