Going Potty

Gardener:Old Mangakino Orchard (McCallum's Garden)

Date:26 Sep 2023

Blog Type:Vegetables

Last year we got smashed by early late blight.  I say early as late blight is generally a late summer disease and it hit us in Spring. The downside of a warm climate I suppose. 

I've been doing as much research as I can about it and there is so much conflicting info. Most sites say it doesn't overwinter in soil and needs a host plant and others say it may overwinter in infected potatoes.  What I do know is that it is devastating. 

Late blight is a water mold and thrives in humid conditions.  It spreads via spores and once it infects a plant it's terminal. It appears as dark spots on leaves and stems and also rots the fruit. 

I understood it to start from dirt splashing up onto the leaves but what I am reading is that it often comes in via windblown spores. It will generally thrive on wet leaves so it's best to water at the base of the plant and avoid the leaves. Fungicide sprays work as a preventative but you have to weigh up the impact of copper sprays if going down that path. 

This year I'm trialing growing tomatoes two ways. In this blog I'm growing in pots. The pots are half buried so the roots can make their way into the ground and also the excess water goes there too. 

The pots allow me to use fresh compost and potting mix. Hopefully blight spore free! Also easy to water at the base and used hay to stop the soil splashing. I'll be careful to remove the lower leaves as they grow and thin out to get good airflow.  In the past I tried packing as many as I could in a small space. 

The first lot are in. Should have a few weeks before I need to sort out the frame. Hoping for a blight free season but not holding my breath. At least I know what to look out for now. 

Going Potty