Page 15 - ALG Issue 1 2022
P. 15

                                 garden doctor
  QI wonder if Aaron Hickman can advise on this 24-year-old pear tree. It is normally very productive, but this
year it has a lot less fruit than normal. All the fruit is healthy. The leaves seem to have some sort of disease. What is it and is it affecting the fruit production? Thanks Celia - Albemarle Allotment Association
AIt would seem to be an attack of Fabraea leaf spot, sometimes referred to as black spot or leaf blight; however, the fruits can also be affected. This disease is caused by the fungus Fabraea maculata and is most often seen later in the growing season. It is important to clear away and destroy all leaves from the tree as they fall, as they can carry the spores of the fungus from one season to the next, spreading by wind and rain in the spring. Cleanliness really is key, but it may also be worth looking out for a fungicide spray that is suitable for edible plants to try and curb the infection in the years to come. Keep a sharp eye out next year for any early signs of the fungus and either remove the leaves by hand and destroy or treat at once with the fungicide.
QWe have a plotholder who has been working her plot for over 30 years. She was wondering what the best way
is to let the plot recover – take a holiday,
so to speak. There is a lot of information on the internet, but I was wondering what your view on it would be. Thanks in advance.
George Ewing
recover after many years of intensive cultivation, and indeed a ‘fallow’ plot was often included in a lot of vegetable rotation schemes for this purpose. WW2 saw every piece of land as precious
for cultivation however, and this was dropped and has never really been re-introduced. If we are conscientious of how we cultivate and what we give back to the land, then there is often little need for long periods of rest on plots, but there are several ways in which a piece of ground can be ‘rested’, whether one undertakes dig or no dig methods. The first is to decide on a size and section
of the plot that is allocated to be fallow, and this can then be moved around the plot over the years, until once every section has been covered, it can return to the first section once again.
Sowing green manures are great
ways of covering areas of bare land, helping to suppress annual weeds whilst helping to return some nutrients, especially nitrogen, to the soil. They also help with soil structure and sometimes even pest control with some of the flowering types encouraging beneficial insects onto the plot. Green manures are available for both growing through the summer or winter months and are generally dug into the soil at a mature stage in their development. Grazing ryes, field peas and beans, clovers and phacelia are all good examples.
Another good way of managing a fallow plot is simply to keep adding a layer of very well rotted organic matter. If the plot is known to be particularly weedy, a layer of wet cardboard over the soil
to begin with is often advisable to help suppress these, then well rotted garden compost, leaf-mould or similar can
be added to the surface in a nice thick layer. This can be added to if needed
Do you have a problem?
If you have a garden question, then get in touch and our specialist will respond and offer you advice.
 It certainly is a very good idea to
consider allowing plots to rest and
     Sowing green manures are great ways of covering areas of bare land
throughout the growing season. At the beginning of the next season, if the plot is run as ‘no-dig’, then this can then just be planted up or sown down as usual, or if the plot is cultivated, then this can be dug in.
The last method, which is probably the easiest, but which gives nothing back to the soil, is to simply cover it over with a membrane; this stops weeds from growing whilst the soil rests.
A mixture of the above methods may also suit better, and some experiments may be required to find what works best for you, but it is certainly admirable to know that people are aware that soil
is a living entity and should be looked after and managed well to ensure many years of happy and healthy cropping.
Allotment and Leisure Gardener 15

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