The blighted season

I’m so sad. My entire 40-plant bed of paste tomatoes has early blight. My schedule has been so nuts over the last week since I discovered the first signs, and I haven’t had a moment to pull plants and dispose of them. My apologies to the neighbors if it’s traveling from mine to yours on the wind. I stopped my truck on the way out of the driveway yesterday morning to survey the damage and it’s bad, but the vines are FULL of giant fruit. I must be in denial because I keep thinking, oh maybe it’s just going to effect the leaves. Silly me.

I didn’t realize blight had made it this far west. I thought I was safe because I started my tomatoes from organic seed and organic soil in my basement instead of buying plants from a big box store. I was wrong.

I know this is just one of those things that happens and it’s been a ridiculously wet summer, which makes blight thrive, but every day I read another gardener’s account of bagging up their tomato and potato plants and forfeiting their gleaming jars of sauce and salsa and it feels like the plague has hit. I suppose early blight is a sort of plant black plague. I’m going to skip photos, it’s too depressing.

I’m wondering if my new lasagna bed made the plants more susceptible to the blight, and it’s time to find out if there’s anything I can do to safely treat my soil so it doesn’t recur next year. I noticed a bunch of yellowed and browned leaves in the Matt’s Wild Cherry and Cosmonaut Volkovs last night, so it’s just a matter of time before my entire tomato crop is wasted. I should probably pull my potatoes immediately, too.

Oh, this gardening year has been the worst ever and I’m pitching a little fit in my heart. Can you feel me stomping my feet? I started off with such high hopes! Most of my beds were prepared for spring planting in the fall and I got so much in the ground early. Then I went away and the ground hogs and rabbits moved in. Now blight, which means I lost eighty percent of my summer crops. Sigh.

I guess it’s a good lesson in attachment. I’ve come to identify myself so strongly with my gardens and things are percolating under the surface of the community that is leading me towards work in gardening. I’m a little bit worried that this season just proves I haven’t got what it takes. But only a little bit worried. I can shoot out the other side of that black tunnel of fear into the stupid blinding light of my list of things to do to prevent the same scene next year. Buried fences. Soil amendments. Crop rotation. You just move forward or you stop, right?

I’m not going to give detailed voice to how much I want to stop at this moment. Amen for the winter. In past years I’ve said that — meaning how nice it is to give my body a rest. Gardening at this scale is a lot of physical work. But now? Now I’m simply hopeful that winter will heal my blighted heart and bring me back to the place of loving my garden again. At the moment, I’m thinking a bulldozer might be the answer. Double sigh.

I feel so bad for the farmers that are losing their cash crops. I’m just missing out on a freezer full of marinara and a pantry self of salsa. I can still go buy tomatoes from a u-pick (as long as they don’t also have blight). Yes, I was counting on my crops for winter. Losing 280 foot row of shelling beans when the beans were *just* about ready for the first picking, to the furry little f*ckers has put me in a space of no mercy. But I can buy beans. They won’t taste as good and I’ll spend money I don’t want to spend, but I have the option.

I don’t know, you guys. Something about this season feels like an alarm sounding. Guess I’d better make my list and get to work.

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