PEST AND DISEASE WATCH
BLIGHT: This fungal disease, more prevalent in wet end warm summers, I t usually devastating. The leaves will turn brown and spread downwards, ultimately causing the tubers to rot. A good range of blight-resistant varieties is currently available.
POTATO BLACKLEG: This is another fungal disease which causes stems to turn black end rot. Infected foliage should be removed and burned.
SCAB: The tubers continue to be edible but a bit unsightly. Avert lime.
Potatoes like a sunny position in a fertile soil which has benefited from a good digging in of well-rotted manure in the autumn or winter prior to planting. For Christmas potatoes a ‘maincrop’ (rather than ’first early’ or ’second early’) variety should be planted in the latter half of April end harvested September-October for storing over winter.
Potatoes are grown from ‘seed’ potatoes which can be purchased online or from garden centres. Sow 38cm (15in) apart, in rows 75cm (30in) apart, and in trenches (3-15cm) (5-6in) deep. Be sure to plant with the ’eye’, (small indentations in the potato) facing upwards as best you can.
When the stems are about 23cm (9in) in height earth up the soil around them by drawing soil from between the rows over the haulms (or stems) However, do watch out for late frosts end to cover your plants with horticultural fleece if cold weather is forecast. Frost will blacken the foliage of your plants and seriously set them back. Continue to earth up around your plants until the ridge is about 25cm (10in) high. Water regularly, especially in dry spells to prevent scab forming on your tubers (the potatoes)
It is time to harvest when the foliage has died back on your plants. Dig up your potatoes with a fork or dig deep at a 45″ angle with the intention of lifting the tubers from below rather than slicing through them. Rub off any ground and leave them to dry for several hours. After this, they are able to be stored in paper or hessian sacks.
Rich in Vitamin K (which is good for bones) and iron, spinach is considered something of a wonder veg which is relatively easy to grow.
Spinach really needs a well manured soil rich in organic matter which will therefore retain moisture well.
If your soil is acidic, add lime to increase alkalinity, and add a general fertiliser a couple of weeks before sowing.
Sow winter spinach July-September direct into the place it is to grow. Sow thinly to a depth of 2cm (1in) in rows 30cm (12in) apart. As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle thin to 7.5cm (3in) – these can be used as baby leaves for salads.
Spinach will take advantage of regular watering, especially during dry weather. Weeding help prevent fungal diseases like downy mildew and will improve breathing around the plants. Give a high nitrogen liquid feed once the plants are established.
Winter spinach can be harvested as a baby leaf at 5cm (2in), as a cut-and-come vegetable at 10cm (4in), or as a whole plant October-January. Depending on how severe the winter is, you may need to cover your plants with a cloche or fleece.