Brown Heart

Question ...

The heart of my swedes have a hole with brown 'veins', most is still edible. I started them in modules and then planted them after I'd harvested my potatoes. Do you know what has caused this and how can I prevent it happening again?

Answer ...

Your Swedes are suffering from a nutrient deficiency of boron, which causes as condition commonly known as brown heart, and particularly affects the brassica family. You can take a number of preventative steps to stop this happening again:

Both potatoes and swedes are nutrient hungry crops. Follow a crop rotation plan and plant your swede where roots, such as carrots grew the previous year. See our advice on crop rotation.

Excess liming increases the pH of soil and prevents the take up of some nutrients. Check your pH levels before liming and keep the pH at between 5.5 and 7 for swedes.

If you have a light or dry soil, add plenty of organic matter to prevent nutrients leaching and to maintain moisture levels. It is far better to prevent this problem from happening by managing your soil correctly.

If you would like further advice on your organic growing, why not become a member of Garden Organic? It costs as little as £2.75 a month, and not only gives you full access to our advisory service, but also free or discounted entrance to many gardens across the UK. Call 02476 308210 or email