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Get Growing: Tomato blight

Tomato growing on vine

Tomato growing on vine Purchase photo reprints »

Don’t panic, but the dread late blight that devastated area tomato growers a couple of years ago was detected last week on a tomato plant in Franklin County, according to UMass Extension.

Do check your tomato plants daily for possible signs of infection. Symptoms include large, nickel-sized spots, olive-green to brown in color, sometimes appearing slightly fuzzy with white fungal growth on the undersides of leaves. There can be brown or black lesions on the tomato stems and firm, brown spots on the fruit.

Early blight, which is very common in this area, and septoria leaf spot, usually on lower leaves, are also making their annual appearance, so don’t assume a spot is the really bad late blight. The less lethal spot diseases often have a yellow border around the lesion. You don’t have to take drastic measures with these two diseases.

If you do find your plants are infected with late blight, never compost them. Pull out the plants (yes, I know that is hard to do) and either bury them or put them in a plastic bag in the trash.

Check the UMass website for pictures of late blight. Here’s another helpful UMass site.

TO EAT: The long-awaited book on growing vegetables by Joe Eck and the late Wayne Winterrowd was published last month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in New York. The couple was working on the “To Eat: A Country Life” in 2010 when Winterrowd suddenly died. Eck vowed to finish the book and it is finally available. It is a delightful discussion of various vegetables, poultry and animals on their North Hill Farm in Vermont. Included are several intriguing recipes. The book is filled with great advice — based on 30 years experience — for growing leeks, Meyer lemons, fingerling potatoes, Belgian endive, Egyptian onions and the more mundane but essential carrots, chard, radishes and cucumbers. It’s a book you can savor chapter by chapter, visualizing a huge garden atop a Vermont hill nestled next to the chicken coop and the barn for the pigs and cattle. In the “Afterward” Eck confesses how hard it has been to finish the book without Winterrowd and to maintain their stupendous gardens, both edible and ornamental. The good news is that North Hill is once again open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $12. For information on visiting this famous garden check the website www.northhillgarden.com.

SUMMER WILDFLOWERS: Naturalist Nancy Goodman will lead a wildflower walk tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Bare Mountain in Amherst. The program is sponsored by the Hitchcock Center for the Environment. Bring a Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide if possible in order to learn how to “key out” plant species. Fee is $20; members, $15. Space is limited. Call 256-6006 to register.

HILLTOWN HOME GARDEN EXCHANGE: A novel garden program in Cummington is looking for participants. Fridays, 6-7 p.m., at the church in Cummington there will be a HHuge(Hilltown Home Garden Exchange) Wagon sitting outside. “Our sole mission is to exchange anything green and growing with others,” according to organizer Pat Keith. Bring early vegetable harvests, bouquets of flowers, plant starts, or perennial divisions to share. Non-perishable donations may be left at the church any time on Friday or call Pat at 563-1981 by Thursdays at 6 p.m. to arrange for pickup. RSVP your planned participation by emailing patakeith@gmail.com or calling.

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