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Latest posts by Italophile

tomato plants

Posted: 11/05/2012 at 10:37

I think it's true, Peter. Some plants need tons of care and attention, others don't. The tomato is a lot, lot sturdier than people imagine. There's an old saying - more toms are killed by overwatering and overfeeding than neglect.


Posted: 11/05/2012 at 10:33

Planting out usually means moving a plant from wherever it started its life, or spent its intermediate stage, in your case, on the windowsill, to its final home - in a greenhouse or outside.

I haven't grown spuds in bags, only in the ground, but I wait till they're about 15-20cm before covering them. It might be different with bags, I don't know. Someone with experience might know better.


Posted: 11/05/2012 at 09:45

I'm not sure that 20cm will be big enough, flowergirl. Can you manage at least 30cm? They grow into big plants.

Talkback: Tomato blight

Posted: 11/05/2012 at 09:37

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Talkback: Tomato blight

Posted: 11/05/2012 at 09:34

There seems to be a bit of confusion between blight (an airborne fungal problem) and virus or bacteria (which are soil-based).

Blight, in terms of toms, has taken on a generic meaning. The term gets applied to any or all of the fungal problems that manifest mainly on tomato leaves. There are Blights - two of them, Early and Late - but also half a dozen other fungal problems that can resemble the Blights. Septoria Leaf Spot is only one of them.

Fungal spores are airborne. They're everywhere. You can't stop them if they're around. And once they've settled on the leaves and the disease has manifested, you can't cure it. The best you can do is take preventive measures against the spores.

The fungal spores' best friends are dampness, humidity and a lack of air circulation. Adequate space between plants and judicious trimming of excess foliage will help with air circulation.

Trimming the lower branches in order to maintain 10" to 12" between the lowest branch and the soil will help guard against reinfecting the plant during watering. Fungal spores fall from the leaves to the soil, watering can splash them back up onto the leaves, and the gap offers some protection.

Spraying is another means of prevention. Copper sprays have been around forever. Like the other preventive sprays, they coat the leaves, providing a barrier between the spores and the leaf surface. You have to spray both sides of the leaves, for obvious reasons, and respray after rain. Copper is classified, technically, as organic - because it's naturally-occurring - but it's still a metal. And it will kill foraging insects.

Other spraying options include chlorothalonyl-based products developed for tomato and other similar plants. They're chemical, but harmless to foraging insects. I've used them and found them the most effective preventive spray. But they're hard to come by for the domestic market.

As I said, once the fungal disease has manifested, there's no cure. If you catch it early enough, remove the affected leaves and destroy them. And bear in mind that you can transfer the spores from affected to unaffected leaves with your hands.

Of the Blights, Late Blight is the worst. It can and will kill a plant within weeks. Early Blight will eventually kill a plant, but, unless the infestation is severe, the plant will usually survive to the end of the season. Late Blight will also affect the fruit, unlike Early Blight, which doesn't usually, or at least not until late in the season. Nor do most of the other fungal diseases.

Fungal spores can and will live on on top of the soil. You don't need to remove the soil. Buried under a couple of inches of fresh soil, the spores remain harmlesss. Unless you stir them up again.

<a title="Early Blight" href="" target="_blank">Here's some info on Early Blight, probably the most common fungal problem in the domestic tomato patch.</a>

<a title="Late Blight" href="" target="_blank">Ditto on Late Blight, the most destructive of the Blights, but uncommon in the domestic tomato patch.</a>

<a title="Septoria Leaf Spot" href="" target="_blank">Ditto on Septoria Leaf Spot, often confused with Early Blight, and just about equally common in the domestic tomato patch.</a>

These days you'll see hybrid tomato plants advertised as Blight-resistant. It doesn't mean they won't be affected by Blight - or the other fungal diseases - it just means they've been bred to battle on a bit longer.

Tomato virus and bacterial diseases are a different matter. They can be seed-borne or soil-borne. They're also less common in the domestic veg garden than fungal diseases because they ne


Posted: 11/05/2012 at 08:11

How big is the pot you have in mind, flowergirl? Aubergines need containers of a decent size because they grow into very sturdy plants. Bonica is also one of the bigger fruits, too, so you'll need a solid stake to support the plant and its fruit.

Ideally aubergines need full sun. How does that fit with the patio plastic greenhouse?

Beyond that, wait till it's properly warm before planting it out. They need warmth. You can fertilise when need be with a dedicated tomato food.

tomato plants

Posted: 11/05/2012 at 07:03
Gaffelbiter wrote (see)

I had a dismal crop last year of tomatoes last year, so this year I am trying Sub Arctic Plenty. I have them in a poly tunnel under fleece and they are romping away. The Super Maramande are having a grand sulk. Unseasonally cold here in Edinburgh.

Yes, Sub Arctic Plenty is one of the earliest maturing toms created for very short growing seasons. Stupice, a Czech variety, is another. I grew Stupice once just out of interest. The short period to maturity makes for a shortage of flavour, unfortunately, but they're better than no tomatoes at all in places with very short growing seasons.

Marmande is a nice tom. Hopefully Edinburgh's weather will warm up!

tomato plants

Posted: 11/05/2012 at 06:54
PETER LEWIS wrote (see)
This is my first year growing tomatoes in my unheated greenhouse. I'm using growpots and I wondering how much watering I should apply should the compost be kept constantly moist or should the the surface of the compost be allowed to dry out between waterings.

Peter, better to let the mix dry out between waterings, by which I mean dry out pretty completely. Very very few plants like damp feet and toms aren't one of the very very few. How big are your pots? Poke a finger down deep into the mix to test for moisture. If it's dry down to the depth of your finger - subject to the size of the pot - water.

As I've posted elsewhere here, toms are very sturdy critters that will produce much better for you if they're treated with - for want of a better term - controlled neglect. Pampered toms - over-watered and over-fed - will never achieve their maximum potential.

As an example, I grow them outdoors here in Tuscany. The summer temps can sit in the 40s for weeks on end. In those conditions, I water infrequently - about once a week at most - but very deeply. They produce tons of fruit.

Now obviously toms in pots have different requirements simply for the very contained space in which the roots live. They can't burrow down in search of moisture. But the same general rule of thumb applies - make their lives too easy and comfy and they won't give of their best.

tomato plants

Posted: 10/05/2012 at 18:13

Can you give us a little more detail on the mottling? Are there identifiable spots? More detail will give us a better clue.

Curly leaves on tomato plants...

Posted: 10/05/2012 at 06:48
Giles Buist wrote (see)

Hi All, I too am seeing the leaves on my tomato and chilli plants curl. I can see a variety of possible reasons suggested above and may try to think of a way to test for each with the 3 mature plants that are doing it. But have also provided some pictures below, in case anyone is able to help me pinpoint the cause. As a bit more background, all three of the taller tomato plants I purchased from a garden centre, though I am starting to see some signs of curl on my grown from seed ones and am seeing it on some of my chilli plants all grown from seed. All plants have been sitting on a window sill temperatures probably 13c lowest, 18c average. On watering, it's my first time growing, reading lots of conflicting advice, had been keeping tomato plant soil very moist and chilli plant soil a lot less. I have been potting on regularly, I've checked for bugs and not found any. Any ideas welcome:


Giles, there is a lot of conflicting advice about watering. I can only say that, after 25 years of growing these critters, less is better. From what I can make out from the photos, the curling looks like too much moisture. Let the mix dry out between watering, and if the pots are sitting in saucers, empty excess water from the saucers. You could probably also do with some more daytime warmth if you can manage it.

There's a general tendency to pamper tomato plants. They don't need it. They're tough critters that will produce in the most surprising conditions. In fact, they're a plant that will thrive on a certain amount of neglect. If they're feeling a tad vulnerable, they will seek to reproduce themselves - by producing fruit. Pampered, they will never feel vulnerable.

You're on the right track with the chillies. Chillies and toms are grown exactly the same way. I'd apply your chilli method to your toms.

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