Thursday, August 25, 2011
More thoughts on tomato blight
Re: tomato blight. I had beautiful plants until the weekend of the 15th of July. A number of unusually violent storms went through the area that weekend and I was away on a camping trip. When I got back, lots of leaves had already been affected well up the vines (I removed as many leaves as possible but it was clearly too late even after only being gone 5 days). Fortunately, I had planted early so I had lots of fruit that set on the vines (I've harvested well over 125 tomatoes from my little plot and I've still got more to harvest). I think that it was really the nature of the storm that sprayed blight up onto the plants. I had mulched right from the start and heavily throughout the summer. I only watered right at the base of the plants. The only thing I think I might have done differently was to remove the lowest leaves from the plant right from the start and maybe give the plants a bit more space for air to circulate better. I had eight varieties of tomatoes purchased from Whitewater Gardens and Bronks and they were all affected. My Bronks plants faired much better, but I bought them big (they were in gallon pots, were large and vigorous plants and were already flowering). I think buying larger plants actually helped me and the yield I got. They ended up being much bigger, much healthier (despite the blight), and had much more fruit. The only other recommendation I'd make is to make sure that everyone knows about crop rotation (even with the small plots). I also wonder if we could solarize the soil to kill the blight. Recommendations can be made to keep tomatoes in containers to let them grow big while the soil is cooking (usually six weeks). Those of us who pull plants early should maybe also solarize in the fall??? Sanitation practices could also be covered, perhaps (keeping tools and gloves clean, putting affected leaves in the black compost bins, not gardening in wet plants, etc.). Just some thoughts... I hope they help in some way.