Remember those beautiful, robust tomato plants I showed you a week ago, full of joy and excitement? Well, they are a thing of the past, ravaged by what you see here: late blight (not my photo–I didn’t have my camera). I’d noticed this devastation spreading in the community garden and a woman who I call Debbie Downer, who likes to visit my plot and tell me things won’t grow, had told Mr. Pea and I about while we weeded a couple of weeks ago. And today our poor plants had begun to croak. I had a feeling it was coming–late blight (the same disease that caused the Irish potato famine, isn’t that charming?) starts with brown spots on the stems, and I had spotted those a week or so ago. Today those spots were splitting and cracking, the leaves were blackening, what little fruit had grown (they’d just really started to set) were getting blotchy spots, which would ultimately rot the tomato and turn hard. I took what was growing and not blotchy off, pulled off the dead stuff, but I don’t think there’s much of a chance for the plants themselves.
Late blight is evidently not uncommon but typically comes later (thus the name), after harvesting. With all the rain we’ve had, and our unseasonably cool weather, it came faster. There have also been accusations levelled at big box stores such as home depot for the blight: evidently some of the plants they sold in the northeast were infected and then as they sat on shelves, the infected spread their spores to other plants, and then these plants were put in gardens, and, well, here we are.
Oh well. As Mr. Pea says, life doesn’t always go as planned, and really, they’re just plants. And as another gardener (who, incidentally, looked like Santa Claus and gave me a present of a zucchini from his garden–coincidence?) noted, at least we don’t depend on these tomatoes for our livlihoods or sustenance. That would be much worse, indeed.