“A day in the country is worth a month in town”Christina Rossetti

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Late Blight

I'm getting a little nervous. One end of my tomato row is looking a bit unwell, but I still have tomatoes on the vine. Perhaps its just the moisture and my bad gardening habits. But with each salad I make, I take time to savor the taste of these tomatoes, just in case the season is tragically short. Even non-gardeners have read enough about late blight to know something bad is happening to tomatoes and potatoes. Today an Op-Ed gave me a lot of food for thought. Interestingly, it was written by a chef who cares about where food comes from. You Say Tomato, I Say Agricultural Disaster .

According to plant pathologists, this killer round of blight began with a widespread infiltration of the disease in tomato starter plants. Large retailers like Home Depot, Kmart, Lowe’s and Wal-Mart bought starter plants from industrial breeding operations in the South and distributed them throughout the Northeast. (Fungal spores, which can travel up to 40 miles, may also have been dispersed in transit.) Once those infected starter plants arrived at the stores, they were purchased and planted, transferring their pathogens like tiny Trojan horses into backyard and community gardens. Perhaps this is why the Northeast was hit so viciously: instead of being spread through large farms, the blight sneaked through lots of little gardens, enabling it to escape the attention of the people who track plant diseases.

In my summary, this article makes another case for Buy Fresh-Buy Local in the case of starter plants. I'm not sure if the information is fact or theory, but it makes some sense. It will make me think more about my source choices


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