No doubt by now everyone has heard of the blight that has been ravaging tomato patches throughout the country. Despite our hopes of avoiding its catastrophic grasp, it made its way to our gardens this past week.
We had many things going in our favor in our attempt to be "blight free":
--we started all our own plants
--we grew only heirloom varieties, no hybrid plants
--we added nothing "off farm" to our garden (all fertilizers were from our own animals)
--we live in a valley and are usually 5-10 degrees colder, which was in our favor
--the blight hit farms around the state for over a month, and we had no signs of its presence
Alas, given the ability of the blight to travel several miles by air, ultimately we had no chance.
Here is a shot of some of the tomatoes a day before we discovered blight.
Vibrant, healthy plants full of lush tomatoes.
Two days later...
The blight starts at the bottom and quickly works it way up the plant. It is a fungus and spreads rapidly in wet weather, which we have had plenty of this summer.
Erica's first course of action was to pull off the infected leaves and then spray the plants and fruit with natural soap mixtures. She and the kids experimented with several different mixtures. Here is what was left after removal and treatment.
Some close-ups of the infected leaves.
Ultimately, the decision was made to pull all the tomatoes from the vines. Erica brought in more than 300 pounds of tomatoes and there are still some left to gather. Heirloom tomatoes are sold at a premium, especially this year when few have made it through the blight at all. Fetching over $3.00 a pound, many find tomatoes to be one of their more important crops.
Rinsing the tomatoes and washing them with soap mixture helps to rid them of blight and will allow most of them to ripen off the vine. Currently there are hundreds of pounds of tomatoes spread out on tables on the porch.
Day by day, we have to pull the tomatoes that continue to show signs of blight but we are also able to gather the ripe fruit from the table. Hopefully, most of it will survive long enough to ripen. Here are some examples of tomatoes that made it.
The blight has been traced back to seedlings shipped up from the South to large stores like the Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart. One can only wonder if we would be blight-free if more folks started their own seedlings or shopped in local establishments and avoided those large retailers altogether.
Now we're all lamenting the days when the biggest predator was this little guy:
Posted by Chris
@ 10:48 AM EDT