6 Late Blight Prevention Tips for Your Garden

Shari Altman
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tomato
Photo by Shari Altman
Last year, I lost all of my tomato plants to the plant disease late blight. It was such a devastating experience, especially since my husband and I had nurtured them from seed.

One day we had healthy tomatoes about to set fruit and the next day we walked into the garden and found irregular brown spots on the lower leaves. We had heard about this disease on the radio and knew we had to pull up the plants, bag them, and send them to the trash. It was sad, but we didn't want to be irresponsible and aid in the spread of the disease.

Experts don't think late blight will be as much as a problem in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic this year, but I think it's better to err on the side of caution.

Here are few things you can do to help prevent late blight:

  1. Sow your own tomato seeds or buy transplants from a local source.
  2. Grow varieties that show some resistance to late blight. We're trying the Matt's Wild Cherry tomato variety this year.
  3. Buy certified seed potatoes if you're planting potatoes this year.
  4. If you grew potatoes last year, be on the lookout for volunteers and destroy them as they come up. Late blight can overwinter on potatoes that were accidentally left in the soil.
  5. Learn the symptoms and signs of late blight. Cornell University has a wonderful website with a photo gallery showing the symptoms of late blight. You'll also find answers to FAQ about the disease and a pdf that clears up some late blight myths.
  6. Be vigilant about inspection. Look early and often for signs of the disease

Will you be trying a resistant variety of tomato or potato in your garden this year?

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