Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Canning again, my feet hurt, I smell like a tomato and my fingers are sore from peeling tomatoes. Our Romas and San Marzanos are prolific this year and the Opalkas are giant! The color red that they turn when canned is just beautiful and they call out for the tomato soup and spaghetti sauce in the winter. There is a great sense of accomplishment when the first jars start filling up my cupboard where I keep the seasons harvest in jars. Corn is in the freezer and onions are dried and ready to use all year long. Our Blueberries were a bumper crop and made the most amazing jam! There is nothing like it in any grocery store anywhere!

24 jars of pickles seems like a lot I know but we have a lot of folks around here for lunchtime in the spring and those pickles will all get eaten. Thank goodness watermelons don't need canning but all those apples all over the apple tree are going to make apple butter this year which cooks down in the slow cooker. We also have the prettiest french filet beans in yellow and green all packed into jars to enjoy for a long time.

Putting up is exhausting work, how did women survive doing this all summer long every year? I am afraid my family would have starved by the end of November. Living out in the country like we do, I can't just run to the store and get dinner every night so it is nice to have lots of great staples to choose from but I don't think we could live off of our own garden yet. We do have our own eggs and beef and we are lucky to trade for pork and sometimes chicken too.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tomato Late Blight in the Northeast

Reports of Bonnie's Plants in the Northeast with Late Blight are in the news right now and I am sure many folks are worried about their tomato plants. This is an incredibly nasty disease that causes terrible looking lesions which start on the stems and move to the leaves.

Because of the distribution of plants all over the country by Bonnie's and others, and the fact that they don't know where it is coming from, Bonnie's greenhouses or at the stores, they are very concerned and have pulled plants off the shelves of several stores. This is akin to the situation with produce that is grown in factory farms, processed in very large scale and distributed all over the country. When there is an outbreak, it is almost impossible to control the spread.

If your plant shows signs of these particular lesions, they should be destroyed immediately, you will not be able to prevent the spread of the disease. Because the fungal spores travel airborne, it will move to your other plants and only get worse. If you don't have lesions like this, don't worry, you are probably just fine. We haven't had any reports of lesions on any of our plants and we don't have any reason to believe our plants have been contaminated since we don't sell in big box stores.

Fungicides can be used to prevent this disease and prevention is important if you live in areas where rainfall is extremely heavy for weeks at a time. This creates the perfect conditions for the spread of diseases.