“Tis because we be on a blighted star, and not a sound one, isn’t it Tess?”
I decided to start this post as I ended the last – with a literary quote (welcome to Pseuds Corner). But this week I have been thinking about the term “blighted” and sought out its use in literature. It is used to describe something that has a severe detrimental effect; that inflicts great suffering. It has an old-fashioned ring to it and finding its use in Tess of the D’Urbervilles feels apposite for the Midlife Garden, as rural disaster and destruction have struck. We are, indeed, blighted.
I first noticed the potatoes were showing the tell-tale signs of blight at the start of the week. Brown spots on the leaves, and stems that were turning to mush meant only one thing so I quickly took the tops off and disposed of them. It is not the first time we have had potato blight and I am hopeful that the spuds in the ground can be saved.
In retrospect should not have been surprised by the appearance of blight. The weather has been warm and damp recently – ideal conditions for the spores to spread and do their work. So the earlies are saved, and the main crop should be fine as they are Sarpo Mira, which are blight resistant. We hope.
The same cannot be said of the tomatoes. Blight has struck them too – but there is no saving the vast majority of them. For a moment, I felt as my father did when the cows destroyed his whole crop of Brussels Sprouts. The beefsteak tomatoes – such as the pineapple tomato – were looking stunning but needed a few more weeks to ripen while the Gardeners Delight and Sungolds had only recently started to produce ripe fruit. Instead they were all gone. I picked as many ripe but unrotted tomatoes and disposed of the reast, with the plants.
I was upset for a moment, but avoided a plunge into Hardy-esque gloom. In the MLG we refuse to be resigned to our fate and will make the most of whatever life throws at us. We might be on a blighted star, but we will do our best to enjoy our stay on it, as best we can.