Things have been really busy on the farm, it is amazing how many things need to be done at the same time! Our most recent adventure in farming involves a potato blight. My research has led to the conclusion that this blight is related to the Irish Potato Blight that led to the Irish immigrants coming to America. Potato blight is caused by a fungus called Phytophthora Infestans. Humid weather plays a huge part in the blight taking hold of potatoes, and the last few weeks have had several days of over 90% humidity so I am not surprised that we have gotten blighted. Blight is carried through the air so unless your crop is completely surrounded and covered to keep out any breeze, you are lucky to avoid the blight. We planted 70 pounds of potatoes in a new field this year and I was hoping we could avoid the blight here since no crops had been grown recently. No such luck. We got it bad. I spent three of our hottest, humid mornings last week removing all the potato stalks from our plants and putting them in trash bags so we can hopefully preserve the potatoes in the ground.
I had noticed some brown on our plants and deluded myself into thinking it was just from the potato bugs that were showing up. No such luck, I dug some potatoes, they tasted great by the way, then I noticed a couple of rotten potatoes in our storage bin. Hmmmm. they had been perfectly good when I dug them up, then I realized that some of our stalks were looking soft and squishy, aha, the blight. Awesome.
Some people burn the stalks as they start to show signs of blight. We don’t have the equipment to do this so I cut them and threw them away. What I have read is to keep the potatoes in the ground for three weeks to try to prevent the blight from taking a hold of the actual potatoes. Cross your fingers, I am certainly crossing mine!
I have had late blight on my tomatoes for several years and I have managed to control it and still keep a crop by removing any infected leaves, keeping vines off the ground and mulching with either plastic or hay. I spent Saturday removing blighted tomato vines from the plants and throwing them away. I also trimmed back a lot of the lower vines to keep them away from splash back off the ground. My tomatoes are just starting to ripen this year so I am desperate to keep it from taking hold which means a trip to the tomatoes every day to remove anything suspicious looking.
Ahhhh, I dream of really cold weather this winter. Be gone blight and ticks!