The Great Late Blight of 2009

This year I planted 19 tomato plants in our garden. Six of them were from the local nursery and the other 13 I started from seed. I’ve been looking forward to a huge harvest for months now, and was really excited when the fruit started ripening a couple of weeks ago.

Then we went to Maine for a long weekend. When we came back, I found that about half the plants had the late blight. And so I had to pull all of them out of the ground and put them in a trash bag. I’m not quite sure what to do to the soil to make it okay for tomatoes again next year – it’s still a little too raw for that.

Not sure what the late blight is? Well, it’s the disease that caused the Irish Potato Famine. It’s a bugger to get rid of, particularly if you want to use organic methods. It can take out the entire crop in a few days, which is why I pulled mine out. It’s a fungal disease, and it’s airborne. I pulled all mine out also because I don’t want to infect my neighbors (although it’s likely too late for that).

The late blight has been a horrible problem in the northeast this year. The trifecta of lots of rain, cool temperatures, and a whole slew of infected plants that got shipped from southern growers to big-box stores (and sold) made ideal conditions for this to thrive. Not only did I lose my 19 plants (sob!) but my CSA lost their entire crop of tomatoes. As in, none of the 300+ CSA shares get tomatoes this year. This is the same CSA that gave out 10+ pounds to each shareholder multiple times last summer. Devastating.

Not sure if you have the blight? Check out these great resources, and if you DO have it, bite the bullet, pull up the plants, and trash them. Don’t compost them. Trash them. It sucks, but better to get rid of it now than continue to infect your neighbors and farmers.

Our Garden upon finding the Late Blight

Our tomato plants – all 19 of them (plus 2 sunflowers).

Evidence of the Late Blight

Dying stalks and leaves.

More Evidence of the Late Blight

Telltale browning/blackening of the stems.

Tomato Harvest

About 2/3 of the harvest (at least the tomatoes didn’t succumb, but now HOLY CRAP we have a lot of green tomatoes.)

Bagged the Diseased Plants for the Trash

Bagged, ready to be tied and trashed.

Pulled the Plants Out

So sad….

The hand that planted, the hand that pulled

This is the hand that planted the tomatoes, and it’s the hand that pulled them up.

If April Showers Bring May Flowers, Here They Are

We have more pretties in our yard:

Johnny Jump-Ups?

Johnny Jump-Up
(not to be confused with the Jossi Jukin-Up)
(only you hockey fans will get that one).

Bleeding Hearts

More bleeding hearts, because I love them.


Purty tulip guts.


One of the new tulips this year, in the spot where the arborvitae used to live.

We’ve also got some wildlife in the yard:

One of the Garter Snakes

There are at least 2 garter snakes – one near the veggie garden and one near the neighbor’s pool. Here is PoolSnake sunning itself. I watched VeggieSnake eat a worm the other day. Holy circle of life Batman. !!!


Speaking of circle of life, here’s Maggie chowing down on the incredibly long grass, which we’ve already mowed three times this year. Before May 18. !!!

On Guard for the Mailman On Guard for the Mailman

And here’s Maggie letting us all know that the mailman is trying to violate the integrity of the yard. It’s really too bad the mailman leaves every day, because she thinks it’s because she barks at him. Alas, silly dogs won’t be reasoned with.

Three Years of Our House

House, April 2009

April 2009 – with small dog and new color (which highlights the weird lack-of-trim around the kitchen windows – gotta get on that)

Our Yard - Mid-June 2008

Mid-June 2008 – with mown grass, pre-painting (way too many power and cable lines coming to the house – we got rid of 2 of them and we’ve also since cut down the gigantic arborvitae to the right of the house and two large ash trees to the left of the house (sob! except that they could have fallen on the house or a neighbor’s house in a heavy storm so it’s safer we cut them down now.))

House, May 2008

May 2008 – with flowering quince and tulips

South side of our house

May 2007 – with tulips

Side of the House

June 2006 – with wheelbarrow

9 Lincoln St. in Natick

March 2006 – with open cellar door