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Latest posts by Italophile

Protecting broad beans?

Posted: 17/11/2012 at 07:56
Dovefromabove wrote (see)

I sow Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudia in November and just leave them be - they always survive (she says with her fingers crossed )

That's what I grew. Snap! I've got some in now. They're indestructible.


Tomato growing tips

Posted: 16/11/2012 at 18:22

I get fungal problems here in Central Italy, cathy, though vastly less than I used to get back in humid old Sydney. It gets mighty hot here but it's mainly dry heat.

Protecting broad beans?

Posted: 16/11/2012 at 10:50

Yes, -17C would hurt them. It would hurt most things! It doesn't get below about -2C here - except for wind-chill - and mine survived. They're surprisingly hardy things. Good idea about the fleece in the cupboard.


Protecting broad beans?

Posted: 16/11/2012 at 08:54

The last time I grew a crop over winter here in central Italy I just left them to cope. It snowed, the snow eventually melted, and there they still were. I got a nice crop. Just my experience.

Tomato growing tips

Posted: 15/11/2012 at 11:18

Sorry, Catherine, I didn't see any specific reference to Late Blight in terms of your article. It just says "tomato blight".

Anyway, Late Blight is no different to any of the other fungal diseases in the way it is transmitted. It's just a different pathogen. The only difference is the ugliness of the outcome. So, in terms of prevention or minimisation of the effects, anything relevant to fungal diseases in general relates to Late Blight.

Well, let me clarify that. The traditional preventive sprays - copper-based - can be effective against the common fungal infections but much less so against Late Blight. The other fundamental difference, of course, is Late Blight's destructive properties. It can destroy a plant within a week so there's usually little that can be done to save the plant once infected. Dove [posting above] had all the classic symptoms of Late Blight but managed to save her plants. A triumph of tomato care!

I'm sorry but the RHS is promolgating a furphy. Toms in greenhouses are not less likely to suffer Late Blight. If the pathogen is around, the plants - outdoors or in a greenhouse - can be affected, and the greenhouse incubator effects I mentioned earlier can and will come into play. I'm sure Monty Don isn't the only one who will question the RHS' advice.

Tomato growing tips

Posted: 15/11/2012 at 09:39
Dovefromabove wrote (see)

Didn't Monty Don lose a greenhouse-full of toms to blight this year?

If he did, it further underlines the connection betwixt greenhouses and fungal problems. I wish I'd seen that episode. I'd love to know exactly which disease(s) the plants had. If he "lost" all the plants it probably wasn't one of the common ones. Unless he was negligent.

Tomato growing tips

Posted: 15/11/2012 at 08:29
Catherine Mansley wrote (see)

Thanks for the tips Busy-Lizzie and Geraldineb. Growing tomatoes in a greenhouse certainly makes them less likely to catch blight, as the blight spores are airborne. Covering outdoor tomatoes with a polythene sheet, draped over supports, should have a similar effect.

Do keep those suggestions coming in. 

Growing in greenhouses doesn't help against fungal disease, Catherine. Quite the opposite. Yes, the spores are airborne, and they will enter greenhouses. Greenhouses, because of their closed environment, can be incubators for fungal disease. In fact, there are fungal diseases like Leaf Mould that are almost specific to greenhouse tomatoes. You rarely see it on outdoor tomatoes.

Fungal diseases have to be seen pretty much as a fact of life for tomato growers. You can't avoid the spores. Unless you want to spray preventively - which doesn't guarantee against infection, but gives you a head start against it - all you can do is seek to minimise the diseases' impact with sound housekeeping practices:

  • Air circulation is the priority. It will help against spores settling on foliage. Keep as much space as is practicable between individual plants and avoid clumps of impenetrable foliage on individual plants by judicious pruning of excess branches and foliage.
  • Avoid wetting the foliage at all costs. Damp foliage is an incubator for fungal spores.
  • Maintain a gap of at least 1' to 18" between the lowest foliage and the soil. Fungal spores can and will drop from the leaves to the soil underneath and can be splashed back up onto the foliage when watering. The gap helps against this.
  • Remove any leaves the moment they show signs of infection. It will help to slow the spread. It won't stop infection because there will be more spores arriving on the breeze.

The reality is that the most common fungal diseases - Early Blight, Septoria Leaf Spot, etc - don't quickly destroy tomato plants. With care, the plants can last the whole season and be typically productive. The nastier diseases - Late Blight, etc - are a different matter. They will wipe out the plant.

I'd also be wary of covering outdoor plants with polythene sheet. It will trap any spores inside and prevent air circulation. The spores will have a picnic.



Tomato Ripening

Posted: 13/11/2012 at 19:10

Congrats! I've got half a dozen from my autumn crop ripening on the kitchen bench now.


Well rotted manure

Posted: 11/11/2012 at 09:41

Good advice from Geoff. Carrots and parsnips resent freshly-manured soil. Yours will be good for them both next season.

Potting my bamboo

Posted: 10/11/2012 at 10:22

Agh ... ! Memories. Bad memories. Hideous memories.

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