The rainy weather in the last few months has not been good for local gardens. A disease known as late blight is killing tomato and potato plants throughout Connecticut.
Joan Allen is a pathologist at the University of Connecticut's Plant Diagnostic Lab. She confirmed the state's first case of late blight in June. Now the blight has spread into six of Connecticut's eight counties due to the rain and cooler temperatures that have dominated this year's growing season.
Allen describes what gardeners should look out for on their tomato and potato plants.
"On the leaves they would notice large spots the size of a nickel or larger. They can be olive-greenish brown to dark brown. There can also be dark brown to almost black lesions on the stem. And tomato fruits can also have brown lesions on them as well."
Allen recommends gardeners remove and bag the diseased plants immediately before throwing them away. She adds, treating plants with fungicides has a minimum impact.
"for home gardeners, they can try as a preventative not a cure, products containing Chlorothalonil as the active ingredient. For organic gardeners, they can try copper containing fungicides. But we have seen infections in plants that have been treated with those."
Late blight spread throughout the Northeast from tomato seedlings that were imported from the South and sold at big box stores. It's the same fungus that caused the potato famine in Ireland.
Residents can contact the UConn Home and Garden Education Center for more information on late blight at 877-486-6271