A word or warning! It seems that the 'Alium leaf miner' is now present on most of the cities allotment sites. This pest was only first reported n the UK in 2002 but since then has spread rapidy and now seems to be everywhere. This time of the year are when it's effects are worst, especially on your overwintering alliums. If you spot it, it's proabably best to harvest your leeks and onions straight away, otherwise you risk losing the whole crop to rot.
"Fiona has alerted us to the fact that the Allium leaf miner is present on our site (Moulsecoomb Estate). She first spotted damage to her leeks on Sunday and we have since found that our leeks are affected too. I’m attaching one of her photos. As the name indicates, the pest attacks every member of the Allium family – leeks, onion, chives, shallot and garlic – and cause serious damage.
The adult fly lays her eggs in the leaves and the maggots tunnel into the crop and you will see lines of white spots on leaves, maggots themselves or brown pupae in the stems and bulbs. The initial damage is done by the maggots, but secondary fungal and bacterial infections set in and cause very bad rotting.
So inspect your crops now. You can eat the undamaged parts but don’t try to store the crop or leave it in the ground – you will probably lose the entire crop due to rot. And if some of the pupae drop into the soil, you won’t be able to grow alliums in that patch of ground next year.
Glyphosate / RoundUp
In the summer we were contacted by a plot holders who was upset that their neighbour had sprayed their entire plot with Glyphosate (RoundUp) and that the wind had blown it across onto her plot thereby killing some of her plants. It is of course not right that this should be used on a windy day as it may affect your neighbours, but should it be being used on our allotments anyway?
At the moment Glyphosate is allowed to be used on the cities allotment sites, but as you probably know, there have been a lot of worrying stories appearing in the press about how safe it actually is. In 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the World Health Organization's cancer agency, concluded that it was "probably carcinogenic to humans". However the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Monsanto who manufacture it continue to insist that glyphosate is safe when used carefully.
BHAF are here to represent plot holders views, so we'd like to know what you think about the issue.
Here is some coverage in the media you might want to read.
Councillors in Brighton and Hove are also worried about the use of Glyphosate. At a Brighton and Hove City Council meeting on the 24th March 2016 the Council voted unanimously to
1. Request the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee to request officers to use the opportunity of the end of the current weed spraying contract in April 2017 to end the use of Glyphosate in our city; and
2. To request that the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee gives consideration to trying non-chemical and mechanical alternatives during the testing period due to start in July this year...
However, despite wanting it's use banned by the Council on the streets and in the cities parks and gardens. no mention was made regarding it's use on allotment sites.
Recently Simon Powell who is the BHAF's ecology officer asked the allotment office if we should also consider a ban on using glyphosate on allotment sites, and to ban it's sale in the cities allotment shops. The Council suggested polling plot holders to find out their thoughts on the subject. So this is what we are now doing!
If you are interested please take part in this survey, so we can gauge plot holders opinions regarding the use of Glyphosate.
Introduction to Mulches
A nice little video about mulches from Garden Organic
Viper's Bugloss : A Treasure Trove to Share
Angela Jane Swinn uploaded a page about Viper's Bugloss to our website, including a little video clip of a small elephant hawk moth feeding on the viper's bugloss on her plot.
Plot holders are most welcome to upload pages to our website. Just go to our site, and go to 'add you story' It's really easy to do!