Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Powdery Mildew on Zucchini

Over the past few days, our zucchini plants have developed these patches of white chalky powder. Somewhere in the back of my head I remembered a plant ailment called "powdery mildew" and thought...hmmm if the name fits the description, we might be onto something here. So I looked it up, and I'm pretty sure that's what's going on.

I'm really not thrilled with the idea of spraying chemicals on our food, it sort of defeats the point of us growing a garden in the first place. So I looked up some natural remedies.

The first one I found was a baking soda solution where you mix 3 Tbsp baking soda to a gallon of water. I still might give this one a try, but it makes me a little nervous. I'm wondering if this might deposit sodium in the soil. (shown left: This is a healthy plant to show the difference)

The second method was a milk mixture. It's 1 part milk to 9 parts water. You spray it on the leaves (undersides too) and re-apply after the rain. We've only used one application, so I'll keep you informed as to how it works.

After I stumbled upon the milk spray, I found a lot of information about the correlation of milk to pumpkin and squash plants. Have any of you read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy. It was one of my favorites in the series. In the story, Almanzo (Laura's future husband) raises a milk fed pumpkin, and if I remember right, he wins first prize at the fair.

It seems that there is a lot of debate on garden forums as to whether milk has any effect on pumpkin vines. Some say it's hog wash, others claim that there are beneficial enzymes, good bacteria and nutrients like calcium that help the plants to flourish.

Do you have any powdery mildew fixes? I'd love to hear them. And let me know what you think about the milk fed pumpkin. Remember the Pumpkin Growing Contest is this October! Maybe milk is the key to winning,... after all it worked for Almanzo.


Laura said...

I'm trying kaolin clay this year. You mix it with water and spray on the plants. It's supposed to help with powdery mildew, mexican bean beetles and vine borers. If it works I will be very, very happy!

Homemade Easy said...

Homemade Easy said...

Having trouble posting here. Above link is from my blog. I have photos of my potted garden there.

My zucci is about the same size as yours.

Recipe from my sister.

1 gallon warm water
1 T murphy oil
2 T baking soda

mix & put in hand sprayer. Soak soak leaves. Every week - 10 days.

These plants love heat. Do you have humidity?
Best to you. I enjoy your blog.

Beth S. said...

Re: milk fed pumpkin... it'll only have enzymes, etc. if it's raw milk, Jennifer. ;)

I'm interested to learn how things are working for you, as year after year my paltry little garden is assaulted by all kinds of 'stuff' (powdery mildew gone wild on my pumpkins last year, blight in my tomatoes, etc.) & I don't like to use "-icides" either.

Jennifer Sartell said...

Ha true!

With the garden, so far things are going pretty good. Every thing is so fat and plump. I'm used to pale and leggy with all the shade at the last house. The turnips and radishes are being eaten by flea beetles, and the powdery mildew on the zucchini. We have some slug damage on the beans and tomatoes, but nothing too bad. Right now the biggest frustration is that things just didn't come up. We planted self pollinating beans and none of the black ones sprouted. None of our beets sprouted, only 12 of the 40 sunflowers sprouted... and there's lots more examples. But on the flip, the zucchini has sprouted all new leaves in the past couple of days and they're green and shiny, so I'm going to keep it up.

Caroline J. Baines said...

Hi Jennifer,

Did the milk spray work? I've got powdery mildew on my goose berries...

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