We have never had much trouble with storing winter squash before, except when some left in an unheated garage froze during a particularly harsh spell, which ruined them rather quickly. This year, though, we have found the stems afflicted with grey mould. When harvesting the squash, it is critical to leave a certain amount of stem intact, as this area is most susceptible to rots. The appearance of grey mould on the stems is, therefore, rather worrying. It appears that many recommend the use of a dilute solution of bleach to wipe over the squash before storing, but I have never fancied the idea, nor previously found it necessary.
Grey mould, caused by Botrytis cinerea, has struck both the glasshouse and polytunnel tomato crops. Spores of this fungal disease are generally present in the environment and typically infect dead or dying plant material. In theory, grey mould could cause problems at any time of year, but in order to develop significantly, a certain amount of moisture is necessary along with cool temperatures. Under cool and humid conditions, though, the spread can be very rapid indeed, resulting in extensive damage to both plant and fruit. The high levels of humidity brought on by the recent rains along with cooler autumn conditions have allowed grey mould to develop amongst the tomato vines, so action was taken to rescue as much as possible of the remaining crop. This is a bit of a shame, as we are probably still several weeks away from the first frost, and are forecast a few more days of good sunny weather. Continue reading