Thursday, August 20, 2009

We've Been Blighted

As in many other gardens across the country, our potatoes have been hit by the potato blight.

This year I planted four rows of red potatoes and two rows of white. All of the reds, except for two plants, show severe signs of the blight. Only one plant of all the white potatoes so far looks to be infected.

I decided to go the route of cutting off all the infected plants at ground level and burning them. Hopefully, this will keep the fungus from spreading to the still healthy plants in the patch.

If the fungus has already reached the tubers below the soil, we're in trouble. We'll know by the appearance of the potatoes when we dig them. If they're deformed, discolored and just plain yucky looking, they'll be inedible. Or they may look okay but will be very poor keepers.

The above potatoes were dug yesterday after we removed the plants. They look really good, but obviously haven't had time for the skins to "harden" enough for good storage.

The biggest potato weighed in at 1 pound 4 ounces. The mug I put in the shot for comparison is 4" across and 3-1/2" high. Pretty nice looking sample of taters, I would say. We're keeping our fingers crossed for what we'll find when we dig the main crop in about a month.

P.S. Obviously, I'm still having trouble with my blog format. I can get a post up but the form is not right, and I know it makes it hard to read. Sorry . . . hopefully I can get it straightened out soon.


Melissa said...

Mama Pea, how do you tell if it's blight as opposed to something else? All our stems died as well, but not sure what caused it. Thanks! Good luck with your taters!

Mama Pea said...

I'm sure not an expert on potato blight but from the pictures I've seen, that's what I've narrowed it down to be. I guess I'm at a loss to know what else it might be but if anyone has any other ideas, I'd like to hear them. We've never had this problem before but because many gardeners seem to have it this year, I feel it's not an impossibility for us.

I don't know where you're located but if ALL of your stems died, could it just be the end of the season natural die-off for you?

Jo said...

Hello --
We got the same thing in our garden this year, I too assumed it was blight and cut down all of our plants. I was worried that it would pass to our tomatoes. Like you, I am waiting a few weeks to pull taters out of the ground, hoping for a harder skin.
It seemed to start in one section of the potato patch, and then progress outward to the rest of the plants.

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Jo - Same thing in our garden. Started in one part and then spread. We'll all have to be sure not to plant tomatoes or potatoes in that same section of the garden for a couple of years. Spores live in the soil. I don't know what to do to get "rid" of the fungus. This has been a pretty poopy gardening year, hasn't it?

Erin said...

I really hope the rest of your healthy plants do okay, I am so jealous of you having cold storage places like basements and closets in winter up there it would be a shame to not be able to fill your spaces with goodies! Down here my only options is to eat them all after digging! No basements, no cold areas of the house, no mudrooms, terrible for potatoes, garlic, shallots, onions....which happen to be my favorites!

Mama Pea said...

Erin - Isn't it funny . . . up here we're jealous of your long planting/growing season but never stop to think about the disadvantages of your warm/wet climate and inability to have good storage such as a root cellar. I guess it just goes to prove we all face our own particular gardening challenges.