Here’s how my head, which is always lost in the garden, I guess, works: The first thing I thought about when the pandemic started—when we got news of a new pathogen in the world—was how many plant pathogens I’ve written about in my career, and the trajectories of each of them.
Dr. Margaret McGrath is a longtime vegetable pathologist for Cornell University, whom I’ve turned to over and again to better understand many such plant diseases. Meg, in turn, turns to backyard gardeners, like us, to help her learn more about basil downy mildew and late blight in tomatoes and, now, cucurbit downy mildew too.
It’s true, she wants to know what we’re seeing in our backyards. We can help her and vice versa.
Besides her role as a scientist at Cornell’s Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center in Riverhead, New York, Meg McGrath is a keen gardener. Her applied research aims to improve the management of important vegetable diseases, and develop effective components for integrated pest management programs.