The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Fighting the dreaded blight

Photo: Greenhouse green tomatoes

Photo: Greenhouse green tomatoes

It’s that tomato blight time of year again. I put on my strongest spectacles and carefully examine all my tomato plants morning and evening. This can take some time as we are growing over forty plants in the green house and various corners of the garden. If ignored the blight will spread rapidly, given the right conditions.

But if you have time on your hands and are diligent it is possible to keep blight at bay if it’s discovered in the early stages.

The greenhouse plants have suffered more than the outdoor ones this year. Mainly my fault as the planned cordons raced away to become bushes and created a superb rainforest environment. The peppers, chillies and cucumbers are loving it. But the tomatoes are struggling.

The greenhouse is well ventilated and I’m keeping the door open all the time at the moment to increase the circulation of air. But each morning the tomato plants are dripping wet with condensation.

I cut off any infected leaves and fruits and burn them. This does give the plants a bit more air and a better chance of not succumbing to the dreaded tomato blight. I managed to keep blight at bay the summer before last using this method on outdoor toms but it’s very laborious. This morning I spent an hour in the greenhouse battling the blight and filled the dustbin burner with iffy leaves.

Until last year Bordeaux Mixture was considered a good organic solution for tomato blight, I am wondering whether to go down this route. For potatoes it is used as a preventative and as a treatment for tomatoes.

Editing the photo above I spotted some blighty foliage in another part of the photo so I’m off down the garden in my pyjamas to snip it off the offending leaf.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi KarenO

    Hope that the chutney tastes great!

    Hi Allotment blogger

    Blight seems to be a real problem on allotments in the UK. Our outdoor toms (in our garden) are doing much better than our greenhouse ones. I think that I need to grow less in the greenhouse next year and just stick to one row of pots.

  2. Allotment blogger

    We’ve been ruthless and only grown tomatoes in the greenhouse this year. So far we’ve avoided the blight but the allotment tomatoes have been wiped out by it. It’s tragic. Not even enough green tomatoes to make chutney from the plot, but we’ve got loads of lovely greenhouse tomatoes to make up for the loss of our outdoor crop.

  3. Thank you Fiona – I tried the green tomato filling last year and it was very popular with guests. I have taken note of Joanna’s comment and will try some chutney. I like green tomato chutney and it’s years since I made it so am looking forward to it. Yes I was pretty gutted. I knew it was in the pipeline as the summer became wetter and each morning the dew dripped from the tomato leaves, but was able to keep on top of it last year so had hopes for this year but you can’t afford to turn your back can you? Never mind there’s always next year!

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi KarenO

    What a shame, you must be gutted.

    We do have a great recipe for a sweet green tomato filling for tarts and pies – given to us by
    Rozanne Hall

    Perhaps if the blight strikes here, I might invent a green chutney recipe!

    Hi LouLou

    I’m always a bit overenthusiastic about how much I can pack in too!

    Hi Kate (uk)

    Thanks for that advice. I think that I wait a couple of days too before making chutney.

    Hi Joanna

    That’s good news.

    Hello Toffeeapple

    Bordeaux Mixture has been taken off the organically approved list rather than being withdrawn completely.

    It’s a palaver but the only way to keep on top of blight without resorting to chemicals. As the leaves are removed there are less to remove!

  5. Toffeeapple

    Has Bordeaux Mixture been banned too? I thought it was still used on vines and therefore still available for other things? Oh dear, what a lot of work, I hope you are feeling up to it and not making yourself more unwell?

  6. I turned blighted tomatoes into chutney and they were fine. Of course I chopped the brown bits out and got them cooked down pretty quickly.

  7. Hi Kate (uk) Thanks for that. I thought if I cut off all the brown bits first, once it was cooked cooked it would be OK?

    I’m glad you came in on today’s because I left you a message under 16th Nov 2007 posting on homemade butter and wasn’t sure if you’d get it. Hope you pick this up as I’d be interested in your reply.

  8. kate (uk)

    Karen- DON”T chutney your tomatoes if they come from blighted plants, they might look fine today, but in a few days they go scabby and rot if the blight has got into them and there is no way of telling if it has unless you leave them to ripen.You really don’t want to spend time and money on chutney for it to rot…
    My outdoor tomatoes got the first small signs on Saturday, so out they came on Sunday, picked all the tomatoes, hope I caught them before they reached the rotting in a couple of days after picking stage!
    I’ve been very diligent about removing lower leaves on the greenhouse tomatoes to improve ripening and air circulation, also about removing side shoots and tops for the same reason- the first time I have managed to keep up with it- the plants look better than they usually do at this time of year. That’s just asking for them to get blight too isn’t it?

  9. I have the same problem – overenthusiastic planting of courgettes and pumpkins right next to the tomato cordons …. some of th pumpkins have literally starting climbing up the tomato plants and yesterday whilst chopping back some of the cheeky tendrils I spotted the dreaded black splotches on some of the lower stems. Have cut all those affected off and then like a total idiot have chucked them in the compost – so have to rush back tonight and drag them out – my only excuse is that this is my first year of allotment gardening!!!

  10. I had been diligent as you describe but having been away for 6 days to look after father in law I’ve come back to full blight in my polytunnel!! I came on here today to see if there was a recipe for green tomato chutney. I couldn’t find one but I have found lots online though. I’m about to go out now and strip the plants. Like you I had a jungle but my mistake was putting squashes and courgettes in with the tomatoes, aubergines etc and the soil was heavily manured with chicken and cow manure in autumn so I have created the tropics in there – a courgette jungle! The courgettes and squashes are waste high! Not much fruit yet though. Never mind I’ll know for next year. I was reading (I think in a comment on 1 of your old posts) that gardening is 9 months hard work and 3 months disappointment lol.

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