The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Tomato blight conflict

blight conditions as of August 16.

The blight seems to be winning on our tomato plants.

There's still a lot to be harvested...but soon the blight is going to win.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I have tried to just strip off the blighted leaves, but many times that leaves the tomato plant in worse-looking shape. Is the blight carried on the leaves, tho? When they are so dry they crumble, maybe they do spread the blight.

Another option is to pick the tomatoes green and let them ripen, either in the sun, or in a partly shaded, not so blazingly hot location. Amazing how green tomatoes do eventually ripen!

Comment by adrianne Tue Aug 16 14:52:56 2016

Hi Anna & Mark,

I've been following your blog for some time now, and I stand in awe of how much you guys have achieved. I've been at this self-sufficiency gig for about 20 years now, and am still far from the level of self-sufficiency you've reached. We're on a 1.7hA (+-4 acre) smallholding in the southern part of South Africa, warm-temperate (no frost) climate with around 800mm/y of rain (if El Nino and all the other climate surprises leave us alone!) clay soil. I am in the clearing-and-construction phase of getting ready for pastured chickens (inspired, in part, by your writings/pictures on the subject) -- our previous flock got taken out by a neighbour's dog, and the a subsequent bout of health issues meant I was not able to do much about it for some years. So back to basics over here ;)

Tomatoes/blight: Blight is an ever present danger for me -- Tomato fruiting time is also the humid time of year for us, so blight happens. I don't like the idea of Bordeaux mix building up Copper levels in the soil, and besides, it was only marginally successful the one time I tried it. Timing the Tomato planting is sometimes partially successful for me, but depends too heavily on the weather for that season. Some seasons we get lucky and the blight gives us a pass, but mostly not. So mainly I am looking for blight-resistant varieties as my best hope. I might have to breed those if nothing else turns up. ;)

I'm curious what variety those Tomatoes are you showed in your recent post - yield looks very good (and I'm a sucker for pear-shaped Tomatoes!)

Comment by Mike Wed Aug 17 04:08:00 2016
I was just in Lancaster PA and noticed that on many of the Amish farms the tomato's were in tall covered plastic tunnels with the bottom open for ventilation. Maybe that could solve your blight problem. You could control the watering.
Comment by Donna Wed Aug 17 11:22:36 2016
In SW Ontario I can only produce harvestable heirloom tomatoes in a greenhouse. Well worth the investment, it also provides a structure for trellising the plants. I only have success with blight resistant hybrids in the field. I've had moderate success with "plum regal." Mountain series has been very blight tolerant as well as "Matt's wild."
Comment by Chris Wed Aug 17 13:35:59 2016

Great comments, everybody!

Mom --- I do strip the blighted leaves early on in the season because they spread blight spores. But at a certain point, I figure every tomato is infected and the plant is better off with every bit of green it can get. We're in the latter stage at the moment. :-/

Mike --- Thanks for sharing your experience! It's fascinating to hear from a gardener in Africa! To answer your question, these are Martino's Romas, which have been at least slightly blight-resistant. Being determinate, they tend to give us masses of fruit before the plants entirely perish, at least.

Chris and Donna --- I suspect you're right. We meant to try a plastic hoop house type structure this spring, but life got in the way and the project never happened. Maybe next year....

Comment by anna Fri Aug 19 11:50:25 2016

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