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Turkey Tracks and Interesting Information: Late Blight Hits Potatoes

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Turkey Tracks and Interesting Information:  August 25, 2011

Late Blight Hits Potatoes

We pulled our potatoes last week.

Late blight was on their leaves, and we didn’t want to risk losing all of them.  Even if the potatoes look ok, they don’t taste right if the late blight gets a real hold on the plants.  Late blight is the same culprit that attacked the Irish potatoes and produced the famous famine.

Late blight also attacks tomato plants.  It shrivels up and yellows the leaves as if their edges have been burned.  The stems are next.  There are some black spots.  And the tomatoes get spots on them.  They rot and taste terrible.

So, to save what we could and to protect the tomatoes, we pulled the potatoes–which meant they would not continue to grow up into September, or about another 4-6 weeks.

We started with 6 varieties:  La Ratte fingerlings, Red Pontiac, Elba, Katahdin, German Butterballs, and a Russet.  Here’s what the harvest looked like.   (Remember we’ve been eating the fingerlings.)

Aren’t they pretty?  Even if still smallish.

Maine has been struggling with late blight for three years now.  It first came to us on tomato plants grown in the south and shipped in here for the big box stores.  So, it’s another legacy of monocrop culture and capitalism that doesn’t control for disease.  The spores of late blight can travel for miles and miles on the air currents–more than 40.  That first year, late blight wiped out the new England tomato harvest.

I’ve read about “organic” spraying strategies, but the sprays seem not to be what I want on my soil or near my body.  Better to forego potatoes and tomatoes if necessary.

C’est la vie!

Written by louisaenright

August 25, 2011 at 4:00 pm

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