Thursday, July 4, 2013
Early blight comes early
This photo illustrates three things:
1) Hurray, I did have a ripe tomato by the Fourth of July. Okay, so it's not a big slicer; it's a Sun Gold cherry tomato (on a plant mysteriously labeled Black Cherry. I didn't grow the plant from seed, but I'm not going to throw stones at the person who did, because I'm frequently guilty of mislabeling myself).
2) No, those blue-green things aren't tomato leaves; I've interplanted sweet potatoes with my tomatoes due to lack of space. We'll see how it goes.
3) I have early blight. Well, my tomatoes have early blight, though on these hot humid intermittently-rainy days I sympathize. There's a lot of the fungal disease early blight around this year, due to the weather we've been having. Some years early blight comes late (and late blight comes early; unfortunately it's already been spotted in Maryland this year), but conditions for it are perfect this year and I know from talking to lots of you last weekend, as well as my own experience, that it's out there.
Check out the HGIC page on early blight for photos and description, but here's my summary of what to do if your tomatoes have this disease. First, don't panic. Then, clip out the infected leaves and branches, remove them from your garden (along with any that have already fallen off), and throw them in the trash (only put them in the compost if you employ hot composting). After that, give your plants a good pruning if you haven't already done so (this post tells you about sucker pruning, and I'll emphasize that any branches hanging on or close to the ground should be removed). Pruning opens up the interior of the tomato plant so that more air can circulate and fungal diseases have a harder time taking hold.
All my plants had some blight on them - even the Iron Lady had a tiny bit - but poor Big Mama looked the worst; I hope she holds up! I've done my trimming and pruning, and maybe the rain will stop soon...?