Healthy tomato plants in my greenhouse
I know I’m going to have rotten tomatoes aimed at my head for saying this, but I never had blight in my old garden.
It wasn’t that I was doing anything special to avoid it, but rather a lucky combination of circumstances. I’m not the biggest fan of tomatoes, so I don’t grow many.
The ones I choose tend to be cherry tomatoes, ripening early in the season and avoiding the dreaded ‘Smith Periods’ of summer, when blight is rampant.
When I did grow maincrop tomatoes, they were safely tucked away in my greenhouse. And, since none of my neighbours grew tomatoes, blight spores just weren’t flying in my direction.
Allotment potatoes affected by late blight
I didn’t grow tomatoes on my allotment, but I did grow potatoes. I deliberately chose blight-resistant Sárpo potatoes, and had the sense not to look too smug when my neighbour’s crops were cut down by blight but mine weren’t.
If your garden tomatoes have fallen to blight in the past, then the only real solution is to grow blight-resistant varieties.
The only problem is that blight (more properly known as late blight, and caused by an organism called Phytophthora infestans that used to be considered a fungus, but which is now classed as an oomycete) evolves.
The strains that are attacking our tomatoes and potatoes now aren’t the same ones from a century or two ago. So plant varieties that used to have some resistance to blight can quickly lose it – and the first you’ll know is when they start to show those tell-tale splotches.
Blight-resistant Crimson Crush (left), from Suttons
But this year, outdoor tomato growers stand a fighting chance of harvesting a healthy crop, thanks to some serious science and breeding work.
A collaboration between the Sarvari Research Trust (home of Sárpo potatoes), Bangor University and independent tomato breeder, Simon Crawford has led to the development of Crimson Crush.
This new variety of tomato has two blight-resistant genes, which gives it excellent resistance to the strains of blight we have to deal with now.
Healthy fruits on Crimson Crush
Crimson Crush is available exclusively from Suttons.
It’s an indeterminate (cordon) variety, which will need support and you’ll need to pinch out the side-shoots as they appear. It has been bred for outdoor growing, and provides “exceptionally fine tasting, large, round tomatoes (each weighing up to 200g)”.
Order Crimson Crush plug plants now, at £9.99 for 3, with deliveries in April or May.
If you’ve struggled with blighted tomatoes in recent years, why not give Crimson Crush a try this summer?
Newsflash: Crimson Crush seeds are now available! Click through to see the whole of the Crimson Crush range.
Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with Suttons, who provided the images of Crimson Crush. The words are my own.