Monday, November 24

Leeks under threat.

We actually managed a plot visit this week and came back with a vegetable harvest that certainly 'spoke of' winter.


New to our harvests were leeks and parsnips. We rarely grow pretty parsnips as out soil is not conducive to growing long smoothly tapered roots but as they still provided us with tasty vegetables we are happy.

Leeks are also a winter staple but a flying army of invaders threatens our future crops. Allium leaf miner was first spotted in the southern parts UK in 2002 and since then has been making its way northwards. One of my visitors Frugal in Derbyshire has reported that their leeks are now affected in - you've guessed it - Derbyshire. This means that the problem is moving ever nearer to us. I'd be interested to hear of anyone else being affected, This pest affects all members of the allium family - leeks, onions, garlic and chives.

As far as leeks are concerned all we can do to protect the plants is to cover them with fleece or enviromesh. We already have to net fruit and brassicas and grow carrots under mesh. We've taken peach, nectarine and apricot trees into the greenhouse to try and avoid peach leaf curl. We no longer grow tomatoes outside because of blight. Year by year more and more crops need to be grown under cover as more and more pests and diseases cause problems.

I wonder how long it will be before we need to cover everything? 

23 comments:

  1. Hi Sue, No sign or mention of Allium leaf miner in my neck of the woods as yet. I too stopped growing tomatoes outside a couple of years ago due to blight. No sign of it on the ones grown in my garden greenhouse but got some this year inside the poly tunnel. Plenty of carrot fly for the past 3 years, although this year not so. Flea beetle infestations seem to be more prolific as well.

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    1. We get more pests and diseases on the plot than in the garden, Rooko, I think the large number of favoured plants attracts them in, When we were surrounded by vacant weed ridden plots we never had blight

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  2. I feel like that with the crops sometimes. I cover my brassicas (cabbage worm), carrots (carrot fly), and onions (onion fly) right now. And sometimes my cucumbers (cucumber beetle) and zucchini (squash vine borer) for the beginning of the season. Oh and my spinach and chard (leaf miners). At least the corn doesn't need to be covered. Well some people get ear worms in them, but so far I've been lucky. There are too many pests.

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    1. There are Daphne, vegetable patches are war zones!

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  3. Oh - the need to cover everything - that's a scary thought. Just covering the odd veg is such a pain, especially when it comes to weeding. Like Daphne, I already cover the brassicas & some of the summer squash. Next year I'm adding a covering to our allium beds as well, but around here it's because of onion maggots.

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    1. Are they from the leek moth, Margaret as that is another ting that we have to watch out for,

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    2. Onion maggots are the onion fly's offspring...pesky buggers.

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  4. Oh dear everyone is so pessimistic about needing to cover. Whatever did we do without fleece and environmesh!
    Please Sue if you get the leaf minor don't send it over here. PS I never really thanked you for that pestilent weed, toadflax you gave me, but I am truly grateful.
    Leeks really are my Winter staple and are almost completely pest free. I never see rust which is a curse to North Eastern leek exhibitors- leaf minor will not please them if it gets up to Newcastle!

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    1. I guess it was a case of spray, spray, spray, Roger. As I replied to Rooko pests are more prevalent on the plot where lots of people are growing similar things in close proximity. We get rust and chocolate spot sometime but the leeks are still useable.

      The clivia has two flower spikes so look out as it may star in next week's Wordless Wednesday, Have you ever grown a clivia from seed as I've seen seeds for different colours,

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  5. I've just had a salutary lesson. I uncovered the brassicas last month thinking that we'd seen the end of cabbage whites. No. I lost the sprouts almost overnight. There are still some I could harvest but with the whole plant turned black under caterpillar dung appetising they are not!

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    1. I've heard a few people saying they have had late caterpillars this year, Jessica, Our brassica problem is whitefly. We definitely need to grow in a biome.

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  6. I think in answer to your question, it will not be long at all before we have to grow MOST things under cover. Perhaps pests are more resistant to pesticides than they used to be? I have to say though that Enviromesh worked really well for me this year on my carrots.

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    1. One problem, Mark is that many products that were available to amateur growers in the past are now no longer on the market. Also new pests and diseases are being introduced from elsewhere and some don't have natural predators in this country. A downside to importing food.

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  7. Some of our leeks had pale little caterpillar type things in them, about a centimetre long, and the affected leeks had to be pretty much thrown away. I've had a look at Google images and it might be allium leaf miner. I shan't be happy if they get into the onions and garlic.

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    1. Have you looked up leek moth too CJ, From what I have read autumn onions are less likely to be attacked by allium miner due to it avoiding lots of the egg laying periods etc I'd be interested to know whether anyone had found this to be true.

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    2. Yes, just Googled it, I think it's definitely leek moths. Thanks for the tip. There's something for every vegetable (and fruit) isn't there!

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  8. You still have great harvest, Sue! So nice

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  9. That harvest definitely has a winter theme. I'm saving my parsnips to have with Christmas dinner, I have so few that I doubt I'll have enough for any more dinners beyond that. There's so many pests about, something for every type of fruit and veg, it's a wonder we manage to grow anything for ourselves to eat.

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    1. It is amazing, Jo but we persist don't we?

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  10. Sometimes I wonder if I should invest in a cover for my veg plot, but then mine is small enough to do that! I hope you remain unaffected for as long as possible.

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    1. So do I, Jo What would you do have a large polytunnel? Them no doubt some things would be too hot if it was closed up and if left open the bugs etc would still get in, It would need climate control installing :)

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