Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Are Tomatoes Really Worth the Effort?

Monday morning was lovely and sunny but after lunch we had lots more cloud about. By late afternoon it was that sort of cloud that makes you think its going to rain any minute but it never actually did.

Last week I blogged about our home greenhouse tomatoes and the fact that they were doing much better than last year. I shouldn't have done it and as if by magic on our next visit to the allotment we realised that the tomatoes growing in our plot greenhouse are lined up for a disaster this year.
A rather casual glance and the plants don’t look too bad but when you look a little closer the green tomatoes have a problem. Look at the green tomatoes at the top of the plant on the right of the picture. First reaction is that the fruits have developed blossom end rot.

Then after actually inspecting the plants more closely I’m not so sure. This isn't blossom end rot.
As if this isn't bad enough the whole plant is showing signs of distress. The plants have certainly stopped growing and the leaves at the top of the plant are curling inwards and look very fern like whilst the older leaves are turning yellow rather prematurely.
The leaves look very similar to the fern like appearance cause by hormonal weedkillers which we’ve had problems with in the past. All the tomatoes are planted in large size Levington growbags with three plants to each bag. I'm not entirely convinced that the problem isn't something to do with the growing medium.

Now we're into environmentally friendly peat free composts it seems that anything can end up in the compost you buy. I've yet to find a peat free compost that gives consistently good results but I suppose that’s another story.

Like many gardeners these days when I find a problem it’s time to have a look on the Internet to see if there are any solution out there. The nearest disease I've found so far is tobacco mosaic virus but how the plants have actually got this I've no idea. If my hunch is correct then it seems most likely that all the plants will be infected and will need to be destroyed.

Now I'm not going to compost these diseased plants and the Local Authority allotment rules prevent me from burning the plants so they're going to go in a large bag and finish up in the green waste bin that the council will collect compost and add to new bags of peat free compost and so the cycle goes on.

Like I said at the beginning of this post I don’t think tomatoes are worth the effort as a successful crop has probably got nothing to do with effort nowadays but whether or not you are lucky enough to get a batch of decent compost to grow the plants in.


  1. Doesn`t seem to be your year at the moment Sue and Martyn I used to spray the whole of the inside of my greenhouse in the spring with a solution of Jeyes fluid are you still allowed to do that?.I have lots of outdoor toms at the moment whether they ripen or not remains to be seen

    1. I don't think you can use Jeyes fluid any more but like you I'm not 100% sure. News from the RHS is good I think in that the plants have become stressed (like me) due to excessively high greenhouse temperatures. Might well be true as it's difficult to ventilate the plot greenhouse satisfactorily.

      If you have doubts about ripening outdoor toms we've got no chance way up north.

  2. Sorry about your greenhouse tomatoes...hope you find the exact cause.

    1. I'm going for the excessive temperature problem identified by the Royal Horticultural Society as it's far better than a virus and at least we might be lucky and get some of the tomato plants to produce a crop.

  3. How completely frustrating, after all of the hard work you've put into them already. Do you have the option of growing them in the ground, either inside or outside? I find Sungold do consistently well outside, although of course lots of varieties have problems. I just can't give up growing tomatoes though, despite poor returns. I'm waiting for that bumper year!

    1. I'm addicted to growing tomatoes too CJ. I bet I can't stop myself next spring.

      After all the blog recommendations for Sungold I've tried some this year. The three Sungold plants in the plot greenhouse look okay still and I think we'll have some ripe tomatoes by the weekend provided they don't get too stressed out by then.


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