Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Blighted Tomatoes

Everywhere I look there's a tomato blight epidemic in London.  The weather we've been having this summer has presented the ideal conditions of warmth and wet.  The fungus is transmitted with water and especially when there's been intense rainfall leaving droplets of water on the leaves and the stems.

The first place I found an attack was at the Bramford Community Garden last Thursday evening.  I quickly removed all the tomatoes and there really weren't too many salvageable fruit to harvest red or even green.  Just the chore of pulling all the plants up and disposing of them.

The next day I was volunteering at Capital Growth's Regent Park Allotment garden and the same situation again.  Again, the majority of the tomatoes were blighted.  We managed to save a lot of the fruit and I was kindly given 3kg of green tomatoes for my efforts in tomato plant disposal.

Monday morning I went for my usual volunteering duties at the Ricard's Lodge High School Gardening Club and.... yep you've guessed it... blight attack!

The only place that seems to be unscathed is my own back garden.  There have been a few suspect branches but I removed them very swiftly and it doesn't seem to be spreading so far, fingers and toes crossed!  But it's plain to see that this year is a blight year and I am guessing that London is not alone.

So here's what I've been doing when discovering attacks:

1.  It spreads so fast that the first thing to do is remove any infected plants and harvest any salvageable fruit.
2.  Disinfect any containers, tools, gardening gloves, canes, my clothes, my footwear, myself ...!
3.  If there are any salvageable fruit wash them in soapy water
4.  Hit the recipe books for some good green tomato recipes

Going forward the big issue is the soil they've been growing in which will now be contaminated with the fungus.  There are differing opinions of how long to wait before planting solanaceae crops (e.g. tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines) in the soil.  I think the best method is to follow a four year crop rotation plan which will provide a break of 4 years before the next planting of solanaceae.

If you have lots of green tomatoes, here's a few recipes:
Green Tomato Chutney
Tomato Ketchup

Have you suffered from a tomato blight attack recently?

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