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Tomato Blight returns with a vengeance

tomato blight signsPerhaps it was because I kept tomato blight in check last year, that I felt confident about coping with blight this summer. It did take some time – examining the plants morning and evening, removing the iffy leaves at he first sign of blight. We did have some sunny days too and these keep the condition at bay. I thought that I’d cracked dealing with blight without spraying.

This year I was working away from home when it struck. I was regularly getting back after dark and so I did not see the signs. Rushing off early one the morning, I noticed the wilting leaves so I removed them that evening by torchlight. But it was too late. Within a couple of days the vines were black and the most of the tomatoes had those tell tale signs of puckered brown that quickly develop into black blighted fruit.

I bewailed my fate to Maurice at the butchers. He has a large quarter acre allotment.
“You have to spray before it strikes at the point when you think that it might happen. Those sultry evenings in July can be lethal if it’s rainy. You need to be prepared.”
I hadn’t thought of spraying to avert the possibility of disaster. Diluted Bordeaux mixture still qualifies as an organic spray. Next year I’m going to give this a go if we have a long wet summer like this year.

Twelve plants and most of their bounty were lost but I do have a small investment at the bottom of the garden. Nine sturdy plants in the greenhouse and two languishing outside, beside the greenhouse door.

As I watered the two languishers this morning, I spotted the brownish stems, which are an indication of early blight. Although I was late for work I quickly harvested the fruit and threw the plants into the garden incinerator.

I’m hoping that the Indian summer that we’ve been promised will ripen the fruit on the jungle of seven greenhouse plants.

Hopefully there will be no jungles next summer. I plan to grow cordons, as I do each Spring. When I forget to nip out the side shoots, I can’t bear to remove the vigorous growth. This makes for bushy plants that cannot cope with prolonged damp, warm conditions in which tomato blight thrives.

The remaining luxuriant tomato plants have reached the ridge of our greenhouse. Perhaps it might be wise to thin the leaves and give the fruit the best possible to ripen.


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8 Comments

  1. Such a familiar story … we’ve had blight outdoors, and not much to pick indoors. What varieties were you growing? I’m definitely going to chose disease-resistant varieties next year, although it won’t guarantee a blight-free crop. I recently posted Sarah Raven’s recommendations for tomato seed, and she mentioned one which kept going after the others were blighted. You’re a marvel to consider spraying, I’m far too idle

    Joanna

  2. samantha winter

    I don’t have blight but I do have 6 foot high tomato plants with very little red fruit.
    I thinned out the greenery and tipped the plants but they are more interested in growing than fruiting.

    I did succesfully use a sulphur candle in the spring but I was late with it. I already had seedlings on the go and everything was being eaten so I emptied the greenhouse did the burning tin thing and put everything back.

    My friend has wonderful tomatoes, she has a new greenhouse (they are a posh 2 greenhouse family). This has meant that all her plants are much more spread out. Also (and we all laughed at her when she did it, but look whose laughing now) she stripped the plants of most of their greenery and I mean stripped, as soon as the flowers got going. I may try this next year.

  3. The Organic Viking

    I didn’t know that diluted bordeux mixture still counted as organic – thanks for the tip. I have had some success/luck with an organic spray involving baking soda and castile soap. In general though, blight sucks. Better luck for us all next year, I hope.

  4. Oh no! That is awful. I didnt bother with tomatoes this year. I have awful luck with them, both growing them inside and out. Makes you start to think that you need to sit in the green house at all times. Monitoring the heat and humidity…

  5. Sorry to hear about your Tomatoes having blight again this year.

  6. Diane Epps

    I know just how you feel I too have suffered the dreaded blight and it struck both the tomatoes in the glass house and those outside. I have purchased a sulphur candle which I am going to use in the glass house to sterilise it and then I am going to water well with Jeyes fluid and give the whole thing a really good clean and hope that next year I might be luckier….

  7. How sad to lose your tomatoes after weeks of nurturing the plants. It shows that sometimes less is more.

  8. Lucy @ Smallest Smallholding

    Everywhere in the blogosphere I’ve been reading accounts of tomato blight. It seems that hardly anybody has got away with a blight-free crop this year.

    Some of mine have fallen prey, others are OK but took an absolute age to ripen. I have a jumgle this year too – the greenhouse has been completely overrun, and let’s face it, this is probably why the blight has struck with a vengeance.

    I don’t really think what we’ve had over the past few months has qualified as ‘summer’!

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