trying to prevent late blight

Pests & Pathogens

On Saturday, I found what looked like late blight in tomatoes in our community garden. I have been watching for it since it was confirmed a week ago in a field a mile away. I sent a sample for analysis (to UMass plant lab) and late blight was confirmed on Monday. Since then, its amazing how fast the infection has spread. Five plots now have nearly dead tomatoes and gardeners are in the process of removing the plants and debris. Adjacent plots have early infections.

My plot is on the far side of the garden from the start of the infection. Today, was another dreary wet afternoon. Perfect for spread of the fungus. I read that covering with plastic can protect the plants. I have been spraying with copper fungicide for two weeks, but thought it would be good to experiment with another method too. I haven’t had such nice looking tomato plants in a long time and would love to have them produce into September.

So, today Skippy and I went to my plot and I put up a bit of a frame with some old wood poles lashed together with string. I spread a sheet of plastic over this and secured it with string. It covers the top and about 2-3 feet down on the side, but leaves plenty of room for airflow from below. I’m thinking the idea is to reduce the number of spores that can fall on the top of the plants. Also, keep the plants dry in all this rain we are having. While traveling in Switzerland, I saw that many home gardens had plastic coverings over their tomato plants.

tomatoes under plastic 038

Its an experiment for me, just to see what happens. It will make it harder to get good coverage with the spray, but I am planning to spray again tomorrow.

It rained yet again just as I finished putting up the plastic. Underneath the tomatoes are dry. This seems to be good. I am really curious to hear if anyone has experience with tomatoes under plastic.

tomatoes under plastic 041 tomatoes under plastic 120
tomatoes under plastic 138 tomatoes under plastic 140

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