If you have a problem with tomato plants contracting a blight that starts at the bottom and works its way up until the plant is dead, or even the beginning of a blight, you need to cook your garden bed. Once tomatoes are infected, they cannot be helped. The key is solarizing the soil to kill the bacteria before they get to the plants. As soon as you can work the soil, turn the entire bed to a depth of 6 inches, then level and smooth it out. Dig a narrow 4 to 6-inch deep trench around the whole bed and thoroughly soak the soil by slowly running a sprinkler over it for several hours.
Cover the bed with a clear, heavy plastic painters drop cloth. Lay the edges of it in the trench and cover with soil to keep heat from escaping. The sun should heat the area for at least 6 weeks. The longer you leave the cover in place, the better. In the meantime, try growing some of those new verticillium and fusarium-resistant varieties in another location, or in containers of sterile potting soil, as you let your infected tomato bed cook.
This gardening information comes from Veggie Grow How, by Glen O. Seibert, "The Greenman". http://www.backyardlivingmagazine.com/podcasts.aspx
By Connie from Oden, AR
By dano (Guest Post) 02/16/2008
I am going to try your idea and I hope it works. I have to have fresh tomatoes. They are our favorite veggie.
Here are questions related to Preparing Your Soil to Avoid Tomato Blight.
My tomato crop was decimated by blight. The vines and fruit are shrinking, drooping, and rotting. What do we do now that the crop is gone for this year? We have removed all the fruit and vines and destroyed them. Do we treat the soil now with something and dig it down or do we do something next season?
What can we plant there again next year? The nightshade group is tomatoes and eggplant. Can we put them back or must we rotate them? Thanks so much.
Lorraine, This year we had a wet Spring season and it was not good on tomato plants. Just hope next year's planting will do much better. It's not the soil that caused your blight.
Some people have better success raising tomato plants off the ground with the use of wire cones. A lot of people are trying the "pot gardening method" and you can move the pots about as necessary. Also, they can be set higher off the ground. Good luck.