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This is about Florence fennel and tomatoes

Ariege/Midi Pyrenees, France Fr

I live in France and for three years have tried to grow tomatoes with little or no success. Mainly the plants, sometimes after tomatoes have appeared, sometimes before, start to turn black and to rot, what am I doing wrong?

Also, I have lots of Florence fennel this year which does not appear to be 'bulbing'. Can anyone offer any solutions/suggestions please.



No idea about the fennel but you are getting blight on your tomatoes. Do you plant them in the same place each year?

14 Aug, 2009


No, not really, we try different places as well as places we have used before, just to experiment. We also get the problem with the ones we try to grow in pots. They start out ok and then the black starts to appear and spread rapidly. This makes me think it is the soil but the ones in pots are put in fresh soil/compost which we buy in bags.

We did wonder if the soil from previous years which finds its way to our compost heap is re-infecting the soil, but that does not account for the behaviour of the potted plants.

14 Aug, 2009


With tomato blight you need to destroy, not compost, the total plant and also dispose of the growing medium if they are in pots. Do you give the pots you grow the tomatoes in a good scrub with jeyes fluid or something similar before you use them again the next year. If you don't this could be the source if the infection. Ask around to see if your neighbours have problems with blight and what they do to counteract. If you regularly have hot humid summers you are likely to have problems.

14 Aug, 2009


thanks for that, yes we do have humid summers but the tomatoes that we see growing around us do not seem to have this problem.

14 Aug, 2009


As for the fennel: are you keeping the soil moist and well drained? are you sure its "florence" fennel? Is it in semi-sun?

Mine did fantastically well (against my expectations) and this is what I did

Sandy rich soil, semi-shade, sown in cells in late spring in warm place, transplanted in early summer, no fertiliser applications, kept the soil moist with thorough waterings if dry

14 Aug, 2009


Thank you. It seems we are meeting all the criteria you mentioned. It is most definitely Florence fennel as I brought the seeds back with me from UK and nurtured them myself. We have loads of lovely feathery bits a mile high but it does not look like the bits in the soil are bulbing. Are we a bit premature?

14 Aug, 2009


We live in France too (Pays de la Loire) and for the last two summers our tomatoes were badly blighted too. But this year there's been no problem because the weather has been dry and sunny. Hasn't that been the case in the Midi Pyrenees this year, or haven't you tried tomatoes this year?
The ones around you growing healthily are probably because the French routinely treat with 'Bouille Bordelaise' or Bordeaux mixture, and sometimes the plants appear to be a blue colour as they've sprayed them so heavily from the time they've planted them. You could do the same or choose one of the blight resistant varieties (available from firms like Graines Baumaux).

As for the Florence fennel, this tends to 'bolt' and go up to seed very easily especially if dry or sown too early in the season. Try sowing it a bit later and growing it into autumn with lots of water.

14 Aug, 2009


Thanks so much for that. We have been having really hot and humid weather here. Next year we may get better tomatoes and it will be thanks to you. As for the fennel, well we will just have to try again next year. We love it.

20 Aug, 2009

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