By Vanessa Richins
Last year was a sad year in the tomato world, wasn’t it?
It felt like every other word I read on gardening sites mentioned “blight.”
Rain, an influx of new gardeners (which meant a larger chance for spreading), infected plants sold at retail chains and other conditions meant many tomato plants fell prey to late blight.
Next year can be better, though, if we all take steps to manage the disease.
The fungus needs a host that is living, so it will die on tomato plants left over the winter. It’s best to clean them all out, though, to help prevent any of the other diseases.
When you’re ready to plant again in the spring, I would suggest starting your own from seeds. You can still use any seeds from plants affected by late blight. Alternatively, you could shop at local nurseries that you know produce their own transplants.
Choosing the right variety to plant is also key. As the Times Herald Record points out, Mountain Magic, Plum Regal and Legend offer resistance to late blight.
It’s important to remember that this disease also occurs in potatoes. If you have grown potatoes in your garden this year, remove as much of the plants and tubers as possible after harvest as a precaution. If you had blight in your garden, don’t save any of the potatoes for planting next year – it’s best to start fresh.
Check in with your Extension office throughout the season to see if late blight has been spotted in your area.
I hope that next year will be much more successful for tomato growers!