Designing Beautiful Borders

Tomato Blight: Spot it before your plants are soup

 I thought I would start my first blog of the autumn with an account of what a productive and positive month for gardening September is.

Unfortunately, the arrival of tomato blight on my lovely ripening crop of tomatoes has put pay to that. The "Hurray for High Summer" blog will have to wait!

Tomato blight is a fungal disease which causes the leaves of the plant to brown and shrivel, and the fruit to blacken and rot.

Blight is spread by spore bearing structures (sporangia) which are carried in the wind and eventually released into rain water. This is why a damp summer is bad news for tomatoes and of course potatoes, which also suffer from blight.

It is inevitable that tomatoes grown outdoors will become infected. Greenhouse grown tomatoes fair much better as you can protect them from the rain. 

There are no chemical treatments for blight, so it is important to recognise the early symptoms. This way, you can harvest your crop and finish off ripening indoors.

Early symptoms include shrivelling and browning of the leaves and brown lesions which develop on the stems. If left unchecked, before long, your fruit and plants will be a soup of rotting watery stems and black rotting fruit - not something that you would wish to sprinkle croutons on!

tomatoblightleaves.jpg  tomatoblightstem.jpg

 So, if your tomato plants are showing suspect symptoms, here is what to do next:

  1. Harvest any fruit that hasn't been affected – they are perfectly safe to eat.
  2. Place the fruit on a warm windowsill in the presence of a ripe banana or two - bananas release ethylene which speeds up ripening in fruit,

 Or you could make some green tomato chutney

3. Dig up your plants and either add them to your green bin, burn them, or take them to the council recycling centre. Do not compost!