Curses!!! It’s back. I was in denial for a week or so, but today it was right there in living color. Or, should I say, withering, rotting, dying color? Last year like so many other gardeners and farmers in the Northeast, my garden was affected by blight. I barely got any tomatoes as they cruelly started ripen and then rot before you could pick them. I made a last ditch effort to try to save them. I bought an organic pro-biotic treatment (sort of like yogurt cultures but for plants) to spray on them and hacked off all the affected leaves. The plants looked really sad by the time I was done – some of them barely had one or two leaves on them and I wondered even if I managed to control the blight if the plants could even live with that much of them shorn off.
None of my efforts really helped. At the end of the season, I hosed the whole garden down again with organic treatment and hoped the disease would be controlled and then frozen over the winter. Over the winter, I started my own plants and it didn’t go well. My seedlings were weak looking and even when I transplanted them to larger vessels they failed to thrive. The last straw was when a wind storm knocked over my whole little plastic mini-greenhouse in late April or early May. I gave up on my seedlings but didn’t give up on growing. I went to the Springfield Farmer’s Market and bought some gorgeous assorted tomato plants. We even moved our tomatoes to a new, sunnier spot in the yard so I hoped if by any chance there was still any disease, at least the tomatoes would be away from the same area as last year.
Everything was going well. The plants were growing well – thriving, even. I even preventatively applied some of the organic treatment. There were already lots of little green tomatoes growing and we were well on our way to a great year. And then I noticed a little bit of yellowing on the leaves. I didn’t think much of it at first. Tomato plants frequently get a little bit of yellowing on the bottom leaves, no big deal, right? And hey, last year they said that all that horrible rain we had in the spring was just conducive to blight and this year has been so much better – sunnier and warmer. Everything is fine, right?
Today, someone I follow on Twitter posted this article from the Hartford Courant. Blight, it seems, is back. And somehow, the conditions this year are good for it too, which I don’t get because as I remember it, this year is nothing like last year. So, this evening I went out to the garden to water (somehow, those storms never came through my town!) and I was all happy when I saw one of my bigger tomatoes already turning orange. I touched it to take a closer look and what did I see?
The bottom end of this beautiful tomato was completely black and rotten. I could have cried. After I cursed and tore at my hair and rendered my garments a bit, I slumped into action. Not jumped, slumped, because although I went through the motions I don’t have much hope it will help. I cut off every yellowed leave from every plant along with the rotten tomato and one other green and rotten one I found. Then I sprayed them all down with the organic treatment. My string bean plants were also not looking healthy so I sprayed them as well as every other plant in my garden.
I couldn’t just leave them alone and do nothing, but as I said, I don’t have much hope. After all, if there was something to be done that really works, wouldn’t all the commercial farmers already be doing it? And, it is the same disease that caused the Irish potato famine, and that certainly didn’t end in a year. How long must my people suffer?
There is a pox upon my garden. Curses.