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. Erika on september 17th 2009

    We have had the blight 2 years on the trot so I tried an old remedy of jeys fluid to steralise the soil, I now have 2 tomato plant growing they look nice and healthy don’t know if anything will happen again but will wait and see and let you all know

  2. Oh dear

    I have it too, planted too close and others on the allotment have it too never seen it before so didnt know what was happening. I guess all plants will need to be burnt rather than applying a remedy as its been a week scince i saw it ?

  3. Sue Line

    New tomato grower:
    Sewed loads of seeds as surely many will die: They all grew.
    Planted them all out as surely many will die:
    They all grew.
    Forgot to pinch out:
    They all grew furiously.
    Planted close together:
    They all grew furiously.
    Turned my back for 5 minutes – BLIGHT.
    Have read your correpondence and now realise that I managed to do everything wrong: Too close together, watered with spray, planted with spuds.
    C’est la vie 🙂
    Suggest take up needlework!

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Fiona

    How maddening to lose your Alicante plants. Fingers crossed the toms in the conservatory will be ok.

    Thanks for the tip on steam cleaning the greenhouse. I have a steam wallpaper stripper and will give that a go!

  5. I too have just destroyed my Alicante tomato plants due to blight but only the outdoor ones seem affected (so far!) fingers crossed that the cherry and beefsteak ones in the conservatory will survive. I had a thought about sterilising greenhouses… I think steam cleaning it would work. If you don’t have a steam cleaner, a steam wallpaper stripper would do the trick but might take a bit longer. Hope this helps x

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Simon

    What a shame. Poor you.

    Thanks for the link.

  7. http://www.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/profile.aspx?PID=217

    please try the attached link for the RHS I’m not a member but it helped put our problems into order.

    40 tomatoes all ruined second year in a row

    cheers Simon

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Vanessa

    If you grow tomatoes in a greenhouse you need to keep the greenhouse very well ventilated as condensation can encourage the development of blight – especially if the plants are close to each other. Growing cordons can alleviate the problem.

    Hi Angie

    Thanks for that.

    Hello Melissa

    How disappointing and what bad luck.

    Every morning I check for any blighty leaves on both my greenhouse toms and my outdoor plants. Over the past week or so I’ve found a few and have immediately removed them, hoping to keep blight at bay.

    We lost our entire crop when I didn’t have time to do this last year.

    Hello Margaret

    It’s such a shame when this happens. At least you got ten jars of green tomato chutney!

    Hi Kate

    Fingers crossed that you’ve scotched the blight. Thanks for the advice.

  9. kate (uk)

    Spotted signs of blight on my outdoor tomatoes and removed the fruit before it took hold, plants now destroyed.Now I know what to look for I hope I have caught it before the fruits are affected…fingers crossed.
    Vanessa- keep your greenhouse well ventilated and everything should be fine, tomato blight is only for tomatoes as far as I know.Anything that won’t mind being outside will probably be fine to be outside at this time of year.

  10. margaret

    Exactly the same problem. Lost all tomato plants on my allotment 10 days ago, unable to rescue any fruit. Yesterday lost three plants grown at home, but have ten jars of delicious green tomato chutney from them. Used Delia’s recipe found on the web.

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