We planted a lot of different things this spring, from herbs to beets to cabbage to corn, but we looked forward to nothing so much as we did the tomatoes. We sprouted them in early April on our roof in Brooklyn, taking advantage of a 10 degree temperature difference that meant the difference between germination and torpor.
The seeds sprouted beautifully-we had about a 95% germination rate-and in late May we drove the little plants upstate to the farm, where we’d made nice beds for them. In they went, rows of small but hardy-looking shoots of green against the near-black dirt of the Catskills.
And then the rain began. Our land drains poorly, we discovered, and when our soil gets a blast of rain, it hangs on to it. But even if we’d had Venetian canal diggers on hand to reroute the runoff, we would have been at risk of what finally wiped our every last one of our plants last week: the quaintly named, brutally effective fungus known as Late Blight.
It’s some consolation knowing that much better and more experienced farmers suffered the same fate, but nothing will assuage the pain completely until we’re slicing sun-warm brandywines from our garden, sprinkling them with salt, and laying them between a couple slices of mayonnaise-slathered white bread…next August.