Recently, I’ve been pondering what I could have done to prevent the tomato blight that ripped through all my outdoor tomatoes this year.
Tomato blight is a funny old thing. It’s a disease that affects the foliage and fruit of the tomato plant and causes rot. Blight is most common during cool wet, weather and spreads quickly if the conditions are right.
And there’s the crux. In the first instance, there isn’t much you can do. You can’t influence the weather.
However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this year compared to others, it’s that some of this year’s methods certainly haven’t helped when it comes to controlling my blight problems.
So here are 4 things I could have done to try and keep the blight away.
Give the Plants More Space
In the past, I’ve always planted tomatoes a good few feet apart to ensure good airflow and light around the plants. This helps the plants dry quicker after wet weather and slows the spread of blight.
This year, I tried to cram as many plants as I could into my raised beds. If the weather had been dry I reckon I might have got away with this, but not with all the rain we had during August.
Keeping the foliage dry is important, so I always water from the bottom of the plant. Watering the morning is a neat idea too, as the foliage can dry before night time.
Keep a Watchful Eye
It’s useful to know the weather conditions that can cause blight, as this makes keeping an eye out for the disease easier. I was nowhere near proactive when it came to pulling up diseased plants at the first sign of blight, giving it maximum chance to spread.
I’m normally pretty good at this and rip out any blighted plant with haste, but I guess this year I’ve been lazy (that’s taught me a lesson!).
Pulling up plants is important on an allotment, as the disease will spread quickly to neighbouring plots.
I put infected plants into my Council green waste bin. Whatever you do, don’t compost plants with blight.
Sow a Greenhouse Crop Too
Now, this is where I have done okay this year! I planted some toms in the greenhouse too, which has remained dry and free of blight. I’m completely in love with my greenhouse at the mo, for this reason alone. The tomatoes have taken a while to ripen, but I’m going to get an (albeit smaller) harvest after all.
Try blight-resistant varieties
Some tomato varieties have shown a level of resistance to blight. I have previously grown Fantasio F1 and the tasty Legend beefsteak, both of which grew really well. Other blight tolerant varieties include Ferline F1, Lizzano F1, and Lozzetto F1.