My two favorite things! (Pizza and beer?)
Two of my well-liked things found amongst a much larger list of liked things that includes pizza and beer!
Science and gardening.
Actually, in this case, more a perversion of science. Typical I suppose.
This article in The Hartford Courant gets a few things close to right, but seems to zero in on the drama where it’s not needed.
The headline tells us:
“Fungus That Caused Irish Potato Famine Now Affecting Gardens In New England.”
Holy crap! We’re all going to die of starvation! The Irish Potato Famine!!!! Buy your milk and bread now and then kiss your ass goodbye!
Now. It’s true. The fungus in question, phytophthora infestans (Blight) played a part in the Irish Potato Famine of 1845 – 46. And it’s true that blight is about to take a heavy chunk out of potatoes/tomatoes in the northeast. It’s going to be bad. Probably. Given what our weather has been (rain with periods of frequent rain punctuated by rain followed by rain with afternoon rain and 100% chance of rain) and given our temperatures (summer? what’s summer?) of 75 degrees and under, this fungus is most assuredly among us.
As some of you may recall, my crop of tomatoes was completely destroyed last year by late blight. I was so heartbroken about it (I had an amazing variety of tomatoes going) that I finally decided to do the right thing and skip many years of nightshades. Because the problem is that blight is here and always has been.
Bunch of irishmen caused the fungus spores in 1845? Probably not. Probably somebody in my field. North America. New York. Philly. We started the fire (probably from embers in Mexico).
Blight, the fungus and the conditions that support it are New Englandish. It’s here now, it was here last year and it was here in 1845, 1945. Expect it in 2045. It’s never not been a problem, but this year it’s awfully pronounced. Mosquitoes and blight are what happen after 40 days and 40 nights of rain.
The article indicates that this year’s problem is because of crap plants at crap stores that were brought in. See? Can’t possibly be the fault of Connecticut! That stuff was from out of town!
Well, sure. The blight probably is on tomatoes and potato seeds that we bring in from out of town. But it’s here already. The stuff overwinters. That’s the problem with it. Once it has moved in, it just party crashes. Give it a host, a cup of dirt and some moisture and it’s ready to stay for the summer.
So what do we do?
It’s not easy, but if you’ve got blight on your tomato or potato plants, dig them up when they are dry, wrap them in plastic (or bury them very, very, very deep) and get them to a nunnery or landfill or whatever. Don’t plant nightshades again next year. Or the year after. Augment your soil with real compost that’s gotten hot and everything.
I suppose fungicide could work to prevent, but not really and why would you?
There are blight-resistant strains of tomatoes and potatoes that can help.
So that’s what we do.
Oh. And as the paper’s headline suggests, we panic. Turn on your fellow man. Loot. Pillage. Stock up on smoked meats. Bring your family to the nuclear shelters, load the guns and fight off the zombie invasion that is surely coming.