As I work my way through tomatoes canned two years ago, I worry about being able to replenish them this coming season. Last summer’s attack of Late Blight, an air-borne fungal disease, destroyed tomato and potato crops throughout New England. One important step for home gardeners to take this year is to buy locally-grown tomato starts. This avoids the chance of importing infected plants from growers in southern states where Late Blight can overwinter.
To further help you protect yourself as well as our surrounding community of growers, the UNH Cooperative Extension maintains a Late Blight and Information & Update page. It includes an online slide show, Late Blight 2010: Prevention, Identification & Management, and a list of prevention techniques:
Late Blight: A Community Disease
Ensure your garden is not a source of disease!
Late blight persists in potato tubers
Search and destroy volunteer potato plants sprouting in the garden or compost pile (bag and place in the garbage).
Buy new potato seed from a source that can provide assurance they are disease free.
Do not plant potatoes left-over from last years infected crop or potatoes purchased from a grocery store.
Buy tomato transplants from a locally grown source that can provide assurance they are disease free.
Minimize leaf wetness by staking tomatoes, using good spacing and practicing good weed management.
If late blight occurs in your garden, remove affected tissue and promptly report to extension in your state.