Preparing for Blight

A question came into Ask Gardenerd this week, which brought back memories of our sad summer last year:

“I have some kind of blight that returns to my tomatoes every year. One
tomato that survived and re-sprouted after a severe cutting back was the
first to develop it this year. I had to remove it and trash the
foliage.  Do you have any idea what this is, and what I need to do to prevent it?”

Arg, blight.  It’s such a nuisance, isn’t it?  First off, you did the right thing by pulling and trashing the plant. It is important to remove any plants that have been infected with any kind of blight, as it can live in the soil, on cages and certainly in plants that are left behind.  Good winter freezes usually take care of the problem, but you can take other measures to prevent it from coming back on your new tomatoes this year.

1) Plant disease resistant varieties – this option is appealing for non-heirloom variety growers

2) Plant later – like July – if you live in a coastal climate, you can wait for June Gloom to pass and then plant your tomatoes.

3) Use an organic spray for blight called Serenade – it’s an organic bacterial spray.

4) Cut away the affected leaves when you see signs of
damage. That helps to keep it from spreading.

There was a severe outbreak of blight across the country last year because of some irresponsible plant vendors. Here’s a blog about it all:

Tomatoes on the Grand Scale

The other thing to do is to clean your cages before using them again this year.  Spray them with hydrogen peroxide and leave them out in the sun to bake a little.

We’re all crossing our fingers for a better tomato year.  I hope these tips help you achieve a higher yield from healthy plants.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Christy Wilhelmi

    The best thing to do is to plant your tomatoes in a different location this year.  If you’re doing it in containers, thoroughly clean your pots with a bleach/water solution 1:10, and scrub them with a wire brush.  Use clean soil and start over.  I know it’s a pain, but it will help.

  2. Leslie

    This is EXACTLY what the problem with my tomatoes was last year. Between that and the powdery mildew on the squash, my garden was toast by mid-summer. I’m hoping raised beds will help this year, but just in case I can’t get them constructed in time, is there anything I should be doing with the soil to keep these things from coming back this year?
    (I definitely won’t be buying my plants from Costco again. What a stupid mistake!)

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