August 11, 2009
The tomato blight in my garden
There's been a lot in the news lately about the tomato and potato crop in the northeastern part of the United States. The problem is late blight, a plant disease that attacks those particular plants. As many of you know, it was an especially cool and wet spring, with those same conditions stretching into summer. Late blight is a fungus, which normally appears late in the summer. However, conditions were quite favorable for this highly aggressive disease to thrive. And thrive it did, as it spread throughout the Northeast in just a few days. Late blight has been devastating to commercial farmers, many losing a large portion of their crop. Backyard growers are suffering as well. I, myself, have lost seventy percent of the fifty different varieties in my garden. Even though I still have tomatoes on the vine, many of the beautiful heirloom varieties, which were planted, never had a chance.
1 As you can see, it's been a terrible season for tomato growers.
2 The tomato plants were grown from seed were hardened off in the cold house in the early spring. They were very healthy seedlings.
3 Shaun decided to set out the plants in early May.
4 He is pointing to how deep the tomato will be planted. Planting them deeply encourages stronger root growth and non-spindly vines.
5 Meanwhile, Wilmer is setting out the bamboo supports.
6 The stakes are brought together at the top, forming a tripod.
7 Wilmer ties the tops securely with twine.
8 Many, many tomatoes and many, many supports
9 Shaun follows Wilmer and digs the holes.
10 It's important to loosen the roots, encouraging them to grown outward.
11 Setting the plant deeply in the hole
12 He then fills in the hole with beautifully composted soil.
13 The tomato plants were very healthy in the early spring.
14 In early July, the harvest looked very promising.
15 However, within a couple of weeks, it was very clear that late blight had attacked.
16 Leaves shriveled and fell.
17 With no leaves, the tomatoes on the vine stopped growing.
18 The growing and ripening process halted and rot set in.
19 Not even a chance
20 A slight ripening but not a chance
21 A beautiful heirloom - gone!
22 More tomatoes - gone!
23 One can only imagine how delicious these might have been.
Photos By Eliad Laskin