Tuesday 7 July 2015

Good news and bad

Lots of the veggies in my garden are doing well, but one of them is under threat. Let's deal with the good news first...

My first cucumber is nearing pickable size. It's one of the "Mini Munch" ones. I have perched it on a stone to stop it touching the damp soil, which might cause it to rot.

Having been convinced by a spell of hot weather that Summer really is here, many of the Chillis are now setting fruit. This is the "Indian Chilli Bullet". Hopefully before long it will have a whole cluster of bullet-shaped fruits.

The Runner Beans are racing away, and the plants are producing loads of the bright red flowers so evocative of Summer in England; you see them in all the allotments and kitchen gardens.

OK, so you can see there is plenty of good news, but now the bad news. I have another case of weedkiller-contaminated compost.

For some time now I have been aware that the upper leaves of several of my tomato plants have been curled inwards. This sometimes happens if we get cold nights after hot days, but we haven't had any cold nights recently. Now I can see that some of the plants have contorted leaves and their growing tips are producing the fern-like growth just like the ones last year had. One plant is particularly badly affected. Ironically it is one of the blight-resistant ones, "Primavera".

This plant has already produced five trusses, four of which have set fruit, so I may get away with it, because I would be "stopping" the plant soon anyway (i.e. pinching-out the growing-tip to persuade the plant to put its energy into fruit-production.)

The other plants are either not visibly affected, or less severely affected. So far, the situation is a lot less dire than it was this time last year. In some of the plants, some significant changes of leaf-shape have occurred. Here's an example. This is a "normal" leaf, low down on a "Ferline" plant. It has quite a smooth surface and the edges are rounded, with few indentations.

Higher up on the same plant, the leaves look like this - much more pointed, with indentations and serrated edges, and their surfaces are knobbly.

Last year, lots of the tomato fruits were distorted into very strange shapes. Will things be any different this time, I wonder? This fruit truss on "Orkado" looks OK so far, doesn't it?

With a bit of luck this lovely flower on "Chocolate Stripes" will go on to produce an equally lovely fruit!

The growing-medium I used for my tomato plants is a mix of "Jack's Magic" multi-purpose compost from Westland, and composted stable manure from The Compost Centre in Woking. I suspect that the contamination is in the Westland compost. The reason I say this is because The Compost Centre supplies the RHS gardens at Wisley, and I think they of all customers would notice if the product was contaminated! Significantly, my potatoes have been grown in the composted stable manure, and they have suffered no ill effects at all. The tomato plants, on the other hand, were germinated and grown-on in small pots of the Jack's Magic before being planted-out into the big self-watering containers in which they are growing now.

I described this problem on my blog last year, so you might like to re-read what I said...



Further information on the contaminated compost issue can be found on Sue Garrett's blog, here:-



  1. I'm picking my first cucumber tomorrow for a salad & hopefully a red onion too as my spring ones are still too small. We use Jacks magic too in all of our pots, it's an awful shame your plants are affected again by the contamination. I've just checked & all mine seem fine fingers crossed.

  2. The only compost I have bought in is a pallet of spent mushroom compost, I gave up with other composts a few years ago after nothing but problems and poor results

  3. That is so sad. It's hard to believe that that problem with compost persists. I hope that the tomatoes that set turn out to be good.

  4. Wow! That is a whole new level of wrong. Pesticides have become such an ugly monster. I'm sorry you have to deal with this. At least there's a lot of bright side in your garden too. My cucumbers and jalepenos are right about the same as yours. Can't wait for the harvest!

  5. The problem is traceability as in compost or manure it can be that only patches are affected. Have you contacted anyone about it? I haven't forgotten about adding you to my list but I seem ti have been short of time.

  6. Outrageous. The regulatory agencies in the UK must be a lot like those in the states - rubberstamps for the chemical industries. This family of herbicides should never have been approved, they decompose very slowly and enter the food chain and persist. It's the mentality that any agricultural problem can be solved with the application of chemicals, when in fact only more problems are created.

  7. I'm with gardenvariety-hoosier, it is really terrible that the system allows something that is so persistent. At least it seems confined to just some of your tomatoes.

  8. Oh no, Mark! I couldn't believe it when I got halfway through your post - I third hoosier & Daphne's comment. It's just shameful that supposedly progressive governments run by "intelligent" people would allow this to happen.

  9. That is really disappointing. I was hoping you would not have a repeat. It is strange that only part of a plant is affected, I don't understand that.

  10. That is really disappointing. I was hoping you would not have a repeat. It is strange that only part of a plant is affected, I don't understand that.


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