Keeping pests and diseases at bay

How can I prevent pests and diseases from attacking my vegetables?

They cannot be prevented completely, but healthy plants, grown in a good environment, are less likely to be attacked and will recover faster. Concentrate on making the soil fertile, ensuring that plants have adequate moisture and are not overcrowded, that they are hardened off well before planting out, and that they are not forced unduly. Garden hygiene is also very important: keep beds and paths clean, put lids on water tanks and tubs, and remove weeds, rotting debris, and any other rubbish, as these are likely to harbour pests and diseases, especially in winter. Burn any diseased material promptly.

Is it true that certain vegetable varieties are resistant to pests and diseases?

Plant breeders are constantly developing varieties with some resistance to specific pests and diseases. A disease may then develop new strains which overcome the resistance, so that more new varieties have to be bred! Several cucumber varieties have resistance to mildew, gummosis, and fusarium; some tomatoes have resistance to cladosporium, tomato mosaic virus, and fusarium; some new lettuces have resistance to certain strains of downy mildew. A number of potato varieties have considerable resistance to eelworm, and these are invaluable if your soil is infested with eelworm; the potato ‘Stormont Enterprise’ has some slug resistance. Consult current seed catalogues for up-to-date information on resistant varieties.