Mildew.. The hard lessons.


Date:17 Mar 2024

Well it is quite obvious that powdery mildew kicked my but this year😂... So what did I learn?

While I thought the damp humid weather brought powdery mildew, I did not really fully understand it. Powdery mildew hates wet. We can drown it, what it does love is the clean damaged leaves after rain. Small cuts and tears from rain drops give the spores access. Then the warm dry weather gives it the ideal conditions to thrive. 

Again, I thought blight and mildew come from the soil, well in the case of mildew, it is from airborne spores. These are from anywhere there is a flowering mildew. It gets carried in by birds, cats and mostly by ourselves from our daily travels. We are exposed to so many different versions of mildew, and there are many versions of powdery mildew and each one has a favourite host. The mildew on zuchinni can be a very different species from what is on the tomatoes. 

The mildew we see on the leaves, even the first little spot is too late, as this is a flower. The mildew starts under the leaf in the case of zuchinni, so when we see the flower it has already released the spores. 

Lady bugs love the mildew. They do not bring it, the come to gardens that have it... And every garden has mildew! They do spread what you have around more though. They  do need to eat, so they can stay, and this is a great tool to know that there is glowering mildew to search for. 

So what is this year's plan....? Well firstly a strict schedule of Neem. Mildew hates it, but rain washes it away, so it is not a great preventative, but rather active management of any spores that have taken hold and developing. I am also actively lowering the soil ph a little my average is 6.8 so will go down a little and aim for 6.5 or a little lower using gypsum. I wil have Olla pots in all the gardens before spring so no overhead watering. Pruning of tomatoes will be after a neem spraying and I will have a isopropyl alchhol spray to spray the secatures between cuts. The seedlings will get a low dose copper spray while on the greenhouse before planting so I don't get too much copper in the beds. 

Calandula will not be used as a companion plant near zuchinni and tomatoes, as this is whee I suspect my problems started. My first tomatoes that I destroyed were in the same trays as the calendula, which seemed to really harvest the mildew. I am sure I will get lots of volunteers from the seeds dropped over the season, so wil need to be vigilent 😂

Let me know what has worked, or not worked for you in the comments😊

Mildew.. The hard lessons.