Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Blight Battle Begins

The battle has begun.

The battle to avoid the Tomato Blight of the Summer of 2013.

I did everything I could to avoid it. My babes were raised on homemade seed starter containing lots of organic compost. They grew strong and healthy in our basement under the lights, transitioned to the porch for hardening off and were planted after danger of frost in our best vegetable bed where no tomatoes had been grown in over three years. They were mulched heavily in clean straw and on cold nights were blanketed in buckets.

I dutifully snipped off all the branches that neared the ground. We gave each plant its own cage to protect it from flying feet chasing baseballs and to later support them as they grew.

We watered only when necessary, using a soaker setting and being careful not to splash the leaves.

And yet….

The first nasty spotty, yellowed leaves appeared. I yanked them off and inspected daily for more. And there were more.

So I sought out the farmer at the Market whom I trusted to give me the most organically-inclined advice.  Feigning casual interest, I asked, “So, if your tomatoes were showing signs of blight, what would you do?” (You’ll notice I didn’t name names or admit to my potential plight.)

He grimaced in empathetic pain and quickly replied, “I’d get some organic pesticide as quick as I could and douse them.”
“Copper?” I asked.
“That’d work,” he said and went back to calculating the weight of my purchases.

I hurried home and dug out the bag of Copper powder we had hidden in our basement from the last blight three years ago. That was the blight that wiped out ALL our tomatoes. But we hadn’t started spraying until it was too late.

I mixed up a gallon, soaked the plants – tops, bottoms, sides of leaves, stems, even the ground surrounding

And then less than 30 minutes later, storms rolled in and rain washed off all my efforts. Ugh.

Three days of intermittent storms/rain continued. But at the first sign of a break lasting more than a few hours, I sprayed our plants again.

And now the wait begins. I’ll spray every four days, but vacation, life, and children will surely restrict my opportunities. So we’ll leave it to fate.

Do you think it’s okay to pray for tomatoes?

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