Yup, it’s Early Blight

The wonderful Colorado State University Extension provides a terrific online tool for diagnosing a myriad of tomato diseases. Take, for example, the following:

Early Blight, Colorado Sate University Extension image
Early Blight, Colorado Sate University Extension image
POD gold nugget, early blight
Early Blight, POD Gold Nugget

So, okay, POD has Early Blight. No surprise there — it’s a recurring theme on deck.

Yeah, you may have thought you were off the hook. Your tomatoes were thriving and then, suddenly, they weren’t.
Symptoms become more obvious during the hotter months, so June and July spell tomato doom in Philly.

Now, what to do?

  • Prune diseased leaves (as POD does oh-so-conscientiously) but keep an eye out for sunburned fruit. If you have to harvest it early, wrap it in newspaper and it’ll ripen in a few days.
  • Since this is a fungus (soil, wind, or seedborne), sanitation is your best best: Remove all diseased plant leaves from the soil, clean your trimming tools, space your containers judiciously, avoid touching healthy leaves with the sick ones, wash hands before touching healthy plants.
  • At the end of the season, clean and dry containers and drainage materials thoroughly.
  • Use fresh potting soil each year. (POD dumps her used dirt on the local community pocket park…is this bad? No vegetables are grown there, the park desperately needs something besides city-provided wood chip mulch, and it truly hurts to throw the soil away.)
  • Good air circulation is key, but the gusty winds on deck do a good job of ensuring this.
  • Water the soil in the morning — avoid watering the leaves. Philly’s cold, rainy May and June didn’t help with these efforts…at all.
  • If the infestation is heavy, use sulfur dust, Neem, or copper spray — it may help protect new leaves from infection.
  • Fertilize! POD could be much more diligent on this count. Next year, POD’s gonna’ stick a calendar on the fridge and use an organic 5-6-5(ish) fertilizer every couple of week.
  • Demonstrate patience: properly harden-off seedlings, transplant when evenings are consistently over 55 degrees, and trim leaves before sinking them into the soil. Refer to Return of the Fungi.
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2 thoughts on “Yup, it’s Early Blight

  1. ‘s OK to dump your spent potting soil in a community space as long as it’s not going to be used to grow what was diseased – I dump mine in the bed of annuals our community garden (Bella Vista/ Bel Arbor) established outside of our fence.
    tomatoes used to flourish on my roofdeck. Last couple of years, they looked glorious ’til late July, then just collapsed. I had thought it was too hot Maybe it was this. Next year I’ll use those pots for something else and resist the temptation to simply augment the soil.
    BTW, I have GREAT success with herbs, blueberry bushes, and even a dwarf fig tree (along with roses and a butterfly bush) on my roof deck!

    1. I figured the dirt dumping was okay on a vegetable-free garden…still, I find myself doing it under the cover of darkness. I’ve been thinking about blueberries…maybe I’ll plant a bush in the front of the house, where my ornamentals (AKA flowers) live.

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