Fight­ing blight in spuds and toms

Amateur Gardening - - Your Gardening Week -

As the weather hots up and thun­der­storms jos­tle for space in our skies, it’s in­evitable that hu­mid­ity lev­els will rise. With this comes an in­crease in cer­tain fun­gal dis­eases – one of the most dev­as­tat­ing for vegetable grow­ers be­ing late blight.

This quick-act­ing fun­gus at­tacks toma­toes and pota­toes, quickly caus­ing fo­liage of both crops to turn brown. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously for toma­toes, the fruits also be­come brown and rot­ten, and potato tu­bers rot in the soil. All in all, it’s pretty cat­a­strophic!

Some toma­toes show re­sis­tance, and so hope­fully va­ri­eties such as ‘Fer­line’, ‘Leg­end’ and ‘Fan­ta­sio’ are in your an­nual reper­toire. Equally, pota­toes such as the Sarpo range show good re­sis­tance. How­ever, the fun­gus is mu­tat­ing all the time, so ul­ti­mately it pays to ob­serve your plants with a fre­quent and scrupu­lous eye.

As soon as any signs of dam­age oc­cur, re­move the af­fected area and, if symp­toms spread, con­sider pulling up and burn­ing the af­fected to­mato plants. Pota­toes can be cut back to soil level if the symp­toms are caught early. If you’re on­line, sign up to the AHDB ‘Fight against Blight’ ser­vice, which no­ti­fies you when the dis­ease is likely to strike in your area.

By cut­ting back blighted potato fo­liage as soon as you see it, you can stop blight reach­ing the tu­bers Check over your toma­toes reg­u­larly in hot, hu­mid weather for the first signs of blight

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