Battle of the Blight

The garden has been growing relatively well this year. It seemed that everything took a while to get going–the cooler spring and early summer, plus lots of rain, deterred growth for a while. However, the sunnier weather over the past month has allowed the plants to unfurl and send out their green leaves, flower, and begin to fruit.Each vegetable seems to know how to make up for lost time.

The gardens at Merck Forest are as much an experiment as a necessary staple for the apprentices. We try new things each year, and stick with staple crops. Much of the vegetables grown will be used or stored. Other portions will go to the Rupert Food Pantry.

Image of Late blight from
Image of Late blight from

Because the garden does help support both staff and the community, it’s important that the plants are cared for, irrigated when dry, and disease looked out for.

Last week, we thought that some of the tomatoes had unfortunately fallen to the latter. Several of the tomato plants looked as though they may have gotten blight, potentially “late blight”.

Some of the leaves and stems turned brown, but so far the fruit has remain unscathed.

After more analysis of the plants, we also hypothesized that the tomatoes may have been pruned too late in the season.

We’ll keep an eye on the plants, and hope that the tomatoes themselves are not actually affected. Blight may mean that we will not get to harvest our toms this year; damage from pruning may not be so detrimental to the crop. We’re waiting to see.

Blights are common to certain vegetables. It is good to know why your plants may be turning brown or spotty. For you fellow tomato-growers, take a look at these two links to learn more about blights that can affect tomatoes: