Does this happen to you? In the middle of the summer do you think “Early blight is killing my tomatoes?” Do you know what early blight looks like? Check out this post on tomatoes and early blight for a picture of beginning early blight on the tomato leaves. It just gets worse from there on in. The leaves turn completely brown and die. I have written a few posts on tomatoes and early blight. I want to encourage you now: not to give up on your tomatoes when they get early blight in the summer time. Each year I supplement my tomato plants with lots of compost. They always get some early blight but most of the time the tomato plant does not die.
Don’t Give Up: Early Blight is Killing My Tomatoes
It has taken me a few years to fully realize this. If you plant your tomatoes with lots of compost, they will re-grow after they are attacked by early blight. I have never had a tomato plant fully die from early blight. There is something about our humid hot summers that encourages early blight. Then towards the end of the summer the tomato plants start to rejuvenate. Tomatoes are very hardy plants. If they lay on the ground they will sprout new roots. Once they start to re-grow they do very well. In the early fall you will see all kinds of new growth. The leaves and stems killed by early blight shrivel away and become inconspicuous amidst all the new growth. And you can get lots of cherry tomatoes right up until the first frost.
It is really amazing how a tomato plant can come back after early blight. I used to cut off all the leaves that were damaged. This year I didn’t do that and still the tomatoes came back. By the end of fall I had so many cherry tomatoes on lush, green, tall plants. The ones in particular are the plants that my father gave me which I have no name for and this year I planted Amy Apricot Cherry tomatoes and they were prolific! They are an heirloom and very delicious. Well worth growing! Above is a picture of the Amy Apricot tomatoes in the fall. You can see the new green growth. You can also see the leaves and stems that were killed by early blight all dried up and brown. It is quite a contrast so don’t give up on your tomatoes in the summer if they are dying. It is possible that they will rejuvenate for the fall.
Garden Problems with Wildlife
Time went on and I didn’t see any signs of the furball intruder. See Garden Visitor to see the first part of this story. I heard from a neighbor that he had a groundhog visitor that he was trying to trap without success so I figured that my furball intruder had moved on to his yard!
Fence Around Beans Worked Well
My fence around the pole beans worked even though it was temporary and not that strong. He didn’t dig under it or move it out of the way. The pole beans were growing nicely up the twine. It seems that he just liked the delectable new growth because he never touched my first planting of pole beans which were already 5 feet high.
Waiting for that First Ripe Tomato
Then one morning–my shocking discoveries are always early in the morning–I checked on my first ripening tomato. It always takes a while to get that first ripe tomato, it seems like it takes forever. Then after the first tomato of the season they seem to ripen faster. I know that is not true, it just seems like that.
So I had been watching this gorgeous big tomato turning red waiting with mouth-watering anticipation for it to be ready. Any day now I would decide that it was ready and pluck it from the plant.
My First Ripe Tomato Was Almost Fully Eaten
Well I was in for a shocking surprise! It was almost fully eaten–only a shell of it remained–in the shape of the gnawing teeth that had eaten it. That darned groundhog (if that is what it is) had helped himself to my first tomato of the season. I was outraged! And not only that–he took a nice bite out of the green tomato right next to it.
Now I was on the warpath but I didn’t really know what to do. Maybe some kind of trap??
Late Blight of Tomato
Late blight of tomato has attacked my tomatoes! It was before the first frost of the season so I collected all the green tomatoes from my garden. I was hoping to extend the season by letting them ripen in the house. I had a nice batch of tomatoes and was looking forward to enjoying them in the beginning of winter. Some of them were big, fat and gorgeous but just not red.
Late Blight is REALLY UGLY
My beautiful green tomatoes started turning leathery, brown and bumpy. I couldn’t really believe my eyes that this was happening and I had no idea what it was.
I started checking on the internet and saw that it was probably late blight. I have been struggling with early blight the last few years. This year I had good successes against early blight and now this!! The diseases are not related at all. I checked with the Extension service and this is the response that I got:
Our plant pathologist looked at your photos and thinks this is Late Blight. Sometimes found in Maryland and affecting both potatoes and tomatoes, it is the fungal pathogen responsible for the infamous Irish potato famine. It can be a very serious disease when the weather is consistantly cool and rainy, which makes it more likely to occur at the end of the growing season.
Chances of the disease overwintering are not great. However, it can overwinter on potato tubers left in the ground of diseased plants. It is recommended to do a thorough end of season clean-up in your garden. Do not compost any plant parts or fruits; get them out of the yard completely.
Here is our page about Late Blight from the Plant Diagnostic portion of our website: http://plantdiagnostics.umd.edu/level3.cfm?causeID=1381
I read that late blight is an airborne disease. This all happened after Hurricane Sandy. So the weather was cool and rainy with lots of wind–I wonder if it blew in with the hurricane. Also not all of the green tomatoes got it. I did get a few that ripened beautifully and were delicious. Here is late blight information from Cornell University supporting this idea:
Note that during cloudy conditions spores of the late blight pathogen can survive being dispersed in wind currents long distances (miles!) because they are protected from the killing effects of UV radiation. Rain can bring these spores down on to plants far from the affected plants that were their source.