The dreaded blight?

SAT 7th June 10.30 – 4.00pm SHAFTESBURY PLACE. Celebrate 150 years of Brighton to Seaford railway with coffee/tea and homemade cake, exhibition, open garden, cookery demo, model railway display, music, picnic, guided walk, etc.  See ‘Events’ above.


Every year brings with it a different set of challenges. Last year, there was a very cold spring , the year before it was very dry and the year before that our summer was very cool. This year, it’s warm and wet – we had a warm winter when pests weren’t knocked out. Warm and wet are ideal for pests-and-diseases.  It looks like 2014 is turning out to be a pest-and-disease year.

Our fruit trees have a bad infestation of aphids, luckily not terminal. Our chard has a virus rot, and the unsightly leaves can be removed. But our tomato seedlings look very much like they may have a blight. This is early in the season for blight but the conditions have been ideal. We’ve been pushed for space so I put the tomato seedlings outside. It was also fairly warm and dry ten days ago (17-21C) so I was hoping to harden them off ready for outdoor planting. But it’s been raining on and off for the last week, and it’s got colder: 13-15C. And we’ve been watering from the water butt. And they’d been collecting water in the trays I had them standing in when it was hot. And we’ve been busy with planting and preparing for our event on Saturday, so the tomato seedlings have been a bit neglected. Oh dear!

I have some beautiful Sweet Million plants in the greenhouse – I don’t want any blight to spread. Should we just give up on the seedlings?

I’ve been searching the internet. This hasn’t really helped as many sites are North American and there they suffer from early tomato blight Alternaria solani. The RHS tells me this is not prevalent in the UK. So is it magnesium deficiency? Or Septoria? Or one of many viruses? Some leaves have spots, but not the blotches on the edge that I associate with blight. They are upper leaves, not lower ones. And no other symptoms.

So here’s a plan:

1) We pot up the healthier looking seedlings – no more than 10

2) We remove any yellow or spotted leaves and bag up immediately to get rid of

3) We spray with a foliar feed: many people swear by Epsom salts.

4) Watering needs to be with mains water, not from water butts, and always around the bottom of the plant, never on the leaves.

5) We keep the selected plants in the conservatory where it’s warmer but we need to ensure ventilation.

6) We keep a regular check on them to see how they are doing

7) We use anti-viral and anti-bacterial hand sprays before and after handling the plants.

They may just be sickly from not very conducive conditions: cool and not enough nutrition as they need potting up. Fingers crossed







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