planning early for late blight

Pests & Pathogens, Planning the Garden, Tomatoes

We had such a bad time with late blight at our community garden last year.  This year we will be distributing late blight resistant tomatoes to any of our gardeners who want to give them a try.  We have contracted to have 500 seedlings grown for us.  They will be grown locally by Sandra at Underwood Greenhouses, a old greenhouse (circa 1905) in Belmont.

Sandra has purchased all of the seeds and is planning to begin planting in March (I think).  I am looking forward to photographing the process.  I can’t wait to see all those little tomato plants growing.

Here is our late blight resistant variety list:

Defiant PhR (Johnny’s Seed)

Mountain Magic (Johnny’s Seed)
Plum Regal (Johnny’s Seed)
Legend (Reimer Seeds)
Old Brooks (Reimer Seeds)
Sun Gold (Johnny’s Seed)

I tried to find a source for Ferline (Thompson and Morgan) that will ship to the US, but haven’t been able to.

Sandra will also grow some heirloom tomatoes for us.  The Brandywine variety is one she and her father have saved for 50 years.  These varieties will not be resistant to late blight.  For them, I am thinking of trying a plastic.tunnel.  I suppose it would need to be about 5 feet tall.  I am just beginning to look into where I would buy one of these. A tunnel would keep moisture off of the plant’s leaves.

Here is the list of heirlooms being grown for us:
Brandywine (saved seeds)
Cherokee Purple (Johnny’s)
Gold Medal (Reimer)
Cosmonaut Volkov (Territorial)
San Marzano Gigante (Territorial)
Prudens Purple (Johnny’s)
Mortgage Lifter (Reimer)
Tiffen Mennonite (Reimer)
Purple Calabash (Territorial)
Moskvich (Johnny’s)

I have also been reading about grafted tomatoes (article on grafted tomatoes at almanac.com).  It seems if you graft a nice delicate heirloom onto a tough resistant root stock, the heirloom will take on some characteristics of the root stock.  You still get heirloom tomatoes but the plant is more vigorous and has more disease resistance. Territorial is selling some grafted Brandywines.  I might try this too, just to compare. And, if I get time, I’d like to look into what is involved in grafting my own plants.
I am sure Sandra will be growing extra plants, so these varieties should be available for other gardeners too. I think you can contact her through her website, Underwood Greenhouses,, if you ant to make sure.

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