Yesterday was a pretty sad day for me.
It seems all 60 of my tomato plants have come down with Late Blight.
According to varying websites, Late Blight is a serious disease that spreads very quickly, so all parts of the plant must be ripped out and destroyed (unless you have a thermophilic compost pile... which I don't.) Destroyed as in thrown in plastic garbage bags in the trash or burned.
However, the other gardeners at the farm seem to take the blight as a given. As my plot neighbor said as he pretended to smack me upside the head, "It rained a ton! What did you expect? Where WERE you??"
While I was pretty mopey yesterday, I've had a Blizzard since then (shout out to my dad) and today I think I might've figured out what this debacle means in terms of what I'll do in the garden in the years to come.
*Growing lots of different varieties. That way, one or two varieties might prove resistant to this disease, instead of them all being wiped out.
*No more miss nice Claire. This year I planted every single baby tomato seed that grew (to the tune of 60 plants), but in the future I'll be much more selective. Only the best and brightest, yo. It'll be like the baby seed Darwin Olympics- only survival of the fittest up in here.
*Timing. If I had gotten them into the ground quicker (especially with the Wall-o-Waters) the plants might have gotten to fruit-bearing age faster, giving the tomatoes time to get red before the blight strikes in the fall.
*Spacing the plants further apart. I think they just got too dense in there, so disease could spread easily; it also restricted airflow, which is supposed to help tomatoes ripen.
*Trying some sort of pruning method, from the beginning. Our plants had tons of lush, gorgeous green leaves, but never really got around to making tomatoes for us.
*Pay attention to rainfall!!! That's what I mainly missed this year.
Although the fruit are apparently still edible if you cut off the unappetizing brown parts, ALL of my big tomatoes have the ugly brown spots. I was going to try to ripen them inside but I'm afraid that instead of ripening into lovely, red giants, the brown might just continue to spread, rendering them completely inedible and useless. So for now, I'm trying to forget my dreams of marinara and make myself get excited about tons and tons of salsa verde and chile verde sauce.