help prevent tomato blight

5 Things I’ll Be Doing Differently in 2015

5 things I'll be doing differently

One thing I’ve learned since taking on my first allotment is that no year is ever the same. We’re always trying different methods, or experimenting with new varieties.

Then there’s the weather and the pests. There are so many variables and you can never be sure what will happen.

This also makes every year a learning curve, however, experienced you may be. Having grown veg in my garden rather than an allotment for the second season running, here are 5 things I’ll be doing differently next year.

Don’t Plant Toms So Close Together
This year, my outdoor tomatoes fell victim to the dreaded blight. Tomato blight was widespread this summer but I can’t help feel that I could have done more to prevent the disease, especially where my planting plan was concerned.

For starters, I planted the seedlings far too close together. I put six in next to each other, in a space roughly 5ft by 2ft. Doubled with the fact I didn’t cut back foliage to let the fruit ripen, there wasn’t much room for air circulation.

Don’t Grow So Many Tomatoes
Of course, if I didn’t grow so many tomato plants, I wouldn’t have felt so compelled to plant loads. In all, I grew 10 tomato plants inside and out. I mean, honestly, what was I thinking? What family of 3 could possibly need so many tomatoes?? And Lewis doesn’t even like tomatoes yet!

So, rule of thumb for next year: one beefsteak, one cherry, and one normal Moneymaker type job. Maybe a bonus Moneymaker, but that’s the lot.

Make More Efficient (and Tidier) Use of the Greenhouse
Growing fewer tomatoes will mean I can make better use of my greenhouse. I grew 3 tomato plants in there this year, which admittedly remained blight free and provided me with a crop, but also took over the greenhouse.

This meant that the crops I grew that did actually need a greenhouse, such as melons, peppers, and aubergines, got smothered by the toms and delivered bugger all.

If I grow all my tomatoes outside next year, I can use the greenhouse properly for those heat-loving veg that I can’t grow anywhere else.

Don’t Grow So Many Courgettes
Whilst I’m at it, I’m not going to grow so many courgette plants next year either. I reckon I only need one. The two I grew this year got massive too, taking up a big space on the veg bed.

Cover My Brassicas AT THE VERY BEGINNING!
Yep, this year saw a second successive brassica massacre. I really need to up my game if I am going to beat the cabbage whites.

Growing certain veg in the garden is much harder than on an allotment, in my humble opinion. For example – and I’m not entirely sure why – but I never had the cabbage white problems to the same extent on the plot as I do in my garden.

I’ve recently pondered whether it could be the end of the road for brassicas, but I’m going to give them one more go in 2015. I’m going high security though and will be building a proper structure to attach my net to, as well as covering the minute that I plant my seedlings out.

3 thoughts on “5 Things I’ll Be Doing Differently in 2015”

  1. You could try growing ‘Ferline’ tomatoes which are supposed to be blight resistant – they are a pretty tasty tomato too. I grew nine in the greenhouse and six outdoors – the Sungold were amazing this year – no blight on any tomato plants – whew. As for brassicas – I left the planting till late and missed caterpillar attacks by doing so, funnily enough three psb plants that were planted out uncovered weren’t subject to caterpillars or slugs – not sure how that happened. As this is my first full season of only growing in the garden I have learned a lot of lessons too – one courgette plant really is enough unless you are a courgette obsessive and a summer squash plant provides far more than I could possibly use. Every year is a learning curve and all we can do is hope not to repeat our mistakes.

  2. I did all the same things as you with my tomatoes and courgette/pumpkins this year.
    I might still grow lots of squash and cucumbers next year but save space by planting them all close to the runner beans and peas and let them grow up the supports.These were the ones this year which produced the best fruits anyway.

    Maybe on the allotment there’s lots more choice of brassica for the cabbage whites to go at ie on your neighbours plots,whereas at home yours might be the only veg patch around?

    I went to town with netting the brassica on my plot this year but even then a couple of butterflies got in and I had to chase them round! The netting was too large and bulky to access for weeding etc and I’m going to cut it in half next year to cover two separate beds and hopefully double the chances of success. We’ll see!

  3. Tomatoes can be used a lot in cooking – you’d be surprised how many you use up:

    1. I regularly use 100 cherry tomatoes to make a soup for 3 people. Alternatively, a dozen salads/beefsteaks. Amazing how quickly your temporary glut comes down if you make some soup.
    2. Tomatoes also freeze well for use in cooking later on. We’re still enjoying the fruit of the summer in mince-based sauces.
    3. A tomato-based sauce/puree also freezes well in little tupperware/chinese takeaway boxes. You can easily reduce 5lb of tomatoes into one concentrated sauce for freezing.
    4. A tomato/onion/mushroom-based gravy is also really tasty – just soften the onion in butter/olive oil, then add the chopped tomatoes/mushroom + some garlic, salt, pepper etc and stew gently for about 10 – 15 minutes until it’s a nice mush. Put it quickly into a food mixer to liquidise and it’s ready to serve. Goes really well with lamb chops and mash……

    Tomatoes are also something you can grow really well in pots, so if you’re short of space, you can save on tomatoes by shifting them into 30 cm pots. They do need a bit of tomato food from late June onwards, but I get 5lb of cherries, 7lb of salads and 10lb of beefsteak per plant growing them that way.

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