A Garden Blog by Kevin Milaeger

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Kevin 2015 

Tomato Disease----What Can You Do?

January 27, 2016     
(See below for archives)

Those of you who have visited Milaeger’s in spring know we have our regular selection of about 200 kinds of vegetable plants that we offer all season long, and also our “Vintage Veggie” (VV) section, which we offer for about ten days in mid-May. Our regular group doesn’t change much---maybe 5% of the varieties are new in a given year. But our VV section is entirely new every year---sixty some varieties. Most of them are tomatoes, since that is by far our most popular vegetable. This year I plan to give special emphasis to disease resistant tomatoes, so I thought you’d like to know how that search is coming along.

In our regular category we are offering at least four that are known for disease resistance: ‘Defiant,’ ‘Celebrity,’ ‘Legend,’ and ‘Goliath Hybrid.’ For this year’s VV section we are looking at quite a few that have that trait (we are especially concerned about blight.) We will field test them this summer, and you can do the same if you have disease concerns. We haven’t finalized our choices yet, but in the running this year are ‘Bella Rossa,’ ‘Iron Lady,’ ‘Mountain Magic,’ ‘Mountain Merit,’ ‘Old Brooks,’ ‘Rebekkah Allen,’ ‘Red Rose,’ ‘Rugged Boy,’ ‘Trust,’ ‘Ultimate Opener,’ and ‘Stone.’

I’m not going to go over the characteristics of each of these (but they are all medium to large red tomatoes)---you can do an easy search, or you can check our site after we finalize our list. (I’ll provide a link in a future blog.) One thing I noticed about this group of plants is that four of these are determinate (bush) tomatoes. You will recall that means they are shorter (usually 36-48” tall), and bear for a shorter period of time, though they still might be heavy producers. Most of these are hybrids. A lot of today’s breeding is being done with the larger farmer in mind, and they prefer determinate varieties. Disease can wipe out an entire crop, so disease resistance is a must for them. They also like easy harvesting---if they can harvest most everything with two or three pickings (sometimes only one) over the course of a few weeks, that would be much easier than picking continuously from July into October, as with indeterminate (vine) tomatoes. Also, smaller plants are much easier to manage---very little support, if any, is needed. All of these “benefits” come at a cost, as you might expect. Many tomato aficionados feel that flavor is compromised much of the time. I’m sure the hybridizers will argue that point, but we’ll let you be the judge, and of course, all of our guests at Tomatomania can sample them all and draw their own conclusions.

Most, if not all, of these disease resistant types are modern hybrids. Some folks claim that the old heirloom varieties (those that have been saved by amateurs for many years, sometimes more than 100) are disease prone. I’m sure that some are. But why would you bother to save seed for 100 years if the variety were disease prone? Just sayin… I think that if you keep a clean garden and follow a few simple rules, you will have pretty good luck with many of the heirlooms, too.

Tomato diseases can perhaps be likened to human maladies. Just because you followed your mother’s instructions---Where’s your hat?---Button up your coat!---Don’t forget your boots!---Let me rub some Vick’s on you!---and the like, doesn’t mean you won’t catch cold. Likewise, the simple act of choosing a disease resistant variety doesn’t mean you won’t have disease problems. That’s why they are called “resistant” instead of “proof.” Even following some of the normal, good gardening practices won’t make your garden disease proof. (By that I mean no watering late in the day or at night, prune bottom branches to improve air flow, keep a clean garden, rotate your crops, and other practices.) But you have to do as much as you can. If you have had disease problems, start with reliable varieties. Then practice good gardening practices, or I’ll have to scold you like your mother used to.

Please email me (kevin@milaegers.com) if you have any questions or comments.



 Archives  (Click on the green text for links)


January 2016 - Tomato Disease --- What can you do?
January 2016 - Tomatoes on my Mind!

November 2015 - My Late Harvest (The tomato picking continues...No Kidding!)

October 2015 - Its Mid-October---the End is Near!

September 2015 - 2015---Not the Year of the Pepper!

September 2015 - Top Varieties at Tomatomania 2015!

September 2015 - Get the most from September tomatoes!

August 2015 - Tomatomania 2015---Coming Soon!

August 2015 - Oh No!!!......Freaky Tomatoes

July 2015 - A Marvelous Community Garden

July 2015 - Finally----the first ripe tomato

July 2015 - Is it Possible to overdose on peas?

July 2015 - The Garden in July --- I'm still planting!

June 2015 - And Just When Things Were Looking So Good...

June 2015 - Tomatoes, Cukes, and a Whimsical Onion

June 2015 - Trials and Tribulations in the Veggie Garden!

May 2015 - Trouble in Tomatoland!

May 2015 - Tomatoes are Claustrophobic

May 2015 - A Little Chilly, but it's Rhubarb Time!

May 2015 - Joan's Rhubarb Torte Recipe

April 2015 - "Ketchup and Fries" plant video

April 2015 - Early May in the Vegetable Garden

April 2015 - What Vegetables Can I Plant Now?

April 2015 - Making Salad Interesting

March 2015 - Ready... set... GROW!

March 2015 - Unusual Potatoes --- Not Just for Tots Anymore!

February 2015 - Next Month is Spring!

February 2015 - Greens to Grow 2015


September 2014 - Tomatomania Review 2014!

September 2014 - Tomatomania Results by Category or Cummulative

August 2014 - Kale! Kale! The Greens are Here! Click here for Recipe

August 2014 - The August Harvest Begins

July 2014 - Greens to Grow for Fall!!!  Click here for Spreadsheet

July 2014 - My Tomatoes are Blushing

June 2014 - Some Tomato Concerns

May 2014 - Garden Update --- the Cold Weather Experiment

May 2014 - Is it Time to Plant Tomatoes?

May 2014 - Vintage Veggies #4 and Vintage Veggies List 2014

April 2014 - A Chilly Spring... What Can I Plant Now?

March 2014 - Start Growing Your Own Food Right Now

February 2014 - Greens to Grow   Click here for Spreadsheet


October 2013 - Keep Calm and Garden On!

October 2013 - Autumn Vegetables

September 2013 - Tomato Popularity Poll Results Blog

September 2013 - Tomatomania Category and Cumulative Results

September 2013 - Tomatomania 2013 Blog, Video and T-Shirt

August 2013 - Greens to Grow and Spreadsheet

July 2013 - Spaghetti Squash

July 2013 - New Tomato and Zucchini Recipe Blog
July 2013 - Tomato and Zucchini Recipe

June 2013 - Cold Spring - What it Means for Vegetables
May 2013 - Tomatoes in Containers
May 2013 - Vintage Veggies 2013
April 2013 - My Tomato Garden Preview 2013
April 2013 - Don't Forget Rosemary!
April 2013 - It's Planting Time
March 2013 - Onions
March 2013 - Vintage Veggies
March 2013 - Greens to Grow Update
February 2013 - Hot Peppers
February 2013 - Grafted Tomatoes
February 2013 - Greens to Grow

September 2012 - Tomatomania Results
July 2012 - Compass Plant
July 2012 - Heat Wave
June 2012 - Okra
June 2012 - Potato Onion
May 2012 - Gas Plant

May 2012- My Tomato Garden
May 2012 - Vintage Veggie Fest
March 2012 - Growing Raspberries in SE Wisconsin
March 2012 - Winter Tomato Project
February 2012 - Success with Sweet Peppers
February 2012 - Vegetable Cukes Miniature
January 2012 - Tomatoes New Varieties

September 2011 -Tomatomania Review 
August 2011 - Tomatomania Preview
August 2011 - Racine Vegetable Garden Tour
Summer 2011 - Vegetables in my Garden
July 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
June 2011 - Vegetables - Diseases made Simple
June 2011 - Vegetables - Container Growing
May 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
April 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Event Preview
March 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Announcement

September 2010 - Tomatomania Review 
August 2010 - Flowers Late Summer Color
July 2010 Vegetables Cukes and Tomatoes
June 2010 Tomatoes New Varieties

September 2009 - Tomatoes End of Season Review 
September 2009 - Tomatomania Review
July 2009 - Tomatoes General and Fruit Set Problems
June 2009  - Tomatoes Fertilization
June 2009  - Tomatoes Personal Experience
May 2009 - Tomatoes General
May 2009 - Tomatoes Diseases
May 2009 - Tomatoes Selecting and Growing
April 2009 - Tomatoes General

Any questions or comments, please contact us at: gardenquestions@milaegers.com