Monty Don: ‘Best defence’ for outdoor tomatoes as ‘risk of blight increases’ in July

Gardeners' World: Monty Don removes shoots from tomatoes

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Sharing advice in his latest blog post, gardening expert Monty Don shared a list of jobs to do in July, including protecting outdoor tomatoes. The gardening expert wrote: “I do not plant my outdoor tomatoes until June. But once they are in the ground they will grow strongly and need regular tying up.

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“This is, of course, if you are growing cordon tomatoes rather than bush or determinate varieties.

“The latter can be propped up rather like a herbaceous plant rather than tied regularly in.”

Monty also recommended pinching out the side shoots before watering them.

He added: “I do not feed the outdoor tomatoes as our soil is plenty rich enough and they had a good mulch of compost just before planting.

“The indoor tomatoes will have a weekly seaweed feed at the same time.”

The gardening expert said throughout July, the “risk of blight increases”.

Tomato blight is a disease that attacks the foliage and fruit of tomatoes.

It can be detrimental to the fruit, causing rotting.

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Blight is most common in warm, wet weather and in some years can cause almost total yield loss.

Tomato cultivars grown outdoors are particularly susceptible.

Monty wrote: “The best defence for outdoor tomatoes is good ventilation and stripping off the lower leaves as the fruit develops helps this.

“Also help the ripening tomatoes to have maximum sun exposure.”

Symptoms of tomato blight include a rapidly spreading rot which soon collapse and turn brown.

Brown lesions may also develop on the leaf stalks and stems.

In a recent episode of Gardeners’ World, Monty also recommended removing side shoots from tomato plants this month.

He explained how it can help the fruit to produce “trusses of fruit.

Monty said: “At this stage of the year, it is really important with cordon tomatoes to remove the side shoots.

“These are the shoots that grow at 45 degrees between the stem and the leaf.

“The side shoot grows out at an angle.

“Because they are at 45 degrees, they’re very vigorous and they do bear fruit, but not as much as the shoots that come off the main stem.

“You can just pinch them out.”

Monty said if you do this job regularly, the side shoots will never get too big.

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