Latest posts by Italophile

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.

Potting my bamboo

Posted: 08/11/2012 at 08:06

The key is your variety of bamboo. As above, if it's non-invasive, you don't need to worry about a pot to contain it. If invasive, though, a pot won't contain it. The roots will be out through the drainage holes and off or even up the sides of the pot and out and off.

I speak from bitter experience. I once inherited a garden in which a bright spark of a landscape designer buried an old laundry trough and planted an invasive variety. He left the plug in the trough, he said, to stop it spreading through the plug hole. The roots ran up the sides of the trough and out and off. A nightmare.


Posted: 02/11/2012 at 14:46

Ging, carrots also need plenty of sun.

My First year

Posted: 02/11/2012 at 08:46

Carrots and parsnip, as root veg, both need very friable soil with no lumps or stones. If they hit lumps or stones during growing they will either fork - divide into two - or just stop altogether. The other key is not to manure the beds before sowing. Sow into beds manured at least the season before.


Posted: 02/11/2012 at 08:38

Good advice above. The other key is not to add any fresh fertiliser. A bed fertilised the season before is ideal.

Talkback: How to ripen tomatoes on the vine

Posted: 02/11/2012 at 07:26

Given time the green toms will ripen, but temperature is the key, not hanging them in a frost-free shed. If the temp in the shed is in single figures, the green toms will never ripen.

I've now, finally, been able to watch the video. I don't know how. Suddenly it plays when before it wouldn't. I think the video peddles old wives' tales. Tomatoes already on their way to ripening are getting next to nothing from the plant anyway. The plant's job is already done. The plant will be of no use to green tomatoes because it will be dead within three or four days.

Temperature is the key to ripening.

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