Growing healthy fruit plants
If your plants can get off to a good start, half the battle of growing good crops is won. Always buy seeds from reputable nurseries, to ensure that they have been subjected to rigorous testing and selection, and are therefore free of seed-borne diseases and pest damage. If you are buying plants, inspect them first if possible, and reject any obviously weak, leggy, damaged, diseased or pest-ridden specimens. There are certification schemes for some fruit—always buy fruit inspected according to these schemes. Much vegetable seed is of F1 hybrids and, although expensive, it pays to buy these because they have hybrid vigour and grow into bigger, better plants. You will also find that some seed has been bred for resistance to diseases.
Another way of ensuring first-class plants right from the beginning is to get yourinto good condition first. This will usually mean that you have to improve the structure by mixing in humus in the form of bulky when digging in winter, and also by adding plant foods just before sowing or planting, using powder or granular fertilizers. Remember, too, that the various vegetables and fruits may have different nutrient requirements and may need varying amounts of food.
It goes without saying that the site should be completely free of, especially perennial ones and any with deep or spreading roots. No crop can ever be strong if it has to compete with weeds in a dirty, infested plot.
Keep your garden free from. Viruses are easily carried by sap-sucking insects from ornamentals to food plants, and many pests and diseases will be found on weeds, which is another reason to keep the plot clean.
General garden hygiene should also include the removal of any rubbish such as rotting weeds not put on theheap, heaps of pots and boxes, stones, bricks, tins and wire netting. All of these can be hiding places for pests, and there may also be diseases present.
Care of crops should always ensure that they are adequately fed and watered, that ground is kept clear of weeds and the remains of crops, and no checks occur which could weaken them. Watch the weather vigilantly for the same reason, and choose your times carefully for the various cultivations.
Using clean water
A frequent source of contamination by pests and diseases is the water given to crops, particularly in the greenhouse. In the greenhouse too, it can encourage the spread of algae over the ground, on the surface of compost, and even on the structure itself. The usual cause of the trouble is the collection of rainwater from roofs and its subsequent storage in open tanks or butts. In this case the common belief that rainwater is ‘good’ for plants is erroneous. It should be realized that a roof becomes contaminated with all manner of weed seeds, various pest and disease organisms, and also the spores of algae and mosses. Further contamination will occur when dead leaves and plant debris are washed into containers from gutters. It is extremely foolish to use dirty rainwater toin a greenhouse, which are being grown in carefully sterilized compost. Tomatoes and , for instance, are frequently infected with stem rots and other troubles by being given dirty water.