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 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. 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 first appearing on leaves
Affected tomatoes look like this:
One basket of 4 containers of green tomatoes:
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!