We must plant next year’s tubers earlier

Now is the time to get to grips with your strawberry bed.

BRIAN KIDD: Strawberry fields forever – but renew them every three years

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The potatoes are being dug now and I have never had such a poor crop. This is due to the dry weather in the spring followed by the wettest summer ever.

On top of this, despite regularly spraying the leaves and stems with Bordeaux mixture, along came the dreaded infestation of potato blight.

The result is a poor crop with tiny potatoes because they didn’t have time to swell.

I have made a solid resolution to plant next year’s crop in early March. I’d advise you to plant the tubers about 6in deep so that the plants grow early and they can be dug out before the dreaded blight arrives next July.

I can hear you say that I kept on warning of blight and to spray with Bordeaux mixture, but you will know the Bordeaux was washed off in the rain.

You can’t win, can you? Well, as I have mentioned I am going to plant next year’s tubers much earlier and what will happen? Snow, pouring rain and the slugs will attack!

At the allotments many plot holders have been sent ‘dirty plot letters’ by the council. This has resulted in a flurry of activity.

Several plot holders have decided to give up, but that’s good news for people on the city waiting list, I understand there are over 400 names on it.

Are councils providing more space for allotments? No, instead they are filling every crevice with housing and I’m wondering if this is because it will bring in more money in council tax?

Some good news – my raspberries called Autumn Bliss are growing well and there are dozens of bees pollinating the flowers.

They have been drenched with liquid tomato fertiliser so that the berries will be huge in a fortnight’s time.

In the garden at home, the dahlias are magnificent and every day we remove all the dead flowers and buds which are deformed because they won’t bloom.

Side shoots are also being removed so that there is a beautiful flower at the top of each stem.

The rudbeckia, phlox, Peruvian lilies and the Japanese lilies look wonderful and the bees, butterflies and hover flies are having a great time.

You would never believe this – my water butts, which hold over 600 gallons of water, are almost half empty.

It’s surprising how quickly the soil dries out and needs wetting. Having said that, I expect it’s pouring with rain as you read this?