Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I Got the Blight!

It was a sad day in my garden yesterday. I had to pull up and destroy my Tennessee tomato plants


last night after getting home from playing a round of golf at Oak Hills Golf Club.

The Northeast and Midwest tomato plants have been fighting off Late Blight all season. Late Blight is the fungus that caused the Irish Potato Famine. Late Blight can affect any of the nightshade family plants like potatoes and tomatoes. It rots the fruit of the plants from the inside out and causes the plants to wilt and die. It most often strikes during really cool and wet springs and summers and this year definitely qualifies for that.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to protect my tomato plants by treating them with anti-fungal powders and keeping my eye out for any signs of the blight, it took hold in my Tennessee plants. They were fine on Saturday but by Monday I noticed the tell tale sign of large black rotten spots on the bottom of some of the fruit.


So, after picking off the small tomatoes that weren't showing any sign of rot to make fried green tomatoes for dinner,


I uprooted the plants, stuffed them in black garbage bags and left them lying out where they will cook inside the bags during the day today. Apparently cooking the plant kills the disease and will prevent it from being spread. You can't compost these plants so I have to throw out the bag with the rest of the garbage.

Luckily, so far, the two plants Weedhopper picked up for me at a local plant sale aren't showing any signs of blight yet. I have my fingers crossed as both have lots of fruit on them.

I suspect that farm fresh tomatoes are going to be in short supply all over the eastern part of the country this summer.

So, enjoy any red ones you get. They are going to have to last us until next summer...

Update on Wednesday 7/29: Today's New York Times food section has a good article on the late blight and how it will effect prices and possible affect the potato crop too.