They look awful. Just awful.
The blight I mentioned before has infected most of my tomatoes to some degree, some a lot and some only a little. I have been trying to apply the Liqui-Cop to combat it, but I think the rain has not helped at all. I really hate showing bad pictures, but here goes: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Below is one of my bed of Dr. Wyche’s yellow tomatoes.
For as long as I have grown tomatoes, they always seem to go this direction – black spots, dry brown leaves, dead branches. It is discouraging, but we have easily gotten over 250 pounds of tomatoes out of the garden, and it is now just mid-July. I am very satisfied with that!
I am not really sure how long these tomatoes will last, or how much they will produce even if they do. We have harvested all the ripe ones, and there are still some green growing. We will get more. I am fairly sure about that. But it is time to really seriously understand this enemy. I may have a big garden, but in some ways I feel like a novice.
The video below from the MIGardener is simply fantastic. I really like this guy Luke and his enthusiasm. Here is what I got from the video, but please watch it!
You can’t get rid of blight. I was really relieved to hear that! It is in the soil and it will come eventually, no mater what. Blight is a fungus and thrives when it is wet and cooler, which it has been a lot in June. This is why there is early and late blight, for late spring and early fall when it is cooler. Once it gets hotter and drier, like the middle of summer, blight is inhibited.
Air flow is essential for drying off the leaves, which I already knew. You should prune the leaves up off the ground to get the plant away from the fungal spores in the soil. I had already done this, up 12-18 inches. He recommended 2 feet between plants, which I did. I am glad to have him confirm that with his advice. He also recommends removing the infected leaves, which I have done only sporadically. I really did not know if it would hurt the plant, so I didn’t do too much. Leaving the leaves leaves the spores. (I really like the sentence…)
What does Luke recommend to combat blight? 1-3 tablespoons of baking soda, an equal part vegetable oil, and tiny bit of dish soap to 1 gallon of water. The oil helps the baking soda stick to the leaves. This makes the leaf environment more alkaline, which inhibits the spores from growing. Ah, speak to me with chemistry and I will understand. Tell me about some homemade concoction, and tend to think it is just made up or less effective than a product with convincing technical explanations. Seriously, I could have been doing this since May??!?!
Where do I go from here?
Well, the first thing I am going to do is prune off all the dead growth. It is really starting to get hot, so hopefully the blight will be put into check for the next few months.
I will definitely mix up this solution to spray on the tomatoes. The upper half of the tomatoes don’t seem to be infected, or are so only a little. But it is still raining almost every night! This will wash the solution off the leaves, so I will just have to be diligent about it.
One other thing I will consider for next year: start some determinate tomato seeds in mid-May for transplanting in mid-July for the late season, when my tomatoes could be in the same condition.
And now for something really ugly…
I was out inspecting the tomatoes, harvesting and considering whether to prune… when I saw these guys. Leaf footed bugs. The garden gloves came on and I caught and popped every single one of them with extreme malice. That is all I do when I see them, or squash bugs. Pop! Pop! Pop!
I don’t know how they got there, but I have not seen any since.