Friday, May 9, 2008

Early Blight

Well, there it is in living color.  I was just patting myself on the back for having a successful potato crop and spots began showing up on the leaves.  I put it out of my mind as I was eating those lovely, pink potatoes drenched in butter (yes, real butter!) and sea salt.  I spent the week watching the plants and hoped it was a reaction to our well water or the liquid seaweed fertilizer I apply once a week.  Maybe it's bugs?  

I took my head out of the sand and began pouring over my gardening books and Google. Vegetable Garden Problem Solver by Rodale was my first read.  I now know this about early blight:
"Tomatoes are the crop that is hardest hit by early blight, but it can also infect potatoes, peppers, and eggplant."  Great, at least I didn't plant any eggplant!  "The fungus that causes it is Alternaria solani.  In Spring, early blight spores blow in the wind or are spread by insects or rain splashing up from the soil.  Spores enter the plants through wounds in leaves. (darn cabbage loopers!!!) The fungus produces spores in several rounds each growing season. "

Fighting the infection:  It basically says to cut off the leaves hit by the fungus.  Hand water plants, mulch heavily so the rain won't splash on the plant (doesn't rain splash off mulch too??). It also says to make sure their are no potatoes left in the soil over the winter and to rotate tomato/potato family crops every 3 years.  Geez, I just got the hang of this and now I'm supposed to wait three years to plant potatoes again?

Well, I'm going to have to keep a hawks watch on my tomatoes.  They are living a mere 6 feet from where the potatoes once were.  I pulled up the entire crop of potatoes and hope it hasn't spread to the potatoes themselves.  At least those first potatoes brought me great gustatory joy and allowed me to give my sister the proper send off for her home in Portland.

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