The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Tomato harvest

potatoesI have been bewailing my fate on the comments section of our first tomato blight post . I can’t find organic remedies for tomato blight or sterilising the greenhouse (soil and general environment) or the soil in the kitchen garden.

If we have a cold winter with a decent length of hard frosts, the soil in the kitchen garden should be OK as the spores are killed by prolonged frosty weather (But how long is prolonged?). Then peter m gave us the link to a great site with organic treatments for vegetables. I can’t wait to try them on our patch.

Potatoes and tomatoes are members of the same family and are susceptible to the similar diseases. We lost all our potato plants this year to blight, the trug of potatoes in the photo is the harvest from 60 plants.

Danny inspected the trug and retired to The Rat Room in silence. Potatoes in Ireland are floury. So floury pots are Champagne to an Irishman, living abroad. I have discovered that if I leave our spuds in the ground for an extra month or so I can dig up floury potatoes. In Ireland pots are planted in March and lifted July/August. Over here it’s generally April planting, lifted in July. For a couple of years I have been The Golden Girl. Sadly no longer.

We still have toms on the go. Not the usual massive rows of fructulent crops. But about ten plants still hanging on.

Number 2 on D’s list of scrummy veg are tomatoes. Guzzled straight from the plant on a warm sunny evening. We have a few ripening with an embargo.
“Don’t even think about touching our tomatoes. We need sun and red ones to encourage the others.”

After the fright of the potato plants, D has clearly not even dared to look at the toms. I, on the other hand have examined them so closely that I am considering a career shift from decorator to botanist. I am removing blighty leaves every evening but not treating the tomatoes which are on a sunny south west facing wall.

We ate the first small handful of tomatoes harvested from our own plants this evening. Small explosions of flavour and so precious after losing so many plants to blight.

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  1. Hi,great to hear all your stories on growing tip and traumas, sorry about that,getting some great ideas for next year though,thanks!
    I’ve never been suscessful growing peppers, of any kind, don’t know why, there’s my thinking I was at last begininng to get green fingers! Ha, I’ve a lot to learn!
    I shall try again though,we did get some good pots and toms even after all the gales, fantastic beetroot,salad stuff,tiny carrots, poor red onions (they’ve hardly got much bigger since they were planted….Ggrrrr).
    Purple sprouting broccoli is coming along to harvest next year ohh and sprouts if the slugs don’t feast on them 1st!
    Thanks to all for your time, contributions, trials and bumper crops in the future.
    Forgot, has anyone tried these mushroom growing packs that are available? seems a bit of a cheat but I don’t mind cheating(in the best possible way) if it means lots of fresh mushrooms.Ha,lol. Thanks Odelle X

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Christine,

    It’s great that you saved your potatoes. I didn’t have the courage and dug them all up when we got blight.

    I used the poor mans version of ring culture. Just cut off the base of some pots and pressed them into the grow bags. The water reservoir in the ring culture makes sense. No splashing up from the soil in the grow bags. I recycled our plastic bottles and used then as reservoirs, cutting off the bases and inverting them in the grow bags. They have worked well particularly this month when we have had sunny afternoons.

    The sheep must have been a disaster. What a shame losing 12 rows of runner beans. We have just a twelve foot row. It hasn’t thrived this year.

    Well done with your squash! Great to have a decent haul.

    Thanks for dropping by and sharing your 2007 veg growing experience.

  3. Christine Marsden

    We cut the top off all the potato plants as soon as they showed signs of blight and we seem to have saved the lot!
    The tomatoes were all grown using ring culture and were tucked up close to the walls of the cottage both on the south and the west side and none of them were affected by blight(thank goodness)
    Sheep got in to the 3 patches while we were away & ate ALL the 12 rows of broad beans which would have been ready(I hope they got indigestion)
    The real success have been my squash!!
    18Lb, 16Lb, 14Lb…… we will have a different diet this winter!
    Christine & John Marsden

  4. Fiona Nevile

    I love those small tender pumpkins, Kate, delicious with butter and lots of freshly milled black pepper.

  5. Thanks Fiona- no chance of the pumpkins plumping I fear- I ate them.Very delicious they were too.Perhaps next year I’ll have one large enough to use as a lantern.

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi hedgewizard,

    Sorry to here about your cherry toms. It’s interesting that your friend lost all her pots – even the blight resistant varieties.

    Lets hope that we have a really long cols snap this winter that kills all the spores.

    Hi Pat,

    Lucky you with no blight!

    We have used the bottle reservoirs this year and that’s probably why we have not lost everything to blight (tomato wise). I think that I got the tip from America too.

    Hi Celia,

    It’s such a shame about your outdoor toms as I think the outdoor ones taste so much better than ones grown under glass.

    I love pink fir apple potatoes.

    Glad your runner beans are good. Ours are not a patch on last year and some have got rust.

    Hi Kate(uk,)

    Congratulations winning first prize at the village show, against all the odds!

    Hope the pumpkins plump up a bit before Halloween.

  7. Oh dear! Makes me wonder just how many potatoes I will get from my old compost bags, but the foliage looks good so I’m full of hope.The baby plum tomatoes in the greenhouse are still holding on, every day I’m picking leaves off too,so they are very bald but for the trusses and I am managing to get my favourite summer breakfast of warm tomato on the sunny days ( rare!)- they won a first prize in the village show- mainly as all the serious allotment growers lost ALL their tomatos.I’ve got two aubergines coming- pretty awful as I have 12 plants….but the peppers are going great guns all of a sudden.Squashes still feeble- I have two hilariously small pumpkins, supposed to be a smallish variety, but tennis ball size is pushing the limit of creative jack o’lantern making!

  8. Only our greenhouse tomatoes have survived this year – all the outdoor ones suddenly went brown and yucky with blight, not picking many as they need more sun and warmth! Not a brilliant year for potatoes either – but earlies not too bad. Would usually have Pink Fir Apples still to lift but had to lift then as quick as possible before I lost them.
    But it’s a great year for runner beans!

  9. Oh Fiona, Hope we have a better year next year. I am already looking ahead to next year and what I can plant here. Thanks for the website as I didn’t realize I could use just plain soap on the plants. I know you can when you get scale on plants. I am needing to wash my bay trees again. A bit of scale is getting on them. One tip I have for tomatoes. I put mine in grow bags along with the top 3/4 of a plastic bottle. Take the bottle like a pop bottle and cut off the bottom and insert the top into the grow bag next to your plant. Then you can pour the water into that down to the roots. That way the water doesn’t splash the soil onto the leaves. I didn’t get tomato blight this year. An old gardener in the US gave me that tip.

  10. hedgewizard

    I’ve lost my blight cherry this year too, and a friend who grows potatoes commercially has said that *nothing* escaped the blight in her place – not even the latest blight-resistant varieties. Just remember that 100 years ago this would have been a famine year.

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