Friday, September 7, 2012
Two pictures were required to depict all of one tomato plant. This plant set eight separate clusters of fruit with a ninth bunch of blossoms now open. This might seem rather ordinary to some but we are coming off two consecutive years of total crop loss to late blight. Two years ago several tomato plants were closely planted and no suckers were removed. Late blight quickly took all of the plants. We felt partly responsible for the crop loss since our mistakes heavily contributed to the susceptibility of the plants to the disease. Last year we increased the spacing between the plants, removed the suckers as soon as they appeared and used an anti blight spray. Still we lost our tomatoes to the blight.
This year the increased distance between the plants and the sucker removal were repeated. No spray was used. Somehow it seemed unwise to use a substance that requires me to wear a breathing mask while spraying and wash all of my clothes immediately after on something that I intend to eat. Weather is a big factor in the spread of late blight. This year the air brought us no blight. The curled leaves indicate the presence of some wilt. Wilt will slowly cause the plants to drop their leaves but we will harvest vine ripened fruit for many more days to come.
Both Italian Goliath and Ferline have some blight resistance naturally. Both will be planted again next year. Our Better Boys all have open cracks at the stem end and hard greenish yellow places in the upper sections of the fruit. This may be the result of our unwillingness to use chemical fertlizer but we are looking for a new variety of tomato for next year. Any suggestions?
I really don't like to spend time reading the plant disease section of gardening books. I prefer to think the plants will be healthy and many times they are. However a check in the book would seem to indicate that the cracks, yellow shoulders and hard green spots on some of my tomatoes are all a result of drought. Apparently evenly moist soil will avoid these problems. One good thing, I can compost the fruit without worrying about disease this time.