Saturday, August 22, 2009

Late Season Blight


We found evidence of late season tomato and potato blight in our garden early this evening. We are in good company as the blight has impacted farms and gardens throughout New England this year. We've been hearing of others who have lost their much loved tomatoes too early in the season to enjoy a single juicy red ripe delicious beauty. This morning at the farmer's market, we talked with a farmer who lost his entire crop overnight earlier this year. He repeated what we've read in the paper; that a large supplier out of Alabama sent diseased plants north this spring supplying big box stores with starts. Unsuspecting gardeners planted these starts and then the rain started, and continued to fall for much of June and July creating perfect conditions for the blight to spread, and it has spread far and wide.

This topic has been filed under "really interesting" in our minds; we've discussed it at length. It illustrates interconnected issues including global warming, industrial agriculture vs buying local, and crucially, will we be eating tomatoes this year?

In response we cut off all of the greens from our potatoes and put them in plastic garbage bags. One plant was all mush and stunk! Another had a large patch of spore underneath the leaves. Otherwise the plants seemed okay and we hope we caught it early enough to save the tubers (the disease is systemic so it moves from leaves to stems to tubers/fruits). We removed two tomato plants and carefully removed impacted leaves from others. A Cornell website suggests that if we stay on top of it and it is sunny, we might be able to nurture the plants along. We'll see. We are very lucky in that a lot of our fruit is ready to pick and we have plan to can tomorrow.

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