Well, here we are in August and I thought it would be a good idea to see what happened to the tomatoes after my earlier blog about late blight. Unfortunately, the story is not a good one, as most of us already know. The disease has been striking home gardens to be sure but crop loss by produce farmers in New England is a more serious problem. Of course, organic farmers were hit the hardest because they cannot use the strong, synthetic fungicides that work best to protect their harvest. Recent figures show that at least 400 farms have been affected by late blight in New England. Plant disease specialists say they believe infected tomato plants sold to home gardeners by big box stores are also responsible for how rapid and extensive the outbreak has been.
Now, there are home gardens that have not been hit by late blight but even for these fortunate gardeners the tomato plants have made it clear that they do not like the weather this year. Plants were affected by the usual fungus problems we get every year but everything was worse this year because of all the rain. And yet some gardens have been perfectly “normal” and will deliver the usual abundance of those long-awaited, mouth-watering, delicious treasures that we wait ten or eleven months to enjoy.
For those unfortunate home gardeners who will harvest no tomatoes this year I share your pain. But look at the abundance of other fruits and vegetables produced in your garden and celebrate the harvest! I am having a bumper crop of zucchini and butternut squash … lettuce and chard has been great (why not with all the rain and cool weather) … peas were fabulous even though I planted them late … and the red cabbage and onions could not have done better. Only my cucumbers are limping along and yes, I am even starting to see eggplants – in abundance. So the tomatoes will have to be a fond memory until next year but the table is overflowing!
Fortunately our crop of grape and cherry tomatoes has been fabulous and we’re still harvesting. I guess we were fortunate as where some of the farmers in the East Greenwich area (as seen at the various farmer’s markets on Monday and Friday). Like most people I was worried about the blight, but guess we were just lucky (and we’re not neven Irish).
I wasn’t affected by late blight either. I did start all of my tomatoes from seed, though, so I didn’t start with blighted plants. I guess that’s the best way to go, even though it takes so much longer.