Tomatoes: Beating the blight


Tomatoes are one of the most popular home crops, they taste great, are simple to grow, and can fit on a patio or even a balcony..

They do have their problems though: Blight – a fungal infection which turns first the plant and then the fruit brown and soggy thrives in damp conditions, such as a Bristol summer. As it is airborne outdoor crops are vulnerable.

Growing undercover in a greenhouse, or under a plastic cover is not possible for everyone, and though you can spray with anti fungal compounds most people hope to avoid chemicals by growing their own. Fortunately plant breeders have produced varieties which are blight resistant: This doesn’t mean they won’t show signs of blight – but if you remove all discoloured, infected foliage they will pull through and crop for you.

Ferline’ came on the market a few years ago, but mine weren’t very tasty and ‘Koralick’, which is said to be resistant, died. I have had better results in the last two years with ‘Crimson Crush’, which survived and cropped well, even after I had to remove half the foliage. This year I am also giving the new variety ‘Mountain Magic’ a go, which claims to be the most resistant yet.

Another approach is to get a crop before blight strikes, the earliest tomato I know of is ‘Latah’. It is a bush tomato and so the fruit ripen over a short period, but this can be as early as mid June.