I Don’t Like Nature Anymore (Powdery Mildew Happened)

Remember how the other day I posted this little piece about the glory of Nature? Well, I take it back. Nature is a jerk.

Powdery Mildew aka Big Stupid Mess

This, friends, is Powdery Mildew. I woke up this morning to discover that this had settled all over my squash and peas overnight. I researched this mess and found some pretty great info through Colorado State University.

The vegetables that it hits are usually your peas and cucurbits (such as squashes, melons, and cucumbers). It spreads quickly and leads to distorted leaves, plant tissue death, and diminished vigour. I did what that link advised:

  • All affected plant parts were removed and disposed of in the trash (not compost), so that this gross fungus will hopefully be stopped in its tracks. My pea plants are completely gone. My squash and courgette vines are sad straggles.
  • I sprayed the sorry remains of my squash plants- as well as my (so far unaffected) cucumber plants- with sulphur, a fungicide. I bought it cheap in powder form and mixed a bit of it with water in a spray bottle.

Here are some tips to prevent fungal spread to the peas and cucurbits in your garden from Rodale’s Garden Problem Solver:

  • Limit overhead watering to early in the day
  • Thin plants to let in sun and air for improved circulation
  • Plant resistant varieties
  • Don’t fertilize until the mildew is controlled
  • Do not work around the plants when they are wet
  • Apply a sulphur or copper-based fungicide every 7-10 days
  • Disinfect any gardening equipment you use for the plants with a bleach solution (1 part household bleach to four parts water)

Take THAT, Nature!

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: surely it is impossible for one garden to have this much drama. Perhaps you watch a lot of Dr. Phil and even believe that I am creating all this garden drama because I am addicted to crises.

Well, here’s one more crisis just to prove how right you are: some mysterious force has been cutting off my little lettuce seedlings where the base of the stem meets the soil. I suspect cutworm. I did a little digging around the crime scene and couldn’t find any of the bugs, but I still made anti-cutworm protective cardboard collars for some seedlings (buried 1-2″ below the soil and covering 1″ above the soil). If the protected seedlings die, at least I can rule out cutworm.

This summer, Nature has brought my garden the mysterious tomato wilt apocalypse, a swarm of disease-spreading cucumber beetles, an infuriating and absolutely grotesque horde of vine borers, a Stage 2 Drought, unsightly catfacing, greedy cutworm, and now the pouffy stupidness that is powdery mildew. What’s next? A tsunami? Terrorist rabbits with eyes that shoot lasers?

OK, OK, I’m frustrated today. But overall, I’m still grateful for Nature and all of its gifts and beauty and lessons. Unless it actually does send that tsunami.