Thursday, July 28, 2011

Around the Yard: Blight

Blight. Such an ugly word. It sends shivers up and down my spine. Last year, we harvested only a handful of tomatoes before we lost all of our plants and their fruit to blight. Blight is also what caused the Irish potato famine: when it strikes, it moves quickly. The leaves curl, turn yellow and black and spotty, and eventually the plant dies. The fruit, once touched with blight, will also rot as it ripens, even if it looks fine when you pick it.

Early blight, late blight, fire blight... there are many different types affecting many different plants. Blight travels through the air, and it thrives under windy, damp and/or humid conditions - exactly the kind of weather we have been experiencing here in Southeastern Saskatchewan. Apparently, the spores do not survive the frost, so that means that each year it is brought to us on the air currents of somewhere else.

Last week, I was in denial when I saw the curled up leaves. This morning I had a good cry - the signs can no longer be ignored: 60+ tomato plants and all of them are infected with blight. I started every one of them from seed back in March. It is such a sad, sad thing to know that this huge bounty of fruit will end up in the garbage unless I can find a natural remedy to save them.

My mother-in-law tells me that they never used to have problems with blight here. Growing enough food was as simple as throwing seeds in the ground. Today, gardening has become challenging. Many people tell me they have simply stopped trying to grow tomatoes. Growing tomatoes in a greenhouse seems to be the only surefire way to avoid blight. Maybe Santa will find me an acreage with a greenhouse next year...

Aside from the blight, which we suspect has also affected our fruit trees, the rest of our garden is growing. Here is how our garden is growing this week (you can check out last week here):

The summer's first taste of raspberries!

 Our first bowl of snow peas!

U-pick strawberries of the kent variety. Our little patch is of everbearing 
strawberries, which will produce a harvest two to three times a 
year, but just enough for a bowl every day.

Chioggia beets.

Carrot thinnings.

Our first sour cherry.

Bachelor buttons.

Blue podded peas.

 Cucumbers are climbing.


How are things in your garden this week?


COB said...

So sorry about the blight. That is just awful.

A couple of years ago blight in the Northeast US was crazy and our CSA farm found out that it had come from those walmart and home depot tomato plants. Home gardeners experienced blight that year and it spread to the farms. It was devastating. Where did you get the seeds? Perhaps they were infected with the blight? Also, is it possible that the blight survived the winter in the soil? Does it even work like that?

Shanon Hilton said...

Thanks for your words. Some of the seeds are old, and they have produced fine tomatoes for years! Some are new though, and came from Prairie Seeds in Saskatchewan. It never occurred to me that they might have come from them. However, blight has arrived in Saskatchewan - I'm not the only one affected - so I doubt the seeds are the source.

According to the information I learned in a seminar last winter, blight doesn't overwinter here anyway. But, we get crazy wind storms, so my understanding is that it travels to us from places where it does over winter.

It's so unfortunate! I'm experimenting with homemade remedies now... hopefully and the first application will go on today. Finger's crossed!

Julie said...

Oh, I want some of the beets and carrots. Just beautiful!

Kateri said...

We had tomato blight for the first time two years ago. It was the most devastating disease I've ever seen--one day the tomato plants where green and healty and the next day they where brown and dead. I hope you find a solution to the problem!

The rest of your veggies look so good! I've never heard of blue peas--so off to google them!

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

Nice colourful harvest! I like your carrot thinnings.

Leesha said...

wow, what a crop! I love those carrot thingy's~

Pam said...

One of my pepper plant's leaves are all curled. I hope that's not what it is. Thanks for linking up to Garden Tuesday.

Daphne said...

I lived through the blight that hit the Northeast US in 2009. My plants were all infected but I did get a decent harvest. I did the same things I'm doing for my peppers which are infected with bacterial spot (which can't live up here either, but was brought in on infected plants from the nursery). I spray with Serenade every week (it is a biological fungicide, it is a bacteria). For the tomatoes I was out once or twice a day and picked and bagged any leaves with signs of blight. If the stem got it, it was lopped off. You have to be ruthless with the plants and very very vigilant. Any spores that you let get into the air will just make matters worse. I also spray the tomatoes early on in the season with worm tea and aspirin. The aspirin supposedly turns on some gene that helps to fight disease. Oh and don't let any new fruit set. Just try to get the fruit you have to ripen. Good luck. Blight really does suck. With hot weather you could be OK for a while if you are really vigilant, but once the cooler weather hits or the nights get cool dewy things get bad fast. So I'll be hoping for hot dry weather for you.

Barb said...

We had the blight in our area last year, but it didn't affect my plants. Phew!

I love the colors of the carrots and the beets. Such lovely round rings. I keep saying that I'm growing more heirloom varieties next year - I can't wait to get my Fedco catalog in January. Though, I wish they had color pix. Oh, well.

Thanks for sharing your update at A Life in Balance?

Jean said...

Amazing harvest!

Wearinbeads said...

My tomatoes all have curly and whithered leaves. I don't know if it is blight or wilt. I just fertilize and water and hope it grows faster than the leaves get taken. But the rest of your garden is so lovely.

Swathi said...

Last week just in 5 minutes wind I lost a plant which I was dream to get some seeds out of it. You have a wonderful garden. thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop.

Anonymous said...

Oh sorry about the blight. Everything else looks yummmmy.

Shanon Hilton said...

Thank you to all for your posts and thank you Daphne for your suggestions. I appreciate reading all of your comments!