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All views expressed are the opinions of the author and are not necessarily those of the Society

  January 28th, 2019
Lichfield & District Allotments Society

High Peak

Pests and Diseases

The following comments are my own personal views and are intended to warn and help new members of the society get around the constant challenges posed by the most common pests, bugs and diseases. One thing is for sure, if you don't provide some basic protection then you will be sharing your crops and end up broken hearted.

RABBITS, plenty of them on the Moggs and the only real protection you can provide is to either fence the entire plot or place netting around your individual crops.

MICE are another story and there is no shortage of them, we provide plenty of food, shelter and hiding places, i.e. compost heaps, ground covers etc. Whilst they will nibble most seedlings, the major damage I have had is to my peas & strawberries, last year I protected both successfully with that black plastic quarter inch mesh netting, it's approx 3.49 from Wilko's for 4 x 2 metre net, I cut it into 18 inch high strips to surround the crop and pegged it onto cane sticks after burying the bottom edge a couple of inches into the soil.

PIGEONS, if it's green they will eat it sooner or later and around our site there's virtually nobody that has not lost brassicas, peas or beans at some point or another. The prevention is a simple case of having to net everything, making certain that the crops do not reach the net otherwise the birds simply land on it pushing it onto the plants and eat them through the netting.

SLUGS were a huge problem on many plots last year, I'm not talking about those big black or brown ones that you can pick off, it was the small black nocturnal ones that you don't see that ruined 75% of my potatoes. Whilst you can buy certain products that claim to kill them, it's expensive! So I'm buying slug resistant varieties this year from Edwin Tucker (www.edwintucker.com or tel: 01364 652233) who has an excellent catalogue.

BUGS & FLIES come in all different sizes and varieties, the three worst ones for my money are Allium Leaf Miner - Carrot Fly - Cabbage Root Fly. The Leaf Miner was first identified in Wolverhampton during 2001, there is no known method of killing it, the only thing you can do is to cover all your leeks & onions with either 30g fleece or enviromesh, if you don't then your crops will be ruined! With the Carrot Fly in mind you can buy resistant seed but it's still not 100% proof against attack, best to erect a two foot high fleece barrier or cover them up completely. The cabbage root fly will attack all brassicas unless you fit collars at the planting out stage.

DISEASE such as Blight & Club Root can also devastate crops. Last year was especially bad for potato blight, we would be very unlucky to have another year as bad, although you can buy blight resistant varieties along with some chemical sprays to guard against it. Club Root is rife on most plots around Lichfield, you can buy resistant cabbage seed such as "Kilaton & Kilaxy" and there is also a new Cauliflower called "Clapton" which I'm trying this year, otherwise try planting out into a mixture of sterilised soil and potting compost.

Pat Bardon

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