Friday, 24 April 2009

WAITATI EDIBLE GARDENS column

WAITATI EDIBLE GARDENS

By Lucy Jack

The last Harvest Market has taken place and was a mellow success.
Thank you to all who contributed this year especially Rayna Dickson
and Jan Littleton for doing the organizing/hard work and we look
forward to seeing more markets next year. We are bedding down for the
winter now but if any of you have event that you would like to see -
talks or workshops, movie nights or working bees over the winter
months, please contact me on 4821773 or at
waitati.edible.gardeners@gmail.com and I will try to bring them into
fruition.

Anthropologist Michela Carrington is conducting an anthropological
study on the impact of the WEGgie group on the Waitati community. If
you are interested in the project and would like to be interviewed,
please contact me and I will put you in touch.

ASK AUNT LUCY

Dear Aunt Lucy,

Our potatoes have really bad blight this year...what to do? Regards,

Waitati Heights.

Dear Waitati Heights,

Blight may come early or late and results in dark blotches on the
leaves followed by death, destruction and rapid decay to a
foul-smelling mush caused by the infestation of secondary soft
bacterial rots. Early blight is caused by the fungal pathogen
Alternaria solani and late blight is caused by a water mould
Phytophthora infestans.  Both spread rapidly in warm wet conditions
and the latter is more serious (as the Irish found out in 1845), even
rotting seemingly healthy tubers in store. "One of the good things
about late blight" says local hero Jason Ross "is that it usually
happens right when the plants are dying off anyway, so you can just go
ahead and harvest them and not worry too much about it". The prudent
will meticulously dig out all those wee marble sized tatties you
usually leave behind which act as reservoirs and infect next year's
crops.

All other organic solutions are prophylactic. Reduce plant stress as
happy plants are less susceptible to disease: well drained soil and
good balanced compost will fix that. Limit disease transmission: don't
plant all members of the same plant family in the same garden area
(potato relatives:
eggplant, pepper and tomato will die of exposure anyway) and rotate
crops annually. Identify disease early and remove infected plants, and
if you had blight this year, don't use the tubers as next years seed
crop.

Note that Potato Blight is not to be confused with Potato Rust which
is also a fungal infection but doesn't seem to occur down here
(apparently currently most problematic in Pakistan). Potato rust just
makes the leaves 'rusty'.

Speaking of rust, potatoes can be used to make metal things un-rusty:
Cut open a potato. Dip the exposed portion into a mild abrasive e.g.
baking soda, toothpaste or salt. Lightly wet the rusted area. Firmly
rub the potato
over the rusted area until the rust is removed. Repeat if necessary.

Aunt Lucy

XXX


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