Blight & Growing Tomatoes in California

Harriet Ells is Good Food’s Supervising Producer.

Back at the end of March, I started this tomato odyssey.  After two years of failed attempts, I decided to get serious.  I bought the seedlings, planted them, watered them and now they are producing!  I actually have tomatoes.  Scott Daigre, my “tomato tutor” came over the other day and checked on my progress.  Here are some notes from the master:

  • Sun: 6 hours is good, 8 is optimal
  • If you have blight (brown colored leaves): remove leaves and apply compost tea (if organic growing)
  • If you’re in containers, fertilize every 10 days, on schedule.
  • New growth at the base is good and means a long season.
  • If bugs are a problem, use a low concentration soap spray
  • Add more dirt and compost mix to the pots.
  • Don’t be afraid to prune the plant.

Listen to all of Scott’s advice this Saturday on Good Food.

At a dinner party the other night, I mentioned that I had a Tomato Consultant, which got lots of eye rolls.  It doesn’t matter what they think; I’m actually growing tomatoes!

  • Aaron

    I grow tomatoes in the NE and just listened to your program. There is always something more to learn about growing tomatoes (and most everything) and today's program proved to be no exception!

    Thank you for the effort and keep 'em coming.

    Aaron C

    • hells

      Aaron – How are your tomatoes doing? I'd love to hear about your experience.


  • Aaron

    I'm growing 10 plants in containers on a super-sunny back deck in Brooklyn, NY. 3 Black Plums, 3 Blond Cherries and 4 Italian Heirlooms (I ordered seeds from Seed Savers Exchange). I started them indoors and then moved them to a cold frame before sending them to their final home in ceramic pots.

    I feed them organic fish/seaweed fertilizer and water them often. I didn't prep the soil as well as I could have. When I lived in NorCal it seemed easy to find a good organics shop to buy soil amendments but I haven't found that place yet here in NYC (although I'm sure it exists).

    I've had aphid problems but that was only when I left them for a friend to watch while on vacation. Upon my return the plants seem to respond well to daily watering and me just sitting there and looking at them. I also brought in several potted ornamentals to attract hungry, meat-eating bugs and that worked nicely.

    I noticed blight (again, after leaving them to my friend) but I cut the leaves back–only a few were affected–and everything seems to be fine. I want to learn more about compost tea–so thanks for that note.

    I haven't gotten too far into the science of soil & water pH but I want to learn. Any news on the best way to do that, suggestions, etc from one of your pros would be great!

    Tomatoes are forming and although the plums started first, the heirlooms have really advanced and are catching up.

    All-in-all I think I'm having a great deal of luck combined with good, consistent weather and a solid genetic strain.

    Thanks for asking!

    Aaron C