Monday, August 9, 2010

Deal With It Quickly

I don't have much time to post today.  I have a list of things to do that I can not put off.  I wanted to come in and update my vast audience on a few things that might prevent some heartache down the road.

I got a terrible case of powdery mildew on my vining plants recently.  The stuff is awful!  I really thought mildew was a damp climate issue, but evidently that is not the case with plants. In fact, the hot dry days we have so many of out here seem to be the cause of the wretched stuff. It seems to love, but is certainly not limited to vining, big leafed plants, particularly cucurbitaceae.  

I had no idea what it was to begin with. It starts out in small, round patches and can be easily overlooked.  Well, I guess I should say that people relatively new to gardening,  as I am, can easily overlook it.  It spreads quickly and soon covers the whole leaf.  At that point the leaves become brittle and crush easily.  From what I've observed, when it hits that stage it is all but over for those poor plants.  

My cucumbers were hit hardest and first, and I didn't realize what it was.  Actually, I thought maybe it was heat and sun that caused it, but I thought it was burning them and drying them out, not causing mildew.  Like I said, I thought mildew was a damp climate problem, so I did not look into it until it got so bad that it was too late for some of them.  I got a few cucumbers, but quickly the damage got to the severe stage and the produce was stunted and, well, unappealing.  Sadly, it is a total waste. I can not compost any of the plants that have any mildew at all on them because it will infect the whole compost bin. 

I researched it a bit and found that there are two effective ways of dealing with it organically and inexpensively.  First, no matter which method you choose, you have to remove the leaves with mildew because it spreads so easily you would never get rid of it if any were left.  One is a mixture of water and milk of all things, mixed at nine parts water to one part milk. The other is baking soda and water mixed one tablespoon to a quart off water. Supposedly either will work better than any 'store bought' treatment. Although the information I found said the milk is actually the best treatment, I sprayed the plants with the baking soda water mostly because I happened to have lots off it and only a little milk.  I will let you know how it works.

There are fungicides you can purchase.  I can not use the oil  that some people recommend because I have read it is unsafe for the plants in climates where the temperatures are over ninety degrees. It doesn't seem like that leaves too many places where it can be used!  

My best advice after having gone through this:  BE AWARE!!  I think if I had seen it early and known what it was and what to do, I might have been able to curb it considerable or possibly head it off entirely.  If you see it do not wait to treat it.  That's probably one of the big lessons of this gardening season; keep watch and whatever it is, deal with it quickly

I do not know yet what I am supposed to do to treat the soil  to prevent it from coming back year after year.  If anyone knows, please tell me.  I would  like to keep it in the all natural/organic realm if at all possible.  I  must admit, though, I would be willing to cave in and use a chemical just this one time to treat the soil for this menace, if there is such a chemical and that were my only effective choice.  I will work on rebuilding it and overcoming the effects of the chemical later on if I must.  I do not want to do this again!  It is really bad.

On a good note, I have some girl pumpkin blossoms!!  I have had watermelon, cantaloupe, and a lot of gourds coming on their vines for a while now, but no pumpkins until now.  I'm very excited.  I love pumpkins.  I bought a variety that is supposed to be good for pie and hopefully pumpkin butter, which I've threatened to make for years and never have.  If I never made a thing I would still grow them if I could  because they are so beautiful.  I usually make a nice beef or elk stew in the fall and bake it in a pumpkin.  That is a family favorite, and almost a tradition now, so I need at least one nice, fatty for that!

The corn is corning, and the cow peas are peaing (LOL).  The tomatoes are amazing, delicious, very productive, and as tall as my head!  I am having onions now although they are a bit small.   I was sort of unclear on how to deal with them and I think maybe I should have thinned or separated them early on.  Yeah, okay, a no brainer, but lesson learned.  I did not handle my potatoes quite right either, I don't think.  I have yet to check up on them. I may do that later today.  

On that note, I leave you with a favorite quote:

“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to it’s liberty and interests by the most lasting bands.”
-Thomas Jefferson

Be blessed!