52 Week Salad Challenge earlier in the year, it was safe in the knowledge we were starting at the most difficult time for growing salad leaves and that things would get much easier as the year progressed.
Then came the drought that was March and early sowings failed to thrive. That was followed by the record deluge of April, May and June, which is still making itself felt from time to time. So it's a super bad year for slugs and snails, who've feasted and gorged themselves on my lettuces until I had nothing left but tiny stumps. Later sowings are now thriving - after a number of torchlight searches and removals of offending critters - thank goodness.
After a slow start owing to the unseasonally cool weather we've had for most of the year, other pests and diseases are now beginning to make themselves felt. Flea beetles are adding their characteristic tiny holes to my rocket; cabbage white butterflies are laying eggs on my mustards and as for vine weevil, I've found some adults cheekily crawling around the old Belfast sinks I'm using in my shiny new salad area.
So what's to be done? I'm ignoring the flea beetle as they don't spoil the taste of the rocket leaves. One of the beauties of growing in pots is they can be lifted to eye level and butterfly eggs easily found and removed. The adult vine weevils have been squished with a satisfying crunch and as you can see I've invested in some nematodes so their offspring don't gain a hold in my pots.
Luckily I haven't suffered the ravages of pigeons, rabbits or aphids and as I'm growing mainly outdoors I haven't seen much in the way of glasshouse whitefly or red spider mite. I was worried my earlier indoor growings would suffer from sciarid fly (aka fungus gnats), but happily they didn't appear.
Ant nests are decimating some of my pots, though they haven't discovered the ones containing my salad leaves. This is probably because these pots aren't left alone for long, unlike their flower filled cousins.
Disease wise, I haven't seen much in the way of mildew yet, although it's ravaging through my Sedums. I think this is because I'm picking my salads like Charles Dowding showed me back in February. This allows for greater air flow around the leaves and I'm also picking when fairly young - probably before mildew can grab hold of the leaves.
I've had a bit of tip burn on my lollo bionda lettuces, but I picked the leaves off before I realised what I had and could photograph it ready to show you. Naturally the new leaves are in glowing health, so we'll have to wait and see if it develops again . It's thought to be due to a Calcium deficiency, though I've seen a recent research paper which seems to dispute this.
How are your salads faring? What pesky pests or dread diseases are you seeing this year? NB the links in this post will take you through to advice pages for each pest and disease mentioned, in case you need to find out more.
Update: we had a very interesting #saladchat on Twitter yesterday about differences in slug damage on red and green lettuce, thanks to a Comment left by Annemieke recently. This is worth a post in its own right, so watch this space...
It's also that time of the month for you to add your Salad Days posts to Mr Linky below. New contributors are always welcome :)