Tuesday, September 22, 2009

tomato blight

Although the tomatoes have done their share of producing in the backyard grocery test plots, I'm disappointed by the blight. Blight is a fungus that affects plants in the tomato family (which also includes eggplant, peppers and potatoes) The best ways to avoid getting the blight is to mulch well, to prevent "splash back" from the rain, give each plant enough room, don't water in the evening or from overhead and if the tell tale spots do show up, remove any affected leaves or branches promptly. When the season is over, be sure to remove any sick leaves and plants and do not add them to the compost pile and be sure when planning for next year to move tomato family plants to a different area of the garden.

My first time gardeners have enjoyed an abundance of tomatoes this season, all heirloom varieties that consistently deliver in the taste department. One of the most popular was the Cherokee Purple variety a deep colored tomato that ripens to purple and has a rich tomato flavor.

Heirloom varieties produce vegetables that are not your typical grocery store varieties. These are old timey plants that have been phased out of our vegetable lexicon due to their incompatibility with our industrialized mono crop farms, mechanical harvest, inconsistent sizing and an inability to ship long distances, they also have not been genetically modified. How a seed variety qualifies for the heirloom title is under debate. Many gardeners agree that a variety introduced before 1945 qualifies for heirloom status as this indicates the end of World War II, an increase in industrialized agriculture and more widespread use of hybridized seeds.

Pictured: Bulgarian Carrot Pepper, hot heirloom pepper that dries well and adds briliant color to any dish.

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