Tomato Blight – It’s My Garden I’ll Cry If I Want To

Garden

I grew tomatoes from seed this year (left side of photo and upper top of photo), nurtured them and watched them grow from seedlings into 7-8 foot tall strong and sturdy plants bearing lots of tomatoes, most of which still had to ripen. I look forward to tomatoes more than anything in the garden and my first taste of Caprese salad once again this summer was earth altering. There is nothing quite like the taste of your own home-grown tomatoes picked just that day. I made one batch of fresh salsa and reveled in the favors of fresh tomatoes, onions and cilantro. I made a couple of sandwiches with a thick slice of red ripe tomato from the garden.

THEN … without much of a warning my tomatoes came to an abrupt halt within a matter of days!! My beautiful, healthy tomato plants were dying a quick death!!!Late tomato blite Late tomato blight hit and hit hard. I’ve grown tomatoes for 10 years and have always been blessed by healthy vigorous plants. … Until this year. Wow … It is quite a shock to see such healthy plants die and whither a quick death.Late tomato blight As I looked at my plants for some silly reason an old song came into my head “It’s My Party” and the chorus goes “it’s my party, I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, you would cry too if it happened to you.”  Do you know the song I mean? Well, always trying to look at something positive I turned it into “it’s my garden and I’ll cry if I want to” and put a funny spin on it. That worked for all of a few moments. Sigh ….

I got to work and pulled my plants out, stuffing them into black garbage bags. I filled up 2 55 gallon bags with my beloved tomato plants and then sat down and looked at the empty earth. I must confess that sitting there, at that moment, I did feel tears falling down my cheeks. If you’re a gardener … You get it. 

On the positive side, I did end up with 4 grocery bags full of green tomatoes.  I plan to make some salsa verde for canning and I’m hoping the others will ripen and I can still make tomato sauce and red tomato salsa.

What I Learned:

I read a lot and learned way more than I ever wanted to know about late tomato blight!  I learned that late tomato blight is transmitted through the air and can travel miles and cross state lines.  It was responsible for the Irish potato famine of the 1800s.  I learned that the weather Ohio had this summer played a huge part in late tomato blight with a lot of rain and except for one week of exceptionally hot weather, for the most part it was a cooler summer.  I learned that late blight also affects the tomato itself and not just the stalk and the leaves.  I learned that once your plants have blight it is next to impossible to save them, blight spreads FAST!!  I garden organically so I am torn as to whether I would use preventative measures next year if we had the same kind of weather, but leaning to taking a chance and not using chemicals.  Following are some photos to help identify late tomato blight:

Late Blight on Tomatoes

Late blight first appearing on leaves

late blight on tomatoes

and progresses to the bottom photo quickly!Late blight on tomato plant

Affected tomatoes look like this:

Tomato affected with late blight

One basket of 4 containers of green tomatoes:

photo (5)

I also learned that I never want to experience late tomato blight again!

It was a very, very sad evening in the garden.  But … there is always next summer and I plan on growing tomatoes again … after all, you can’t have a garden without tomatoes and I’m optimistic that next summer will be blight free!

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14 thoughts on “Tomato Blight – It’s My Garden I’ll Cry If I Want To

  1. I am so sorry to learn about your tomatoes. Yes, I too would have tears, lots and lots of tears, running down my cheeks. I am keeping a close eye on my plants as late blight has been reported in Westchester County which is south of us, fingers crossed. Fortunately we gardeners are an optimistic bunch and know there is always next year.

  2. Have you tried hydroponics??? It cuts down significantly on disease and insects. You can also regulate the watering schedule to insure your plants thrive. I started tomatoes from seed here in the Rockies while everyone laughed. Had great results. My only problem was hail, but with hydroponics, the plants are light enough to move freely.

  3. Oh my goodness. I am mourning the loss of your tomatoes with you. We are having a difficult tomato growing season here in the Pacific Northwest too and I’m concerned I will end up with loads of green ones too. Not from blight but from lack of sun! You have great optimism. 🙂 Maybe you can blog about your salsa verde?

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment. I do see some of my tomatoes ripening on the counter and I’m glad at least I was able to have one batch of salsa and a few tomatoes before I had to pull them! 🙂 Despite this awful tomato blight … I do love gardening!

      • I was told if your tomatoes are still green on the stalk and it’s getting heavy, then to cut the entire stalk, hang it upside down, then the tomatoes will turn red after a week. Not sure if this is true as haven’t tried it myself, but I do have a couple of stalks that are fairly tipping over from all the tomatoes growing on them! Maybe yours will turn red after all!

      • Thank you for the tip and taking time to comment. 🙂 Sadly, a lot of my green tomatoes are developing blight spots on them and have to be thrown out. There is always next year and hopefully no blight! 🙂

  4. Just pulled my plants out just through them away in a plastic bag. Nice plants dead in four days. Should I plant again next year of change locations etc. Help!

    • Awe … that is so sad … I know the feeling all too well!! If you plant next year definitely plant in a different location as late blight can “overwinter” which means it stays in the soil. I had late blight two years in a row and none since … thank goodness. I’m sorry you lost your tomatoes!

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