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Posted: Tuesday, Sep. 02, 2008

Tomatoes wither, but tasks blossom

Published in: Food

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We had to go to the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market on a recent Saturday with nothing but eggs. Our tomatoes are done and, after all the rain, it was too wet to dig potatoes.

Our tomatoes were finally done in by a combination of drought and late blight, a devastating disease that shows up around the end of August.

We went from picking hundreds of pounds of tomatoes a week to less than 50 pounds. When I checked the tomato patch two days after that, I did not see one tomato fit to eat. Nothing but dead vines.

There are ways around late blight. If I was smart like Dane and Maria of Fisher Farms, I would have started a fall crop of tomatoes in mid-May to transplant in July. Young tomato plants seem to resist late blight and go on to produce in the fall.

I fully intended to start a fall tomato crop, and I had the varieties picked out and put the seed packets prominently on the middle of my desk to remind myself.

But the cool weather in mid-May gave us fits, we grew twice as much garlic and potatoes that we started harvesting in mid-June, and we raised more chickens than we have ever had. Mid-May slipped into mid-July.

It is very cool to have more to do than you can possibly do when it is something you love to do. A blessing disguised as work and we are grateful for it.

Dean Mullis writes from Laughing Owl Farm in Richfield; demullis@vnet.com.

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