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Beat the Blight

Most people would agree that the rock star of the veggie garden is the tomato. Come July, there is nothing like a sun-warmed ripe tomato picked off the vine and eaten right in the garden.

 But in 2009, late tomato blight hit us big-time and ruined tomato harvests throughout the Northeast. Since that year, many gardens have been suffering from the introduction of blight into their soil.

  Signs of late blight

 Winterberry carries disease-resistant varieties such as Beef Master Hybrid (VFNT large), Park’s Whopper Improved (highly recommended by Sebby, our grower), Celebrity (VFNTA med.size), and Juliet Hybrid (60 days, small, red). In general, all hybrid tomatoes are disease-resistant.

 Park’s Whopper Hybrid

Disease Resistance Labeling

Tomato plant breeders have developed a labeling system to help gardeners choose disease resistant plants. The seven most common tomato plant diseases have each been assigned a letter code, as follows:

-Verticillium Wilt
– Fusarium Wilt
FF– Fusarium, races 1 and 2
FFF -Fusarium, races 1, 2, and 3
– Nematodes
– Alternaria
– Tobacco Mosaic Virus
St– Stemphylium (Gray Leaf Spot)
TSWV– Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus

Disease Control

Blight-resistant tomatoes don’t absolutely guarantee that there won’t be any disease damage, but they greatly increase your chances of getting a good tomato crop. In addition, make it a rule to water the soil, not the plants. Serenade, a biological treatment containing the bacterium Bacillus subtilis, will suppress blight if applied about once a week. Copper fungicidal treatments can also help.

Good luck & happy gardening!