Diary of an Average Gardener

Tomato Early Blight

– Posted in: Garden Tips and Info

Early Blight

early blightEarly Blight affects tomatoes and other garden vegetables (peppers and potatoes). Blight is a fungus which lives in the soil and is not easily removed, especially here in the South where the winters are not typically cold enough to kill the fungus.blighted stem

Early Blight typically starts at the bottom of the plant and untreated will work its way to the top. Blight can affect both the plant and the fruit.

I do check my garden for just such conditions every day. After I took care of the Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus, I didn’t find any issues for several days. Then TSWV seemed to be under control with no new plants being affected. Then low and behold…Early Blight. I thought maybe I would avoid it this year because it had been so cold over the winter and I put the tomatoes and peppers in a new raised bed.  Alas, I was not so lucky.

I have been dealing with blight for the past few years. It is recommended to move your garden to another spot and then treat the infected area over the next year. Well, that’s a great idea if you have multiple places to put your garden, but I don’t. I have one long narrow spot that gets enough sun. So, I deal with blight as best I can.

Getting Rid of Early Blight

blight front backEach Fall I make sure to remove all the vegetation from my garden. I do not put it into the compost pile. I get rid of it in plastic bags.  Then I till the garden as deeply as I possible can. This aerates the soil which exposes the fungus to the air and sunlight which helps to kill the fungus.

During the growing season when I find blight starting, I spray the vegetable garden with an organic copper fungicide. I’m not necessarily an organic gardener but this spray will end up on the fruit as well as the leaves. Although copper is copper, it makes me feel better since I’m going to eat that fruit. Make sure to saturate each plant whether it is infected or not. The copper fungicide isn’t getting rid of the fungus, it is simply giving the plant the tool to prevent the fungus from spreading. If I was smart, I wouldn’t wait until the plant was already showing signs of blight….I would spray well in advance.  I spray once a week and after it rains. At this point I have the blight under control.

I still go out every day and cut off leaves that have any kind of spot on them.  When removing leaves, it is very important to dispose of them properly. DO NOT just throw the leaves on the ground or in your compost pile. Put them in a garbage bag and remove them from your garden area. This a fungus and if you leave the debris around on the ground the fungus will continue to spread and it will find a home in your soil and live to infect your plants again next year.

To see full sized versions of these pictures, view them in the Picture Gallery.



Jane Smith June 30, 2014, 3:44 pm

Your pictures are improving.

Lou August 16, 2014, 1:11 pm

This is an update: Early blight can affect the fruit, so take care of it early. So, far none of my fruit has been infected with the blight. A friend suggested that perhaps I had septoria leaf spot. However, after studying pictures and descriptions of both diseases, I still think I had early blight. The spots were varied in shape and size, more yellow, less brown. Septoria spots (based on the pictures) are smaller, brown, more of them, and may have growths (called fruits) in the center of the spots. Spots may also be on stems and blossoms. Some good news…with early blight, only the green fruit is affected. If you leave the fruit on the vine it will still turn red. Check out the pictures in the Picture Gallery page for examples