Sunday, August 9, 2009

It’s a Sad Day at GrafixMuse’s Garden Spot

This weekend we pulled 20 tomato plants showing signs of Late Blight from the gardens. Most of these were over five-feet tall and had hundreds of green tomatoes on them.

It is difficult to come to terms with how fast Late Blight takes down a plant. Only two days ago, these tomatoes were perfectly fine….lush and green…and still growing to the point that I was thinking of trying to provide more support for them than the flimsy tomato cages I used as these were supposed to only grow 20-inches high.

This is what it looked like just before we put it out of its misery:

K was there with me showing his support and stuffed the diseased tomato limbs that I passed to him into trash bags. Helping me speed things along and get it over with. He knew how difficult this was for me. We were mostly silent except for me mumbling, “look” every now and then as I pointed out leaves and stems with the telltale dark splotches that I have studied online over the past few days. “It’s got to go.” he would reply while lifting the trash bag slightly, encouraging me to place it inside.

The news of Late Blight spreading along the Northeast was announced at the end of June. It is believed that the spread was accelerated by shipments of plants from a commercial grower to the garden departments at many “Big Box” stores.

I poured over the news and pictures at various websites. I gained knowledge and knew what to look for… just in case. I also knew that once your plants show signs of Late Blight, it’s over and you need to pull the plants (Cornell's Late Blight factsheet).

Our plants didn’t come from any of the “Big Box” stores. If they had been infected from the beginning, they would have shown signs much earlier. Instead, the disease probably blew in from another nearby source and attacked just when the plants were finally making progress after the rainy summer we have experienced.

I keep a pretty good watch over the garden. I inspect it at least once a day for pests, diseases, and vegetables ready for harvest. I spotted telltale water soaked lesions characteristic of Late Blight on one of the tomato plants on Thursday evening. Although I knew from my previous research what this was, I jumped on the internet again to see if there was a small possibility that it may be something else…something treatable.

By Friday evening, the other tomato plants were also showing signs of Late Blight and the disease had progressed quickly. There was no further uncertainty. Sadly, the realization sunk in that I had no options but to pull these plants and remove them...leaving gaping holes in the garden and my heart.


  1. Sorry too hear you joined the club. I think Granny is in the process right now. When you see that first brown spot on the leaf, it's too late to take any preventative measures. Next year I will be spraying a fungicide early and often.


  2. Such a sad day. It's too bad so many are going to go through this. I'm suddenly feeling the need to go out and check my plants...

  3. Thanks John. I hope your potatoes continue to escape this disease. Oh no! Not Granny too!

    Thanks Amy. I hope you never experience Late Blight. Sorry to make you anxious about your plants. At least you know what to look for.

  4. oh no. I am so sorry. It must have been so devastating to go out and find your plants looking like that. I may have to pull 2 or 3 of my plants. Doesn't look like late blight but something is turning them yellow quickly. :(

  5. NOOOOO!!!! I am so so sorry!

  6. So sorry to hear that. How horrible to have to pull up all of those plants that represent your hard work and care.

  7. I'm so sorry. First John, now you...and yes, I had one plant that definitely succumbed to it, and the neighboring plant showing signs. I ended up pulling all four plants from that bed today and hope the other beds don't get infected. At least I got a good crop off of mine before the disease hit.

  8. tammysf: yes, it was really devastating to see Late Blight on my tomato plants. I am sorry you are having problems with your tomatoes too. Take a look at the “Tomato Link Disorders” link in my sidebar to see if you can identify your tomato problems. There may be something you can do to save the ones not affected yet.

    Toni: Did you hear me all the way from Maine when I exclaimed, "NOOOOOO!!!!!!" as I recognized Late Blight on my tomato plants???? It was so difficult to pull all of those plants. Thank you for your sympathy, I know my gardening friends understand my pain. (sigh) Luckily, this disease will not survive the winter and I can try again next year.

    Crystable: Thanks for your kind words. Gosh I did coddle these tomato plants, I carefully wove their branches in the trellis, pruned the suckers, fawned over the fist tomato that appeared on each plant. I did learn a lot and will carry this with me next year as I grow tomatoes again.

    Annie’s Granny: I really hope the tomatoes you pulled do NOT have Late Blight. If so then it is unfortunate that your other tomato plants have probably already been exposed. The disease develops really fast, so keep your eyes on them. Also watch your potatoes.

  9. My potatoes have already been dug, and the good tomatoes are way across the yard in another bed, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed...except I'm getting so sick of tomatoes I don't think I'd shed a tear at this point in time.