How to beat tomato blight: last year was one of the worst years on all our sites

Thanks to plot holder Fiona Heath for putting together this useful guide on tomato blight.

Last year was one of the worst for tomato blight on all our sites. It’s a disease caused by an airborne fungus-like organism that spreads rapidly in the foliage and fruit of tomatoes in wet weather. Its spores can stay in the soil for up to 4 years.

Symptoms of blight:-

  • Leaves shrivel and turn brown.
  • Brown lesions appear on the stem.
  • Brown patches appear on green and red fruit, more mature fruit will decay rapidly.
  • The whole of an infected plant must be removed from site; roots, stem and fallen tomatoes. Do not compost or dig into the soil.

There is no cure, but prevention is the best control measure:-

  • Rotate your crops.  Don’t plant in the same spot as last year’s tomatoes or potatoes.
  • Give your plants some space. Plants should be at least 24 inches apart to allow adequate air circulation among leaves to keep them dry.
  • Water the soil around your plants.  Avoid overhead watering.
  • Mulch around the base.  Fungus can spread up from the soil.  Remove lower leaves.
  • Try using disease resistant varieties.

Hopefully, if we’re vigilant, we can prevent the spread of blight and have a bountiful crop of tomatoes.

A message from the Committee

Dear fellow plot holders.
These are unsettling times and Coronavirus is changing the way we live, work and socialise.
We are incredibly lucky in that we have our allotments where we can enjoy a safe and healthy environment, stay active and have a degree of social interaction.
We do have some vulnerable plot holders who are desperate to keep coming up to their plots, so please be respectful of keeping a safe distance from each other.
It is advisable to wear gloves when opening the padlocks/gates or using any communal wheelbarrows and also to hand sanitise if possible.   The water will be turned on W/C 23rd March so hand washing will be possible from next week.
The Shed at Hertford Avenue will remain open for the time being. We have a contactless card machine so please try this to save handling money.
The growing season is just about to start, so please enjoy our allotments safely and with consideration for each other.
The BHAS Committee.

At plot 38 Hertford with … Helen Lawrence

Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For October, we have been chatting to Helen Lawrence who is at plot 38 at the Hertford allotment site. Helen recently joined the committee as joint Secretary. 

1. How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?
This winter it will be four years – time flies!
2. What jobs have you been doing on the allotment this month?
Massive autumn cutting back and tidying up, then carting bags of non-compostable stuff to the tip. This is the time of year when a thick pair of gloves is necessary against spikes and thorns – the roses over the archway were absolutely magnificent but pruning them and cutting back the blackberries are two of the prickliest and trouser destroying jobs. I’m also in the process of moving my compost heap and filling in the old leaky pond in readiness for a new one.
3. What crop has done well this year?
Although I realise many plots have suffered badly from blight, I have been very lucky with my tomatoes this year, They were planted a couple of beds back from the main path and by chance protected on three sides by my shed and some tall plants, including corn on the cob. Last year I lost my whole crop to blight, so this year bought some blight resistant plants – not quite as tasty as my favourite Gardeners Delight but they cropped well.
4. What are you planning to grow next season?
Heavens, difficult question – I try to rotate crops in a 3-year cycle but this year have probably grown too many potatoes and tomatoes, so will possibly plant a greater variety of brassicas and spinach, including New Zealand spinach which cropped extremely well for me last year. I had a successful and delicious crop of purple climbing beans, called Blauhilde, so will certainly grow them again next year, along with French beans, and will once again attempt mangetout, though have not had much success so far. Also, the blackcurrants, autumn raspberries and rhubarb continue to flourish! However, having had a disastrous crop of leeks this year, which ended up misshapen due to being attacked by tiny grubs, I shall probably avoid them next year.
5. What’s your favourite recipe to make with your harvest?
Like most of us, I’ve had a bumper crop of courgettes, both green and yellow – when they overnight double in size, they are delicious stuffed, either purely vegetarian or, for meat eaters, with added strips of bacon. Have also frozen blocks of tomatoes cooked into a purée with onions and herbs for pasta sauces over the winter.
6. In addition to gardening of course, do you have any other hobbies or skills?
I enjoy long distance walking and on dark winter evenings am happy sewing tapestries, which eventually become cushions.

Review: Fungi talk from Pam Islip (Priory)

In October fellow plot holder and amateur mycologist Pam Islip gave us a talk on fungi at All Saints Church in East Sheen. It was well attended and enjoyed by all. Halina Kessler (committee Events Organiser) has written a few words about the talk.

“Over thirty people came out on a chilly Autumn evening to hear Pam Islip’s great talk about Fungi. Pam is a knowledgeable amateur mycologist and she brought with her a vast array of fungi foraged that very morning from Surrey.  There were excellent examples on display of everything from poisonous fungi to the very edible. Pam explained their role as agents of decay in our compost bins and also as the symbiotic promoter of growth offered by mycorrhizal fungi to our roses and other plants. There is much to learn about fungi and how they can benefit our allotments.

There was also a lot of discussion about foraging and Pam reminded us of the expression: ‘All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once…’ (Terry Pratchett). Some of us might now think twice before rashly frying up our finds!

If anyone has any suggestions for talks or presentations we could put on for our members, please do let us know hello@thefoldline.com”

At plot 76 Priory with … John Hynd

Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For September, we have been chatting to John Hynd who is at plot 76 at the Priory allotment site. John won both Plot of the Year and Best Show Person of the Year at The Annual Show this year. With his wife Monica, they were best borough newcomers in 2001, 2002 – borough 3rd place, 2003 – borough 2nd place, 2004 – ditto, 2005 – Borough Champions.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

1. Monica and I acquired our allotment in late 1999. We started clearing it in October of that year. At that time we had a choice of 8 derelict plots on the Priory site to chose from. It took Monica and I and another member of our family about a year to the time when we felt that we could start planting. We also, in 2002 or thereabouts took on the plot next to us. Monica and I had two plots that were side by side up until 2008, when we gave up the second plot. So we have been on our original plot for 20 years.

What jobs have you been doing on the allotment this month?

2. At this time of the year for us it is mainly clearing plots of this year’s plants & crops. Harvesting the late potatoes and what is left of the autumn raspberries. Also this year tomato blight has been rather bad, so trying to dispose of the diseased tomato plants has been more difficult, because there is a ban on burning anything, and so everything has to be bagged up and disposed of, which is quite difficult because the authorities have not thought about providing a facility for disposing of diseased plant material safely.

What crop has done well this year?

3. On our plot (outside:) corn, brassicas, runner beans, beetroot (although some did bolt early because of dry weather) In the greenhouse everything did exceptionally well – peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and aubergines. Aubergines grown outside have been very slow (not harvested yet) likewise the butternut squashes, but now they are coming along very nicely. The Dahlias have been fantastic and most of the other flowers have done very well (soft fruits weren’t as good as they could have been).

What are you planning to grow next season?

4. More of the same, with the addition of strawberries, which we have grown before but decided to dig the strawberry bed up grow another variety of potato.

What’s your favourite recipe to make with your harvest?

5. We pickle and make chutneys. Also we freeze as much as we can and give away produce to our family and friends and other allotmenteers. Making piccalilli is my favourite.

In addition to gardening of course, do you have any other hobbies or skills?

I make Jewellery, a bit of silversmithing. Occasionally static steam engines (working models).

Annual Show 2019

The Annual Show was a great success this year. We had lots of impressive entries into the vegetable, fruit, flower and baking categories. We also enjoyed a delicious BBQ with homemade salads and Victoria sponge cakes along with a plant sale, children’s activities and a raffle. Take a look at all the winners below and a selection photos from the day.

ANNUAL SHOW CATEGORY WINNERS

BHAS SOCIETY AWARDS

  • Plot of the Year – John Hynd
  • Best Newcomer’s Plot – Dino Franz
  • Show Person of the Year (for most points scored in show) – John Hynd
  • Best in Baking categories (person with most points) – Natasa Bojkovic

VEGETABLES

  1. Aubergines – 1st J. Hynd
  2. Peppers – 1st J. Hynd
  3. Chili peppers – 1st Harriet Graham / 2nd Kennedy
  4. Beetroot – 1st Goodwin / 2nd J. Hynd / 3rd Kennedy
  5. French Beans – 1st J. Bostock / 2nd Warman / 3rd Diane McLellan
  6. Runner Bean – 1st Kennedy / 2nd Ronnie Bendall / 3rd Goodwin
  7. Carrot – 1st Rashid / 2nd J. Hynd
  8. Courgette – 1st Kennedy S.A.
  9. Cucumber – 1st Rashid / 2nd John + Carol
  10. Garlic – 1st John + Carol / 2nd J. Hynd
  11. Marrow – 1st Rahul
  12. Onions – 1st J. Hynd / 2nd Goodwin / 3rd Harriet Graham
  13. Shallots – 1st J. Hynd / 2nd Goodwin / 3rd Rashid
  14. Potato – 1st Kennedy / 2nd Harriet Graham/ 3rd Rashid
  15. Pumpkin / Squash – 1st Kennedy / 2nd J. Padgett / 3rd Diane Black
  16. Sweetcorn – N/A
  17. Beef tomato – 1st Rashid / 2nd Deborah Genders
  18. Cherry tomato – 1st Pam Islip / 2nd J. Bostock / 3rd Rashid
  19. Medium tomato – 1st Pam Islip / 2nd G. Checketts / 3rd Rashid
  20. Mixed vegetables – 1st Flo Goodwin / 2nd J. Hynd / 3rd Miles Goodwin
  21. Any vegetable – 1st Natasa Bojkovic / 2nd Garry Hazel / 3rd Pam Islip
  22. Biggest vegetable – 1st James Duncan / 2nd J. Padgett
  23. Herbs in a jam jar – 1st Harriet Graham / 2nd Pam Islip / 3rd Ronnie Bendall

FRUIT

  1. Apples – 1st Diane Black / 2nd Warman / 3rd Janet Lavender
  2. Top fruit (pears, plums, quinces, etc.) – 1st Ronnie Bendall / 2nd Warman / 3rd Derek Lawrence-Brown
  3. Soft fruit – 1st G. Checketts / 2nd Janet Lavender
  4. Blackberries – N/A
  5. Any other fruit – 1st Garry + Hazel

FLOWERS

  1. Mixed flowers in a vase – 1st Harriet Graham / 2nd Rashid / 3rd J. Hynd
  2. A single variety of flowers in vase – 1st J. Hynd / 2nd Ronnie Bendall
  3. Dahlias – 1st J. Hynd / 2nd Rashid
  4. Sunflower – N/A

CHILDREN

33a. Aged up to 10 years. Create an original art piece inspired by the allotments.

1st Florence Goodwin

33b. Aged 11 – 18 years. Create an original art piece inspired by the allotments.

2nd Pandora + Adelaide Kennedy

34a. Aged up to 10 years. Mini garden on a seed tray – create your own miniature garden.

2nd Miles + Oliver Goodwin

34b. Aged 11 – 18 years. Mini garden on a seed tray – create your own miniature garden.

1st Adelaide Kennedy / 2nd Pandora Kennedy

35a. Aged up to 10 years. Vegetable monster/pet – decorate and create using vegetables, fruit and/or herbs.

1st Miles Goodwin

35b. Aged 11 – 18 years. Vegetable monster/pet – decorate and create using vegetables, fruit and/or herbs.

1st Adelaide Kennedy / 2nd Pandora Kennedy

THE GREAT ALLOTMENT BAKE-OFF

Jam and Preserves

  1. Jar stone fruit jam – Natasa Bojkovic
  2. Jar soft fruit jam – Diane Black
  3. Jar marmalade – N/A
  4. Jar lemon curd – Natasa Bojkovic
  5. Jar chutney – Diane McLellan

Baking

  1. 3 fruit scones – Janet Bostock
  2. 5 pieces of any flavour tray bake – Sue Oyler
  3. 1 loaf handmade white bread – Janet Bostock
  4. Victoria Sandwich Cake – Sue Oyler
  5. 1 Vegetable Cake – Diane Black

Children

Age categories:

  1. Under 6 years, decorate 4 cupcakes – Aleks Bojkovic
  2. 7 to 10 years, decorate 4 cupcakes – George Bojkovic
  3. 11 to 18 years, bake and decorate a cake of your choice, any size – Pandora Kennedy

Make us laugh

49. ‘Make us laugh’ category for the funniest or weirdest shaped Vegetable or Fruit

1st Ben (Priory) / 2nd Miles Goodwin

TALK: Fun with fungi

OPEN TO ALL

Amateur mycologist Pam Islip will give a fascinating talk on the fungi you can find out and about in our local area.

WHEN: 7.30pm 15th October 2019
WHERE: All Saints Church, 63 East Sheen Ave, SW14 8AX.

At plot 73 with… Nadia

Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For August, we have been chatting to Nadia Mackenzie who is at plot 73 at the Priory allotment site.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

About 2 years.

What jobs have you been doing on the allotment this month?

Watering madly and weeding. Picking soft fruit for jam, runner beans and spuds. Propping up tomatoes planted too densely.

What crop has done well this year?

Blackberries so far!

What are you planning to grow next season?

Haven’t planned yet but love beetroot – make chutneys.

What’s your favourite recipe to make with your harvest?

Plan to do jams and lots of chutneys again, preserved figs, pureed fruits to freeze.

In addition to gardening of course, do you have any other hobbies or skills?

Photography and cooking.

At plot 15 with … Paul Edelin

Each month we are getting to know our allotment neighbours a bit better. For July, we have been chatting to Paul Edelin who is at plot 15 at the Palewell Park allotment site.

How long have you had an allotment in East Sheen?

We’ve had our plot at Palewell Park since 1984.

What jobs have you been doing on the allotment this month?

In July we have been planting leeks and broccoli, picking soft fruit including loganberries, tayberries and also sweet peas, french beans, hunter beans, beetroot, aubergines and courgettes. We’ve also been digging a few potatoes, watering everything as far as possible, feeding tomatoes and extricating bindweed along with other weeds.

What crop has done well this year?

Our squash (Crown Prince) and blackberries (Fantasia) appear promising.

What are you planning to grow next season?

More vegetables and soft fruits.

What’s your favourite recipe to make with your harvest?

Plain cooked beetroot and also courgette cake.

In addition to gardening of course, do you have any other hobbies or skills?

Doing never ending odd jobs – house and garden maintenance!