Sunday, September 13, 2009

Best laid plans ...

of mice & men so goes the famous line written by John Steinbeck. This thought could very well apply to a good majority of gardeners and farmers in my area. Here in Western New York and from what I have read on many online gardening forums most of the northeast has suffered from both early & late season blight to both tomato and potato crops. It was an unusually cool and wet Summer for us which provided the perfect environment for blight.
Besides these two staples onions that normally didn't have a problem grown in low lying fields became too wet & rotted. Watch for a price hike for all 3.

For my own small space in the city the blight hit late but deep. 70 odd surviving San Marzano tomato plants that I had started from seed all came down with the blight just as the fruit was starting to ripen.
We have been using some for cooking but won't be canning any of it. This means that I am scrambling to find a frugal alternative healthy to home grown canned tomatoes. So far many of the local farms haven't had any paste tomatoes to speak of or their supply is spoken for pretty much before it's picked. I won't mention the cost.
I may just have to break down and actually buy canned toms.
Will also rework our Winter menu to substitute something else in place of tomatoes.
Any suggestions?

This is what blight looks likes from a distance. The plants turn brown and look as if they need water. Both stems & leaves have milk chocolate colored patches. This is the cold frame moved to it's new & final location last April.
After this pic was taken all the blighted plants were pulled then it was replanted with salad greens. Also moved some of the marigolds to this bed to help with bug control.

An example of blighted fruit. Top left hand corner is San Marzano Italian paste, on the right is an unknown beefsteak variety that sprouted up in the cold frame a volunteer.
This link is from Penn State Cooperative extension on why you shouldn't can blighted tomatoes.

Here's a pic of the tomatoes (new bed) in July before the blight hit. By August the plants had topped the trellis that DH built and were growing down the back side despite the lack of proper sunshine due to a neighbor's Maple tree. Over all the beds that I doubled digged & layered with organic matter did very well despite the poor growing conditions.

Need to find out if it's alright to use a tomato grown on a blight plant for it's seeds. I have saved one of the larger San Marzano's for next years crop. There is after all always next year.

~~ pelenaka ~~

P.S. I have 3 new bartering buds - two are a direct result of my primary bbgf who introduced me to them. One I traded a plastic office organizer drawer thingy & a pound of DH's garden onions for 3 jars of Ragu sauce & several packets of name brand tuna. The second bb ( barter buddy), traded me a dozen & half eggs home grown eggs for a future take on salad greens which will be ready in a month. The 3rd is a member of my church who I had spoken to early last Spring. Truthfully I really didn't get the impression from her that bartering was an idea that interested her. I was wrong. I bartered a 5 lbs. roast from the beef that was butchered last July, several melons from DH's garden, and 2 pounds of his onions, in return for Frutis conditioner 2 lg. , 2 each of Sunsilk shampoo & conditioner lg., 4 Stayfree maxi 18 count, 5 Stayfree Ultra thins 16 count packages. 1 Palmolive bottle of dish soap 20 onces. I will also come up with a few extra goodies for her since she wasn't really sure on what she wanted besides the roast. She is a very big coupon/rebate gal having figured out that whole CVS program.

Needless to say as God was watching out for me as I was on my last sanitary pad that morning. Yeah, I know TMI TMI.