The Cottage Smallholder


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Tomato Blight

tomato blight on stems and leavesWe have blight. When we were rushing out yesterday evening I spotted it on three tomato plants. Large blackish brownish splodges and a generally wilty look. It is unmistakeable. We had it five years ago and it devastated our tomato crop within days.

At the time we were creating a website for an expert on plant diseases. The fee was to be paid in whisky. Danny must have negotiated this deal.

The expert arrived with a rather good bottle of Isla whisky under his arm. He was immediately shepherded out to examine the tomatoes.
“Its blight. Just like potato blight. They’re the same family.”

It was hard to discuss his website. We were mourning the loss of a summer plucking sun warmed fruit from the plant and a long winter savouring our intense tomato sauce base. A good harvest makes enough sauce to last us through the winter until June.

We lost our entire crop that year. Now I grow tomatoes in at least two places. The blight has affected the plants at the front on a sunny south west facing wall. Usually the warmth of the wall nurtures the plants but warm and extended wet weather conditions are perfect for the development of tomato blight. I have hoiked out the plants and am hoping the blight spores will not have spread onto the other 12 plants. The blight affected the weakest plants, the others all look strong and healthy. If the wet weather continues for much longer I am afraid that they all will succumb.

The remaining plants could be treated with Bordeaux Mixture which was developed in France to treat fungal disease in vines. A lot of people spray their potatoes with this potion to protect against blight. It is a copper and lime mixture that is not environmentally friendly, so I am loathe to use it on our tomato plants.


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150 Comments

  1. Alexandra Moore

    I have tomatoes growing in growbags outside. Growing well….lots of fruits growing & starting to ripen(although a bit late). just last weekend noticed Blight!! I cut off effected fruits & plants. Lost most of my plants. Tomatoes now ripening indoors. Is it ok to eat non-blighted tomatoes even though they were on the same plants?

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hello Alexandra

      As the toms ripen you will quickly see if they are affected by blight too. I have chopped out the black parts and eaten the rest in the past and survived to tell the tale!

  2. hi everyone lee here, just started growing tomato’s this year..built my self a double glazed heated greenhouse..used the best seeds and compost and also the best tomato feed(seeweed and tomatorite) I have lovingly doted over these 15 plants and they were so healthy. Beautiful large green tomato’s with just a few turning..noticed brown/black splodges on all plants 2 days ago, thanks to this site i now realise i have lost all….feel like taking a sledge hammer to the greenhouse…absolutely gutted….regards lee

  3. Hello, Sarah, and welcome to the site.
    In order to enable a wide variety of gardeners to lend the weight of their experience, I opened a new thread on the forum. Click here
    I hope you get the answers you need!

  4. Hi everyone, Im sarah and im growing beef tomatoes for the first time, Im wondering what is blight? And how do i prune it properly Please, Id be grateful for any help,The tomato plant looks very bushy.

  5. Hi All,
    I have a small allotment plot – 5 rods – but big enough for me to get to grips with.
    We have just had a notice in that tomatoe and potatoe blight has been spotted in the RG2 area ( Hampshire )so reading through these comments has been very helpful and interesting. I’m trying to keep as organic as I can and would like to use an enviornmentally friendly treatment rather than a chemical one?
    Many thanks,

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Tina

      Up until a couple of years ago Bordeaux mixture was used to treat blight organically.

      Horsetail tea is recommented for biodynamic gardeners and that is what I’m planning to use this year. Check it out here http://www.biodynamic.org.uk/fileadmin/pdf/Equisetum_Guidelines_Oct_2009.pdf

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sue Line

    What bad luck. Don’t give up.

    Hope that you have better luck next year.

    Hello Jem

    You need to apply the remedy immediately that you see the blight. You can apply Bordeaux mixture as a preventative rather than a cure. I did this with some plants this year and it stopped the blight developing so quickly.

    Hi Erika

    Great idea. I’m going to try washing the greenhouse with it this year and sterilising the soil. Thanks.

  7. Erika on september 17th 2009

    If you buy a tin of jeys fluid its on the back how to use. my father-in-law used it every year that he had a garden and at the end of every season he used it and its supposed to increase the yield from pants to. I am waiting to see if its works will let you know Erika

  8. So what is this about Jeyes fluid. How much and when. Please advise.

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