Botrytis cinerea

Had a lovely day at Harlow Carr, a Royal Horticultural Garden near Harrogate in North Yorkshire. It was a grow-your-own event, so amongst other stands there was one where gardeners could ask for expert advice.

I had already told the friend who was accompanying me about the possibility of fennel affecting my tomatoes and she suggested that I ask at this stand about what might be going on in my garden. What I hadn’t expected was the response I got.

It seems that my tomatoes have been infecting by the fungus Botrytis cinerea. This causes the plants to collapse and the fruit to rot.



The mould spores are airborne and plants are susceptible in humid weather at any time in the season. The good news is that the tomatoes are still edible but they will not keep. However, both they and the plants cannot be disposed of in the compost heap.

So, thanks to my friend, I hope that I can avert a mini disaster. Tomorrow I will pick the tomatoes that are on the vine and get rid of the plants. It is at least the end of the growing season but I do hope that my actions are enough to stop damage to crops next year, not only to tomatoes but other fruit such as strawberries and broad beans. The latter, I now realise, were also affected by the fungus this year and these plants were unfortunately composted. So perhaps I need to have a radical rethink about what I do in the garden next year 😦

One final note is that the advisor at the RHS stand was a little cynical about the concept of companion planting. He didn’t want to say it was impossible for the fennel to have a negative effect on the tomatoes but he clearly thought it was unlikely.

As a member of the RHS, I think in future I will go straight to them for advice rather than relying on the internet. Looks like this is a big lesson learnt in more ways than one!

© Helen Butt, October 2013

About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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2 Responses to Botrytis cinerea

  1. bridget says:

    Asking a conventional gardener about something alternative like companion planting is like asking a GP about homopathy.

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