Overall, Albright’s community garden is still healthy and producing plentiful produce. Lately, we have been harvesting cucumbers, swiss chard, a number of different and scentful herbs, as well as other crops, and just the beginnings of different varieties of tomatoes.
These past few weeks, as the heat has increased, we have noticed some problems with some of our tomato plants. The bottom leaves are beginning to become yellow and brown spots also have become obvious to us. We’ve learned that this is because of a very common disease among gardeners alike. The disease is aptly named early blight.
Early blight is caused by the fungus Alternaria solani. The fungus usually begins attacking the tomato plant’s leaves closest to the ground because of the higher amount of moisture there (fungi love moisture). The disease typically begins as it forms round brown spots on the leaves and as is spreads, the whole leaf will turn yellow and eventually die. Sometimes early blight can affect the stems as well as the fruit.
Early blight spreads by water and soil coming into contact with tomato plants and can attack plants throughout the growing season, especially when conditions are humid.
Now don’t completely freak out because there are remedial measures that can be taken. For one, it is important to keep the lower leaves of the tomato plants off the ground by snipping them before the disease gets to them. Another remedy is to snip off any affected leaves. This will slow the spread of early blight. Another way to keep early blight out of the garden is to put a layer of something between the soil and the plants. Some gardeners use newspaper or a thick mulch. This will prevent the fungus spores in the soil from splashing onto the leaves. Also, good air circulation among the plants can keep the leaves dry and less susceptible.
If these methods fail to keep early blight from potentially ruining your tomato plot, there are organic fungicides that can be used. We have been using a copper fungicide over the past week to attempt to keep the early blight at bay.
Early blight typically doesn’t affect the fruits. But the disease must be kept under control in order to have a fully optimal garden.
Recipe of the Week:
Fast and Simple Salsa
6 large tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3/4 cup green chile peppers, chopped
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
Add all ingredients to list
Combine the tomatoes, onion, and green chile peppers in a bowl; drain briefly. Return the mixture to the bowl; stir the vinegar and salt into the tomato mixture.