We harvested tomatoes, green beans and peppers. That was the first task. And after we put the bags of fresh vegetables on the picnic table to go back to the community center for snack, we rolled up our sleeves and set to work.
Our job for the day was to treat the pumpkins, zucchini, yellow squash and cucumbers that are infected with powdery mildew, a fungal disease. Before everyone arrived for a morning of gardening, I prepared two remedies for powdery mildew so we could conduct an experiment. The participants in the Family Gardening Program were divided into two teams.
In some plots Team A sprayed the leaves of the susceptible plants with a milk and water mix. In other plots Team B used baking soda and water. Now we wait and watch to see if one group of plants does better than another.
The dozen or so children were curious about the disease. They wanted information on how the plant got the disease, what it does to the plant and if it had any impact on the vegetables since the problem appears to be just on the leaves. Good questions! Smart Kids!
Powdery Mildew is a widespread problem for gardeners and there are lots of different forms of this disease. The fungi germinate spores when the humidity is high. Remember the weather the week of July 18th?
The disease thrives where plants are crowded and air circulation is poor. And when it gets hold, powdery mildew will coat leaves a whitish gray, then leaves turn yellow and wither. Buds often fail to open. It can impact the flavor of any vegetables on the plant.
So what can we do? Gardeners can space plants for good air flow, buy seeds that are disease resistant and if they see a problem, remove infested leaves quickly. Wash your hands so you don’t transport spores and then treat the plants like we are doing in the Moreau Community Garden.
All diseased materials should go in the trash bin and not the compost pile.
We put signs up in the garden were we sprayed. If you’re curious, take a look.