Back in June 2008 all was not well on our allotment site.
It started with a report of strange curly, fern like leaves on the tomato plants in the polytunnel of one plot holder.
|Tomatoes- fern like growth|
|Potatoes - fern like growth and leathery cupped leaves|
We soon realised that all of the effected plots had bought manure from the same source and so suspected that the manure was the problem. I then started scouring the Internet for any information or confirmation of our suspicions. I eventually came across a post from the RHS asking for anyone who thought they had problems caused by manure to get in touch. I did and our case confirmed the RHS suspicions as we were the first to contact them having several 'gardens' displaying the same symptoms after obtaining manure from the same source. We had extensive 'conversations' with the RHS and it appeared that our problem was linked to use of a hormonal weedkiller containing aminopyralid - ForeFront. This was being used contrary to the way stipulated meaning that the contamination was getting into manure supplied to us gardeners.
|Runner beans -Leaves thick and leathery with pronounced veins which tend to run parallel. Leaves cupped like a spoon.|
|Peas - cupped leaves|
|Runner beans - stunted growth, new growth fern-like, leathery cupped leaves,with prominent parallel veining|
|Broad beans - cupped leaves|
|Broad beans - cupped folded leaves , few flowers setting|
Then last week I received this email which I reproduce with Ann's permission:
I can imagine that by now you must have had more than enough of this issue, but as you were so amazingly helpful in 2011, I thought I'd at least let you know that we've been hit by this horrible poison yet again.
This time it has affected our community growing project: Edible Mach. We are part of the greater Incredible Edible Network and as part of our work this year we have created a Show Allotment in the heart of our town; Machynlleth. All went well until a couple of weeks ago when I spotted a familiar distortion of the growth on the broad beans. My heart sank as I realised it was Aminopyralid again. We bought in 8 tonnes of peat free compost and that is what we traced it back to. This compost gets made in part by what is put in the green waste stream, so it is probably Clopyralid, rather than it's evil big sister; Amino.
I'm hoping it will not get too bad, but worse case scenario would be that all our growing sites will be affected (12 of them, all over the town), as all had a top dressing of this compost. We are now gearing up for the fight with the supplier, who we paid £800 for this compost and who is trying hard to deny any responsibility. Would you be able to tell me if Trading Standards are any use in this kind of scenario?
We're hoping to give a lot of publicity to the issue once again, as we will have an official opening of the allotment with the press there and hopefully Incredible Edible will help too. There have been other incidences around the area as well this spring and for our market garden, this is the third time we've been hit in 6 years, despite all the precautions we now take, so clearly this problem is not going away. Maybe we need another pin in the map?
All the best and your allotment is looking amazing!
It's bad enough when it affects us home growers but for Ann this is the second time her business has been hit.
It is at this time of year when cases of contamination are spotted and if it affects a gardener in isolation it is easy to blame something else for the aberrations. This year you could easily blame the weather. If you do suspect that you have used contaminated materials, make a fuss and go back to your supplier.
If you want to learn more my section on manure contamination is on my website here but be warned some of it is just transcripts of conversations and not for the faint-hearted. There are plenty more photos though too.
I have since found out that clopyralid is an ingredient in Lawn Clear, Weedol Lawn Weedkiller and Green Up Lawn Feed and Weed. (There may be more).
Also there are other hormone type weedlillers including 2,4-D, mecoprop-P, MCPA and dicamba which may have the same problem. Make sure that you read lables on weedkillers carefully.