Late blight has once again forced us to remove all our tomatoes. Spores blew in on the western end of the garden and proceeded through our 75 tomato plants consisting of 50 varieties. This is flash back to 2009 when late blight came on earlier and wiped out most tomatoes in the area. We are still waiting for others in the area to report but we seem to be the first.
Late blight is caused by the same organism which caused the potato famine in Ireland in the 1840’s. When the kids arrive at school our history teacher will show them the few remaining plants and cover a unit on the famine.
The organism is still considered a fungus but it has some unusual properties like swimming down potato stems to infect the tubers. Infestations of tomatoes seems to be the major problem for home gardeners in Maine. Here is a Cornell web site which covers the biology very well. http://www.longislandhort.cornell.edu/vegpath/photos/lateblight_tomato.htm