EVERY once in a while devastating and disheartening things happen in the garden that you can do little about.

My daughter was dispirited when she lost nearly all her produce in her first full year — to deer — in Southampton, for goodness sake. But at least she could put up the barricades.

I will have to erect genetic barricades of my own in future years, as I have just lost our entire crop of 12 different types of tomato to that fearsome enemy — late blight.

I am told that it is a huge problem across the Isle of Wight in this wettest and most humid of summers that provides the ideal conditions for the spores to spread not only among the usual suspects — outdoor toms — but indoors into the greenhouse too.

Isle of Wight County Press:

The last (tomato) supper!

We enjoyed probably the last supper of our home-grown tomatoes the other night. Delicious they were, but the rest of this blighted year of ‘21 will sadly, involve trips to the greengrocer.

Such a shame as the dreaded disease destroyed an old tasty favourite Rosella and a new tom on the block the striped plum Shimmer, which I can commend as thoroughly delicious.

I look with envy at Bill Moore’s photograph of what happens if you put 21 tomato plants in an unblighted 8x6 greenhouse — crawling in to pick up to 5lb a day.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Bill Moore's impressive tomato forest.

So, the question is what to do about blight in mine and other people’s houses. Really, the answer after the banning of all chemical controls such as Bordeaux mixture, is very little.

Green chutney made from unblighted fruit is one answer but I have limited capacity for that.

Breaking off the diseased leaves and branches slows the spread but it only postpones the inevitable depressing browning which quickly spreads to foliage and fruit.

Diseased plants should, as a precaution, either go on the bonfire, be deeply buried, or put in green waste where high composting temperatures at the local tip will destroy the fungal spores.

My windblown disease came from just one infected outdoor plant I had not spotted in the plot.

As a precaution I will be weed-torching the surface of the soil, changing it and wiping down glazing with Jeyes Fluid over winter.

As  a belt and braces fix, next year I recommend planting blight resistant varieties, not a 100 per cent guarantee, but certainly a step in the right direction.

Isle of Wight County Press:

The late blight on Richard's tomatoes.

But, be careful if you don’t want a greenhouse like Bill’s, by avoiding ‘determinate’ varieties which are designed to grow as a bush and are not highly suitable for growing indoors if you like things neat and tidy.

One such is the Losetto cherry cascading bush tom. I have tried it in the past and can recommend the sweet tasting fruits produced in some abundance.

Crimson Crush is another F1 I can recommend. It too is blight resistant and produces very large tomatoes outdoors or in and is a manageable indeterminate. Mountain Magic F1 is one I have not tried, but I definitely will!

This indeterminate variety is said to produce medium size fruits and is resistant to early and late blight as well as cracking, verticillium and fusarium wilt.

The tomatoes are described as “sweet and succulent with a high sugar content and real tomato zing.” Just my thing

Fight the blight by:

  • Keeping tomato leaves dry and ensuring the greenhouse is well-ventilated.
  • Water in the morning so that plants are not standing in excess water overnight.
  • Remove some of the lower leaves (by pulling off, not cutting) if they show any signs of infection.
  • Avoid cross contamination to healthy plants by washing your hands.

Or, move to Spain, Italy or the South of France, if it’s not too dry and destroyed by wildfires...


  • Prune all summer flowering shrubs once they have finished blooming.
  • Keep on top of weeds as they compete with your crops for nutrients and water. This has been an especially problematic year for them, need I say...
  • Ensure top-heavy dahlias are staked to prevent damage. Some of the larger flowering plants are very prone to being blown over.
  • Patio container plants will be running short of nutrient. Feed them fortnightly.
  • Trim any lavender plants after they’ve finished flowering to stop them getting ‘leggy’.

Are you an Isle of Wight gardener with a question, or something you would like to share with Richard? You can email him on: richryde@tiscali.co.uk