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The Pesky Pest & Dreaded Disease Corner: Problems with Powdery Mildew - Megen Toaldo, Sales Associate  


Powdery MidlewAs it consistently does year after year, powdery mildew travels north with the wind from the southern states and finds its way into your garden. The warm days and cool nights of late summer provide an ideal environment for the growth and spread of the spores that are responsible for this disease. Caused by the fungus Podosphaera xanthii, powdery mildew can affect just about any type of plant, and is easily recognized by a powdery looking growth on upper and lower leaf surfaces.  While the effects are mild for many types of plants, others such as cucurbits, onions, artichokes, apples, pears, and grapes can be damaged more seriously, causing reduced yields and early death of the plant.

Fortunately, there are early measures that one can take to prevent and control powdery mildew.  Prevention is easy by using proper plant spacing with good air circulation, along with choosing resistant or tolerant varieties.  Although – rest assured – there are several ways to control an infestation should one occur.  Spraying your plants with a solution of baking soda and water (1 tsp: 1 qt) raises the Ph, which creates an unfriendly environment for the fungus to grow.  Another solution (albeit one that we haven’t tried ourselves) was discovered by Wagner Bettiol, a scientist from Brazil: spray your plants with a combination of 1 part cow’s milk with 9 parts water.  Along with controlling the disease, it also acts as a foliar fertilizer, boosting the plant’s immune system.  While raw cow’s milk has proven to have the best effects, it seems that any cow’s milk will do its part in helping to control powdery mildew.  Try using a sticker such as ThermX-70 or Crocker’s Fish Oil; otherwise both these applications will need to be repeated after rain.

Now that you are in the know, you can enjoy helping your garden grow!  Tune in next month for information about late blight in tomatoes and potatoes.

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