The tomato crop has been crushed to a large extent this year nationwide, thanks to a fungus that started in nurseries in the US South where the plants were sprouted, before spreading via being shipped and sold at nurseries across the country. Maybe you’ve noticed the price increase of tomatoes at groceries this summer due to growers being forced to destroy so many plants. (And maybe you see a political allegory in my recounting.)
If my experience is any indication, the West seems to be less impacted due to drier growing conditions; but in the Northeast, where a soggy summer is playing out, it’s been disastrous.
Here in Los Angeles, I got two plants at an independent nursery in Hollywood and a third at the Home Depot on Figueroa.
Late blight, at first characterized by small brown spots on the leaves, spread and turned them yellow and then brown. But it didn’t seem to slow down the explosion of blossoms and tomatoes that formed on my plants.
Then, I woke up one morning and found about a third of my green tomatoes rotting on the vine. Turns out it only ruins part of the tomato. The rotting part seemed to dry out from the sun’s heat as the fruit ripened around it. The blighted parts can be cut off and the taste and texture of the untouched part is unaffected.
I’ve been picking tomatoes at the first hint of ripening yellow and that seems to have headed off any rotting on the untouched ones. I should note that the blight has affected the large tomatoes much more than the cherries.
Faced by a growing number of tomatoes and inspired by that early cooking scene in Julie and Julia, I’m making bruschetta tonight to try and get in front of the wave.
So, all in all, yum.
Photos by CP