BLIGHT!

Justin alerted me to this article

Plant disease hits eastern US veggies early, hard

CONCORD, N.H. – Tomato plants have been removed from stores in half a dozen states as a destructive and infectious plant disease makes its earliest and most widespread appearance ever in the eastern United States.

Late blight — the same disease that caused the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s — occurs sporadically in the Northeast, but this year’s outbreak is more severe for two reasons: infected plants have been widely distributed by big-box retail stores and rainy weather has hastened the spores’ airborne spread.

Read full article

How are your veggies fairing this growing season?  Better, same or worse than last year?

Coming soon, we tally up our June Harvest – what about you – care to weigh in?  Because of the cooler than normal June I am suspecting the tally will be on the low side.

Comments(20)

  1. Laura @ Laura Williams' Musings says:

    Your “Read full article” link isn’t coded right. It doesn’t work.

    Thanks though for the information. Off to find out more.

  2. Meadowwood Garden says:

    So far we have been spared any signs of blight in Central Ohio. It has been a challenging season due to other factors — mainly consistent rain as mentioned in the article you linked. We ended up with Tomato Leaf Curl early in the season due to overwatering. We stopped supplemental watering totally a couple weeks ago and the tomatoes have taken off again like they are in a race!

    Our eggplants got eaten up as soon as they went into the ground. Just now they are recovering and sporting new growth but they are about 1/4th the size of everyone else’s.

    Striped Cucumber Beetles showed up very early and have been hanging around. We don’t want to spray so we are dealing the best we can — so far the zucchini and yellow squash is unaffected and the cucumbers are growing nicely too. Soon the dreaded Squash Bugs should make an appearance and that will pretty much end the squash/cucumber season.

    Last, Japanese Beetles were a little early and are just now beginning to ramp up big. So far we have kept them to reasonable levels in the garden by handpicking them daily. The birch trees and wild grapevines are another story though — complete devastation in pockets on the property.

    But back to the main question — the only really abnormal thing so far this season is the steady rain and cooler than normal temperatures. Overall I’d say the garden is about 2-3 weeks behind last year due to the weather. We will definitely be keeping an eye out for any signs of blight or other diseases.

  3. Deb says:

    Makes me glad we started our plants from seed in January!

  4. mavis says:

    This is why I think it is so important to learn how to grow your own food (starting from seed)……you never know what can happen.

  5. girlgroupgirl says:

    I have lost all my tomatoes purchased from a single source (not a big box store but a charitable organization) – that source used a variety of seeds, however the soil was mixed with compost. I suspect that last year some diseased material ended up in a compost pile that did not burn hot enough. Every single tomato from that purchased lot has had to be removed from the garden, now I am seeing problems with some of the peppers and eggplants!
    Seeing problems on a tomato very early on, I started more of my own seeds so I can plant elsewhere for late crops…but there are no more eggplant 🙁
    I’ve spent a few days pruning tomatoes so that we can get a good harvest in our communities gardens without spreading more disease.

  6. ce says:

    Here in the Pacific Northwest late blight comes every year. It is carried on the wind. Even if you start your own plants it will eventually find you. Some years it comes early and we lose the crop. In our area it is a challenge to ripen tomatoes. We get most of them in august or some years not till almost september. But we have an abundance of brassica, greens, berries and pom fruit. They seem to grow themselves not matter what type of year we have.

  7. Mary Hysong says:

    It’s hard for me to tell sometimes if the plant has an actual disease or a nutrient deficiency. Either way I think the best thing is of course lots of variety, that way you are covered because _something_ always does well, no matter what kind of year you are having.

  8. DoubleD says:

    We’re having a tremendously good year this year. Since we are in the coastal pacific northwest – blight is a recurring problem during particularly wet years. My heart aches for those that are dealing with it as we have been there and done that too many times. However, this year we are enjoying drier and warmer conditions and consequently the garden is shining. Depending on the year – you win some and you lose some.

  9. Chiot's Run says:

    HM, this makes my conspiracy theory mind run wild with scenarios. I wonder if they’re purposefully selling diseased plants from big box stores to get new gardening disenchanted with the idea of “Grow Your Own” and to spread disease so that the “new & improved disease resistant plant which are patented” become the only things to grow. HMMM.

    My garden is growing better than ever this year. Disease is one of the thing you deal with when you garden organically. Sometimes you lose a few things, that’s whay to plant a little more than you need to make up for things like this.

  10. Kathy says:

    Here in San Diego things are warming up finally, and my plants are responding! Peppers are growing and tomatoes are coming along, although I have voracious sow bugs that are eating my seedlings, so that has slowed things down a bit. I just pulled out my last potato plant; I lost all of them due to some sort of stem borer. I did get some potatoes though! My squash and melons look a bit anorexic (I left them in their starter pots for too long I think), but hopefully they will start going soon. No signs of blight here (yet)!

    This year I started all plants from heirloom seeds and am glad I did!!

  11. Lorie in NJ says:

    Here in South Jersey I started my own seed from heirlooms and lost over 30. Then I bought 50 seedlings from a neighbor who starts his own. I have about five that I have been able to save from blight – so far. I am going to have to grow some extra tomatoes in my basement “green house” this winter to make up for the lack.

    However, all the summer squash, cukes, peppers, winter squash, mellons, lettuces, radishes and herbs are flourishing. They are a little bit behind schedule but looks like they will make up for it with quantity.

    Oh, and all the rain made the strawberries really bland tasting. But they were still better than the ones in the supermarkets!

  12. Monika says:

    Here outside Madison, Wisconsin, I found blight on two of my tomatoes bought from a small local nursery. However, my theory is the blight came from my purchase of a Bonnie plant (Basil) from a big box store-and I should have known better. We’re doing battle with squash borers, but everything else looks good so far.

  13. Susan says:

    Nearly all of my potato plants have died; I got some compost in a bag from the local box store and every single plant that received any of that soil/compost has died. I assumed there was some sort of virus in the soil that killed the potatoes; now I have two tomato plants that are also looking very sad and pale with curled leaves. I sprinkled organic fungicide last week and so far I have no other plants with any symptoms. Hopefully I won’t, either.

    The potatoes were heirloom organic so I know they were certified disease free and the tomato plants either a) I grew from seed or b) were from a local nursery although I did buy some plants from the big box store. Those are in fact doing very well, the suffering plants are one that I grew from seed, and one that came from the local nursery (meaning they were grown from seed here locally).

  14. Sinclair says:

    Mine are okay so far; I am in the Pacific Northwest. Also, I grew my plants from seed. My seeds this year were all organic and heirloom. Hopefully, their health will continue.

  15. Mary Ann says:

    Coastal CT- tomatoes going slow this year- harvested first one July 2 compared to last year- June 20. FYI for New England- Bonnie Plants are sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Walmart in this area. They pulled their toms and peppers out of Depot two weeks ago knowing they had blight. I assume the other places as well. I grow my own from seed with an occasional impulse purchase- a local nursery purchase this year of one Cherokee Purple plant. So far- no blight, but last year I had purchased 2 toms from Depot’s Bonnie stock that had blight. Fortunately- they were in buckets and I saw trouble early on and isolated them til it was clear they were diseased then promptly destroyed them.
    I think I will just keep on growing my own….so much less trouble with stuff like this.

  16. Wendy says:

    The tomato blight has hit both tomatoes and potatoes here in Maine pretty hard – from what I understand. And, as the article indicates, the origin is a greenhouse down south somewhere that supplies big box stores, like Home Depot and that *W* store.

    Luckily, for me, I don’t buy plants at places like that, and even better, I opted not to buy any plants at all, but rather to grow from seed. Unfortunately, with such a small space to grow, I almost always have to supplement with storage crops from the Farmer’s Market and a couple of local farm stands, and potatoes are a mainstay of our winter diet. If our local growers’ potato crop has been compromised, my family might well be in trouble this winter. Hopefully my potato tower experiment will be a success 😉 … or my family will have to learn to like pumpkin and squash instead of potatoes.

  17. Carolyn Messina-Yauchzy says:

    We are located in central NY “the Heart of NY State.” I see this pattern again and again: huge peanut-processing factory, mega-farms in CA, tainted beef from huge slaughterhouses (Go, veggie!) are diseased or contaminated in some way. It goes to follow that huge nurseries that ship all over could spell disaster. IMO it’s not a conspiracy, but short-sightedness and ignorance. Small is beautiful!

    Have personally had much luck in the past with starting my own seeds, but somehow they have not thrived since moving to our current house. Maybe the wet basement, or too cold basement… also wondering if my bulb configuration is different.
    Whatever the case, I’m crossing my fingers, as I use only our own compost, and haven’t bought any veggie plants from big-box stores. Two neighbors started their own from seed; will ask a third neighbor. Heck, I could ask a lot of neighbors; then I might get to know them better!
    I wonder if starting from seed and using only our own compost really would make a big difference. Time will tell! Good luck to gardeners everywhere.

  18. Sherry says:

    Here in Oklahoma we had an early hot spell with temps over 100. It pretty much cooked my cucumbers – the two days without water due to a slab leak didn’t help any either. The vines are starting to sprout new leaves, though, so maybe I will get a few more before it is all said and done. I think another problem we have is improper or lack of polination. I have seen NO bees this year and only a few butterflies. My squash is doing so-so. I’m glad I didn’t invest in all the canning jars I had planned to buy. No enough cucumbers to pickle by any stretch of the imagination. My tomatoes are doing okay but splitting. My okra is coming up well and my purple hull peas are putting out pods finally. My lettuce and swiss chard was a bumper crop. Dill was very productive, too.

  19. Heather says:

    I’m in MA and started everything from seed. The compost is mine and we’re doing well. I have several neighbors that garden as well. Two got their plants either from me, or from the local nursery. The third got his from the local nursery and has had issues with his tomatoes. He ripped out the first batch and planted again, but they are doing poorly from all the rain we’ve had. Everyone else seems to be doing well. The garden overall is doing exceptionally well, especially considering the cool and very wet June we had. I have my fingers crossed.

  20. Lori says:

    I had trouble with blighted vine crops last year, and took serious measures to correct my soil between late autumn and early spring.

    After cleaning up all the dead plant debris and getting down to bare soil, I first replenished the nutrients for several months by covering with poultry litter (straw plus manure), which is perfectly balanced in NPK and will not prevent blooms from forming like some overly-nitrogenous manures.

    Late winter / early spring, I removed the spent covering and composted it outside the garden. Next I spread a blend of diatomaceous earth and French clay available from the feed supply store – called Geobond. We also feed it in small amounts to the hens to prevent worm infections.

    That was topped-off with ashes from the woodstove, which are rich in calcium, potassium, etc. It is somewhat saline, so can’t be used every year, except on crops that are calcium hogs (celery, broccoli). The calcium strengthens plant stems, making them more impervious to attack or breakdown of their cell walls. If you don’t have a woodstove, loose charcoal powder is available at organic markets in bulk.

    Composted organic matter was dumped on top of this and double-dug into the soil. This was well-watered and allowed to “percolate” for a couple of weeks before sowing seed. So nothing extra was purchased to correct the soil that we didn’t already have on hand.

    Solarizing the soil can also be done to sterilize it, but it takes weeks longer and wasn’t necessary with the above methods. Solarizing kills all beneficial micro-organisms as well, but they quickly recolonize in the garden.

    This year I interplanted two anti-pathogen/anti-parisitic crops among the other produce: artemisia and a potent strain of tall marigolds (tagetes) that are shown to be stronger than some pesticides. Dried cuttings are being hung in the pantry to be worked into the soil next spring.

    Even after the solid month of rain that we had in June here in the Northeast, I have yet to spot any sign of blight in the garden, and all my veggie plants are waist high except for the perpetual strawberries.