A good year for tomato crops

Posted: Wednesday 20 August 2014
by Pippa Greenwood

This summer has been all about tomatoes for me. I seem to have had more questions and heard more stories about this much loved crop than ever before.

Tomato crop

This summer has been all about tomatoes for me. I seem to have had more questions and heard more stories about this much- loved crop than ever before. Right now, as I continue to fight the battle against my lovely blackbirds eating my lovely tomatoes, I’m also heartened to see just how many more fruits are still forming on the super-vigorous plants.

In people’s gardens, outdoor crops have been so much heavier than usual, largely the result of the unusually hot summery weather we had for so long. But then, of course, windy spells have followed and everyone seems to be having problems with heavily laden tomato plants crashing to the ground. I’ve been discussing ways to gently lever them upright and multi-cane stake them while the fruits get a chance to ripen.

Then of course there was the blight problem earlier in the summer, with potatoes being worst hit. Sadly some tomatoes succumbed to blackish-brown blotches and then death. It's important to clear up the debris and ensure it's tightly bagged up or burned so that the risk to other susceptible crops is minimised, as well as the risk of carry over to next year. 

Luckily the blight era was quite short and most of us survived it. But now black, leather-bottomed fruits are showing blossom end rot, due to erratic or inadequate watering. This awful-looking problem is caused by the lack of calcium in the fruits and the subsequent collapse of cells at their base. The good news is that, provided you become a more constant and even waterer, the fruits formed later will be fine.

So tomatoes end-to-end for me so far this summer, and we’ve still got plenty more to come. Provided the blight doesn’t rear its ugly head now that the weather is wetter, sneaking through the vents of my greenhouse, and provided I keep the blackbirds out, I hope to have plenty of tasty fruits for the freezer as well as for our plates.

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Talkback: A good year for tomato crops
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Meleri 20/08/2014 at 18:40

Hi Pippa,
I've also had a continuous supply of both ailsa craig and gold sunrise from my greenhouse grown plants. Until recently they've been very healthy but I've noticed several damaged, hole ridden leaves, and some bright green caterpillars with a yellowish streak which i gather are the culprits? I wonder which type of butterfly may have sneaked thought the vent, whose offspring are busy destroying my lovely tomatoes?!

Verdun 20/08/2014 at 18:57

I have a net draped over the door to the GH and one over the open window to comtrol caterpillar damage.

BobTheGardener 20/08/2014 at 19:06

Those are the caterpillars of the Tomato moth.  The full name is Bright-line Brown-eye (Lacanobia oleracea.)  Both the moth and the caterpillars are most active at night.  The caterpillars are very good at hiding - check along the stems and any supports, twine etc, especially where any vertical sections are covered by a leaf.  If you go out during the night and have good hearing, you can actually track them down by following the munching sounds!

Neil Rumsey 20/08/2014 at 19:40

I have grown montgage lifter tomatoes they have been very good I also have the same caterpillars you just have to be vigilant and keep removing them I have only lost 1 tomato due to them eating it