Jun 5th, 2010
It’s about this time of year that I start to fuss and worry about blight on my Tomatoes. I’ve never really been able to relax since The Year the Tomatoes Died. So I thought I would re-publish this little article that I wrote last year for the Guardian Gardening blog. I will be doing all of this again this year, come rain or shine :)
When I first starting vegetable gardening in 2005 growing Tomatoes was a doddle, a breeze. Just bung in the plants, water them a bit, feed them a bit and ta-da! right on que at the end of August you’d be eating your own home-grown tommies.
Not anymore. Over the last few years, our summers have been, well, disappointing. And if we’re deluged in rain again this year it means one thing; that growing outdoor Tomatoes in the UK will be more of a battle with wind and rain in an effort to avoid the dreaded…gulp… blight.
As most will know, Tomato blight is a nasty disease that starts with small brown patches on stalks and leaves but soon progresses to the fruits.
If I had a greenhouse I’d take my Tomatoes under cover. But since I don’t have that option (and frankly the thought of ‘not’ growing Tomatoes makes me feel a little nauseous) then there’s only one thing for it – to fight.
Here’s my plan.
- Grow (or buy) vigorous, healthy plants.
- Don’t plant Tomatoes in the same spot as last year.
- Plant disease-resistant varieties (Ferline, for example)
- Remove the bottom leaves up to the first truss of fruits to avoid splash back
- Remove and destroy all plant waste after the growing season
- Avoid watering on to the leaves. Water directly to the roots and don’t handle plants when the vines are wet.
- Control weeds in and around the plants. Weeds serve as hosts for insects and disease.
- Control pests (particularly aphids) which may transmit disease from plant to plant.
- Remove plants as soon as the tell-tale brown patches are seen. Wash hands and tools with a detergent after handling affected plants.
- Choose a sunny location and provide a removable rain cover if possible.
- Pray (or at least ask the rain gods to take pity on me).
So there you have it my 10 – err 11 point plan. If anyone has any more suggestions then please post them in the comments. When fighting Mother Nature you need all the weapons you can get.
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