Tomato Blight

I grew some of the best-tasting tomatoes ever this year. They were big and delicious and abundant. And then I had a busy week at the end of August and ignored the patch. When I finally got back into the garden this is what I saw:

It’s the first year that I have ever had tomatoes destroyed by tomato blight. It’s a fungal disease that kills the plants and causes lesions on the tomatoes, making them useless. Plants are more susceptible if crowded and if the leaves stay wet. Because it had been so hot, I’d been watering regularly with a sprinkler. But, I’d placed the plants too close together – I had no idea how large and sturdy these varieties were. The combination of crowding and overhead watering did them in. If I had noticed it coming, I would have picked all of the tomatoes at the onset and been able to save most of them. The fungus doesn’t make people sick, and you can cut away and use the good parts. But, all that I was able to harvest were these:

You can see the damaged flesh on that red tomato. Since the green tomatoes had the fungus on them, I wasn’t going to leave them out to ripen, and they weren’t good enough to use as is. But, I knew who would appreciate them.

Pip. He LOVES green tomatoes.

Caper does not.

Which makes his brother even happier.


  1. He appears to have fallen into some sort of ecstatic state in that third photo. The mouth keeps working frantically while the eyes roll back in the head. Actually, isn’t that what sharks do during a feeding frenzy?

  2. I too had a LOAD of tomatoes this year….I seem to get toward the end of producing season tomato worms? They are beyong disgusting and the birds won’t touch them…I pick them off with scissors and hurl them as far as I can…is there any way to avoid them? I know it is a moth? ICK!

    • Tomato horn worms! For such huge creatures they’re hard to see until they eat all of the leaves off. The moth is huge and beautiful. I don’t know why they appear. I had some one year and not again.

  3. Great photos of the boys. I love their expressions. Pip is very happy indeed. Well, they’ll be other opportunities for Caper to get something that his brother does not like. But, for now, Pip got to enjoy the green tomatoes. I’ve heard about worms in tomatoes, but not a fungus. At least they were enjoyed by Pip.

  4. Terry, that damage on the tomato looks more like sun scald to me. I’ve had plenty of blight over the years but it only affected the leaves, not the fruits. Maybe the lack of leaves exposed the fruits to too much sun. Commiserations anyway, although the green ones may ripen eventually (but not if Pip has his way!)

  5. I was growing three tomato plants in large pots as I do every year. This year in England we had the wettest summer on record with rain almost every day. My tomato plants got blight and looked just like yours. It was the first year ever that we had no tomatoes. I too tried to save some of the green ones but as they ripened they developed the brown spots and had to be thrown away. Once they have the blight there is nothing you can do,

    Lovely to see that Pip can enjoy them though.

  6. Caper giving the stink eye? Caper thinking, “WHAT are you trying to give me?” Adorable photos of the boys. Thank you for sharing Terry.

  7. Love Pip’s goat ecstasy. Sorry about your tomatoes — they have been very tasty this year — but love the story and pictures. Maybe Caper was a restaurant critic in his prior life???

  8. Did you hear that O’Hare Airport (Chicago) is looking for a small herd of traveling goats (complete with shepherd) to keep some of the grass mowed on the outer skirts of the runways? I wonder if they furnish earplugs for the goats!!!

    • Yes, I saw the article. I liked the line that said that there was no danger of the goats getting on the runway because “there’s a fence.” Hah! But, goats do make so much sense to trim weeds on the sort of sloping, inaccessible field that they need to clear.

  9. I am certainly enjoying your site. My father raised chickens and biddies in our back yard in the city when I was a child. That was many many years ago. His partner in chicken raising was the nextdoor neighbor. They both worked at tobacco factories. They came home one day and all the biddies had managed to escape and they were all over the neighborhood. :-)
    About tomatoes, I grew them for years and had several years where the crop was destroyed by blight. That fungus stays in the soil so you need to dig a new bed away from the old one and be sure to bottom water. I plant mine in large cages made from rabbit wire. I also use black plactic as a mulch.