Organizers of the Southborough Community Gardens want you to be on the lookout for a fungal foe. Phytophthora infestans, more commonly known as late blight, is the same fungus that caused the the Irish Potato Famine in the 1800’s, and it’s been found on tomato plants in the Community Gardens off Breakneck Hill Road.
Researchers from Rutgers and Cornell say late blight is a big problem this year because of favorable weather conditions and because infected plants were unknowingly distributed by some big box stores. The fungus quickly kills infected plants and then spores spread to nearby plants.
An email to those who maintain plots at the Community Gardens advised:
We definitely have some blight on our tomato plants at community gardens. I have pulled two of mine up already–and I did not buy mine at a big box store–a friend grew them from seed! So no matter where yours came from, they may not be safe from the blight.
If you find late blight on tomato plants in your garden, the only thing to do is pull them out and dispose of them. You should not compost them because fungal spores can become airborne and infect other plants.
Here’s what to look for:
For more information, including additional photos, see this alert about late blight.