Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Tomato Blight Revisited

The tomato blight continues to spread through the Northeast U.S.

Like some other organic gardeners and growers (we aren't truly organic, but try to be mindful of everything we do), we resorted to an "organic" copper fungicide spray which we have never used before. The results? Some of our plants have survived and are starting to set fruit. The winners in this battle seem to be two varieties: a hybrid variety called Better Boy and a more unusual (I don't know if it is an official "heirloom" variety called Brown Cherry. It was our first year growing the latter. We lucked out.

The question will be (assuming these survive) if the fruit can ripen before the first frost. Today, we are back to the torrential rains.

Fortunately we stopped growing potatoes several years ago, for reasons unrelated to disease.

I'm glad we visited the Union Square farmers market last Labor Day to see the wonderful tomatoes down there because it sounds like we'd be lucky to find anything much there this season.

Next year we will pay especial attention to varieties resistant or tolerant to late blight-and see if it makes a difference. This should be a cautionary note, however, to those who think that commercial agriculture is the answer to everything. We can all survive without tomatoes (sob) but this could have been so much more serious. And interesting that one of our "heirlooms" apparently survived - did other heirlooms survive to bear fruit? I'd be curious to know.

We Americans take so much for granted, including our bounty of food; we must recognize how fragile our food supply system really is and how easily a widespread blight could produce unspeakable consequences. (And now, off my soapbox.)

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