Category Archives: Grow Tomatoes

All About Growing Tomatoes

Late Blight of Tomato

Late Blight of TomatoLate Blight Tomato Close Up

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:More Late Blight Tomato

 

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.

 

Staking Tomato Cages

Staking Tomato Cages
Staking tomato cages might have been a good idea in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, (as you can see from the picture.)  By staking, I mean to drive a thick wooden stake into the ground inside and right next to the metal of the tomato cage to give the cage support.  I have done this in the past when the tomato plant gets too big and heavy and starts making the tomato cage lean over.

It Might Not Have Helped At All

Of course, the winds might have been too much for the stake also.  And the cages would have blown over. The plants were quite large and heavy and already slightly leaning.  My hope is that the cages did not bend at the bottom.  These cages actually fold up for storage, so as they leaned over they also folded.  So hopefully, they are not damaged because they are great tomato cages.  Fortunately our growing season is almost over.  There are still tomatoes in the garden but I see next week the temperature is going down to 36 degrees so our first freeze is not too far behind.

We send our prayers and best wishes to everyone who has suffered in this huge storm.  Tomato cages are really the least of anyone’s worries.  We are donating money to help people who have lost everything and I found this link very helpful:  Ten Tips for Donating Smart.