Monday, July 12, 2010

Organic Gardening Blues

After getting tomatoes earlier this year and having a much drier spring, I felt confident that the I was out of the woods with respect to tomato diseases. Unfortunately, this was not the case. I suspected a fungus had attacked 3 of my plants and had this confirmed at Merrifield's plant help desk. An organic gardener then faces a decision: Do I rip & dispose of these plants or do I succumb to using a conventional fungicide?

It's a really hard decision. To take out those plants means taking out all the canning tomatoes that I've nurtured for months. Plus, since I have a small garden, every space counts. Removal takes out 1/3 of my total tomato crop and 1/2 of my non-cherry tomato crop. But, if I did spray, the plants would have significantly less pesticides than conventional produce in the grocery store. However, then it's not an organic garden. Do I lose potential yield or do I go against my organic beliefs?

Ultimately, I did a hybrid approach: remove the plants with significant fungal issues and spot treat the plants near it with conventional fungicide (my husband actually did this). I'm not entirely pleased with this decision, but it's the decision I made. I feel like a bit of a hypocrite, honestly. Last year I also had fungal issues (and pulled out those plants) so I think going forward I'll only purchase seeds resistant to the common tomato fungi. And, of course, I'm going continue to be as sanitary as possible when handling my tomatoes.

Perhaps next year, then, this type of decision won't have to be made.

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