We’ve just had a lovely penetrating shower of rain this morning that I was really thankful for, we have had very little rain here on the island over the past month and when we lift the potatoes from the field they come up clean as a whistle with not a bit of soil attached to them. The weather seems to vary quite a lot all over the country and I wonder how you have fared this year. It was 10.30 pm last Thursday evening that I had a text from John Soulsby to say that he had just experienced the worst storm of his life with hail stones as big, if not bigger, than Golf balls with his wife having kept a couple in the freezer. The effects were devastating with almost half the glass on his 50ft glass house broken to bits as well as a plastic roof on the dogs kennels completely stripped off. He also had his Caulis and Cabbages mutilated with perfect round bullet like holes right through them, bear in mind the date – 1st of July!
I was nearly caught out once more this year with the devastating Willow Aphid affecting three of my long carrots growing in the large grey pipes outside that are completely open to the elements. thankfully I have my short carrots beds now covered over completely with Enviromesh with the longest bed having over 450 different types of short carrots in it.
I had an email with a picture attached from Jim McCartney who also has it on some of his carrots. I sprayed mine with Hallmark which is a commercial product but seems to have stopped them in their tracks. The willow-carrot aphid host alternates from willows to umbel lifers which could be wild parsley or even wild parsnip to name just a few. The preferred primary hosts are crack willow and white willow, although some Willow species seem only to be colonized in spring, by winged forms from populations which have overwintered parthenogenetically (it means reproduction without fertilization)
Preferred secondary hosts are cultivated umbellifers such as carrots and fennel. It also affects parsnips, parsley and celery. The viruses transmitted are very worrying as the fly spits in to the centre of the young emerging growth which then turns brown to black before the whole plant dies off eventually. The Viruses are – Carrot motley dwarf virus, Parsnip yellow fleck virus, Carrot red leaf virus, Parsnip mosaic virus and Celery mosaic virus. All that’s enough to put you off growing altogether! If you have signs of this in your carrot bed, it’s best to pull them straight out and bin them, they will not grow out of it.
I had an email from David Metcalfe this morning and it would appear that he is on course to have another good season with both his leeks and his onions. In Davids own words ‘
‘Leeks are doing well after a slow start, up to 8ins girth on p.imp. but Llanberis are lagging behind at 7 1/2 ins. Onions are growing like giants, I can only think there was some residual fertiliser from last year’s caullies. Necks and leaves as thick as my arm and up to 23ins girth so far with 2-3 wks. growing left in them.[fingers crossed]’ He certainly knows his onions does David.
Incidentally, David is once again giving an update talk on how he grows these magnificent specimens at my Annual Masterclass Weekend held on November 6th till the 8 at the usual venue – The Royal Victoria Hotel Llanberis Gwynedd. There are seven speakers in total and if you think you might be interested in attending please let me have your full postal address and I will forward you a programme of events in the next few weeks.