How to beat tomato blight: last year was one of the worst years on all our sites

Thanks to plot holder Fiona Heath for putting together this useful guide on tomato blight.

Last year was one of the worst for tomato blight on all our sites. It’s a disease caused by an airborne fungus-like organism that spreads rapidly in the foliage and fruit of tomatoes in wet weather. Its spores can stay in the soil for up to 4 years.

Symptoms of blight:-

  • Leaves shrivel and turn brown.
  • Brown lesions appear on the stem.
  • Brown patches appear on green and red fruit, more mature fruit will decay rapidly.
  • The whole of an infected plant must be removed from site; roots, stem and fallen tomatoes. Do not compost or dig into the soil.

There is no cure, but prevention is the best control measure:-

  • Rotate your crops.  Don’t plant in the same spot as last year’s tomatoes or potatoes.
  • Give your plants some space. Plants should be at least 24 inches apart to allow adequate air circulation among leaves to keep them dry.
  • Water the soil around your plants.  Avoid overhead watering.
  • Mulch around the base.  Fungus can spread up from the soil.  Remove lower leaves.
  • Try using disease resistant varieties.

Hopefully, if we’re vigilant, we can prevent the spread of blight and have a bountiful crop of tomatoes.