Posted (Deb) in News

Dear CSA Member,

I think that we knew in our hearts that it was a matter of time, but continued to do everything we could to keep our tomatoes and potatoes free of blight. The unrelenting rain and cold weather have been ideal conditions for the fungus that is Late Blight to thrive. After the blight was first discovered on transplants in the western part of the state, it has moved quickly across the state fueled by the perfect weather conditions. Last week the Late Blight hit our fields and we needed to take down all of the tomatoes and remove the vines of the potatoes.

There will be no tomatoes this year. We consulted with the Cornell Vegetable Specialist for our area and we were advised to remove and destroy all of the plant material from the tomato crop and take down all of the potato vines. I can’t put into words how disheartening the whole process has been. The Vegetable Specialist said that there is barely a farm without blight in our area, conventional or organic, but it is little comfort.

We know how much members look forward to tomatoes of summer and have worked at our tomato crop for months. Seedings were started in March, transplants planted in May, all of the tomato plants were staked in June. We had three different plantings because we planned to have an extended harvest and all three needed to be removed from the fields. All of the stakes that we have used will need to be disinfected and the twine destroyed. The blight is not supposed to overwinter, but we needed to take every precaution to insure that we have future harvests of potatoes and tomatoes.

The potatoes are underground and as long as we removed the vines early enough, the harvest should be fine. Pete bush hogged the vines as close to the soil as possible. The next day we received 4 inches of rain and some of the potatoes on the top of the hills were exposed. We have been picking those potatoes all day, again in the rain.

For a more positive note, we have beautiful vegetables this week again in abundance in your share. This is the advantage to having such a diversified farm.

I would also like to let members know that we are still planning on the Member Farm Visit the second Saturday in September. We have been a bit reluctant to make many plans because this summer a good day is one that is just heavy rain without thunder and lightning and the cellar hasn’t flooded. I will send more information next week about the farm visit.

Enjoy the vegetables-the share is beautiful – Deborah, for everyone at Stoneledge Farm

Maggie on August 3rd, 2009 at 10:49 am #

Ok Guys, thanks to some inspiration from Steven I have finally conquered the bitter radicchio. Split it, wash it, toss it with olive oil and roast it up. It gets crispy like Kale and the bitterness caramelizes a little so its not so intense. Just mellow and delicious as a side dish or on a sandwich…

Steve S. on August 3rd, 2009 at 9:51 pm #

Dear Pete, Deb, and Peter,

As a city dweller with a brown thumb (I’m talkin’ an inability even to grow weeds successfully), I sit in constant amazement of your ability to take whatever Mother Nature throws at you and consistently send us gorgeous produce. I guess I’m saying that, as for tomatoes: if you all couldn’t do it, it couldn’t be done. We’ll have tomatoes next year. In the meantime, thank you for trying and for all that you send us.

Sincerely, Steve, Stephanie, & Charlie

P.S. – Charlie is 9 months old and has already enjoyed the following from the farm: eggplant, summer squash, blueberries, peaches, plums, and cucumbers.

Steven on August 4th, 2009 at 11:35 am #

Patricia Janof adds the following:

You’ve probably read about Late Blight in the papers. The N.Y. Times, July 17: “A highly contagious fungus that destroys tomato plants has quickly spread to nearly every state in the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic.” Same paper, July 29: “Ripe local tomatoes, keenly anticipated by growers and cooks, will be missing from many markets, farm stands and farm shares this summer.” Stoneledge Farm went to extraordinary lengths to protect our tomatoes and potatoes, but in the end, the unusual wet, cold weather defeated their best attempts. According to Cornell’s Bill Frye, one of the world’s leading authorities on the disease, this is the earliest and worst epidemic he’s ever seen…. The outbreak is believed to have spread from the hundreds of thousands of tomato plants sold from big box garden stores, such as Wal-Mart or Lowe’s. This strand of late blight is so contagious that a single open lesion on a plant can produce hundreds of thousands of infectious spores. Windy weather helps the spores to spread and the rain pushes the spores down into the ground. On the other hand, hot, sunny weather could dramatically slow or eliminate the fungi’s spread… If you would like to find out more information on late blight and what the symptoms look like, please refer to Cornell University’s IPM [Integrated Pest Management] web page,

Ellen Zachos on August 4th, 2009 at 5:47 pm #

Hi Deb, As a professional gardener I’ve been aware of the late blight and keeping my fingers crossed. This is what CSAs are all about: we take the risk with you. As Steve said, we’ll have tomatoes next year (fingers crossed) and till then, we’ll enjoy everything else you send us!

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