Friday, 24 April 2009

WEGGIES - WAITATI EDIBLE GARDENERS

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. We look forward
to seeing more markets next year.

Michela Carrington is conducting an anthropological study on the
WEGgie group's impact 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.

We are bedding down for the winter now but if any of you have an event
you would like to see take place - talks or workshops, movie nights or
working bees - over the winter months please contact me and I will try
to bring them into fruition.

Tel: 4821773
Email: waitati.edible.gardeners@gmail.com

POTATO BLIGHT

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. It ends up as 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 year's seed
crop.

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 most
problematic in Pakistan currently). Potato rust just makes the leaves
'rusty'.

Potatoes themselves can be used to remove rust from metal. Cut open a
potato and 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.

Lucy XXX

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