Blighted Potatoes, Blighted Tomatoes

Saturday almost lived up to the weatherman’s promises. Actual sunshine for most of the day, although it got cloudy late afternoon and rained from early evening.

Blighted Potatoes

Despite the clement weather, I didn’t head for the plot immediately as the potatoes in the shed were in dire need of attention.

On just entering the shed you could smell the blight. If you’ve ever smelled potatoes going off with blight, you’ll know it. A distinctive sour smell that revolts us as nature intended. I have a theory that we’re genetically programmed to avoid certain smells, like rotting meat so we avoid poisons and disease.

Anyway, potato blight. The worst part of the blight is that not only does it kill the foliage but if the spores get onto the tubers they rot as well. This, of course, was the cause of the Irish potato famine.

Once one potato in a sack turns to a putrefying mass of rot the rest of the sack soon follows. Nowadays non-organic farmers spray their crops with various fungicides including systemic ones that protect the tubers but not those grown organically.

So we emptied the sacks out onto some old shower curtains on the back lawn and picked out the bad ones. To be more accurate, we picked out the good ones. One thing I noticed was that the smell of blighted potatoes attracted bluebottles. It actually came in quite handy for spotting ones starting to go as the flies would be on them and ignoring the good ones.

Having got them sorted the next thing was to wash them to remove any blight spores. Ideally I suppose some sort of fungicide would be good but in the absence of that I put a drop of bactericidal hand wash in the water and gave them two washes each. I don’t know that this will work but I really don’t want to lose what has been one of the best crops of potatoes I’ve had in store. So far I think we’ve lost about a third of the crop.

We dried them out but didn’t want to put them back in the sacks as they would be full of blight as well. Val’s solution was some old pillow cases, which will do the job on a temporary basis. We put the hessian sacks through the washing machine and hung them out to dry. Putting the potatoes into damp sacks would be as bad as blight. Our neighbours probably think we’re absolutely mad! Of course it rained before they dried so it depends on the weather, again.

Blighted Tomatoes

I did pop down to the plot for some lettuce and spring onions for a salad and discovered the blight had spread quite badly in the large greenhouse since yesterday. Trimmed off a lot of leaves, removed the odd tomato with a brown patch from the trusses in the hope of slowing the blight’s progress at least and getting some ripe tomatoes.

I also added some SM3 seaweed extract to the water and watered. Next I gave a spray over the foliage with SM3 as well. The idea is to give the plants a ‘vitamin shot’ to help them resist. I doubt it will do much good, but it can’t do any harm.

The photo below is of some of the potatoes as we were sorting them.


Sorting Potatoes on the Lawn

Sorting Potatoes on the Lawn

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
15 comments on “Blighted Potatoes, Blighted Tomatoes
  1. robert canfield says:

    Very interesting page for me as I am an allotment holder, thanks very much

  2. Andy Eyles says:

    Always interesting to see what other people get upto on their plots 🙂

  3. peter dixon says:

    hello just discovered your site whilst looking for info on tomato it ok to pick the green toms that show no sign of blight ,to ripen indoors?

  4. John says:

    Hi Peter
    Yes it is but I find they need to be ready to actually ripen – too immature tomatoes never seem to turn off the vine.
    Do be careful if you have blight because if one rots it will quickly spread to the others.
    What a year!

  5. peter dixon says:

    Hi John
    Thanks for comment…as for the year well I’d given up on the peas and sowed some more about three weeks ago and if this weather continues? may get lucky but the original ones have now perked up and I’m picking..and finally got some (climbing french beans….chopped the potato tops off quite a while ago so OK there (just 1st earlies)…tremendous currant crop so some compensation.
    Right I shall pick what looks likel possible tomatoes…I’ve dug up the really bad ones but even so the crop won’t amount to much…thanks again

  6. stephen pellatt says:

    only our 2nd year of growing tomatoes and masses of blight!it appeared over the course of about a week but the funny thing was that 1 single plant of beef tomatoes didn’t seem to get infected,even though it was alongside 6 smaller varieties that were swamped with the stuff

  7. Guylaine says:

    I live in Canada, Quebec, Montreal and I have a community garden. There are about 100 gardens and all the tomatoes have blight.
    It is my first garden and is quite depressing. My tomatoes we popping up so well, like about 120 on 6 plants and I kind of thought if you take off the infected leaves won’t the disease eat up the other leaves faster because the disease seems to eat up a leaf completely and fall off.
    How long before the whole plant is infected. I discovered the blight about 4 days ago.

  8. Linda says:

    All of my tomatoes have suffered with tomato blight so will send them away withthe green rubbish, but is it ok to use the grow bags that they were growing in on my compost heap or do i have to destroy that as well.
    Very sad.

  9. Clare says:

    Blight spores in grow bags – possibly, I’m afraid Linda, spores are wind carried then wash down from the plant into the compost when it rains. Here in London as August was dry; plus I stopped/trimmed plants ruthlessly to remove anything dodgy, avoid over-stressing them and create space between. In denial since then and trying hard to avoid spraying. But Ailsa Craigs now ripening unevenly and funny coloured in parts. Marmande holding up so far (btw last year Borghese largely escaped) but rescue operation now imminent – bad fruit/plants into green waste as Council’s composting will be hot, wash hands, pick and process good ones (red eat/dry, green chutney/?drying?/keepable salsa?), hang up good trussses plants indoors to ripen and watch like a hawk. Such a shame, isn’t it, for such willing plants?

  10. hannah phelan says:

    I would like to take a minute of my time to sincerely thank you for this page. As a keen potato enthusiast this page has meant a lot to me and has made a significant contribution to my knowedge of potatoes. I have loved potatoes my whole life and inherited this keen and ernest interest off my late father,who is infact an irish ex potato farmer. I have attended many potato lovers conventions as it is my life ambition to become a professional potato farmer. As an owner of several potato allotments, potato blight has always been a concern of mine, as i previously was unable to be able to differentiate between blighted potatos an healthy potatoes. But this has been a huge help to me. Thank you, and I wish all of you all the best in the future and i will be praying for all of you to have successful potatoes. may the lord be with you. Thank you

  11. sophie nutland says:

    i am an extreme lover of potatoes , i eat them most days and grow many i was infected with blight at one point but i am all in the clear now ! thaankyou for the website it has boost up my knowledge and love with potatoes.

  12. julie gosbee says:

    Last year was my first of ‘growing my own’ and i enjoyed it very much and on the whole it was a success. Except for… dreaded tomato blight. I lost my whole crop and was in tears! I would be so grateful for any advice about what precautions can be taken to avoid this again. I was so looking forward to making my chutneys and sauces and ended up buying my toms from the market! Many thanks in advance. Julie

  13. John says:

    There is more information on blight and what to do in the advice articles section of the web site.

  14. julie gosbee says:

    many thanks.

  15. Robert Bolton says:

    Many thanks for all the advice on Potato Blight folks, I’ve had it 3 years running on my Tomatoes! . Does the disease stay in the soil? if so,is there anything that I can do about it ?

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