The other day I received a call regarding an invasive species coming up in someone’s perennial bed among some plants she had received from a friend. But as it often goes, along with the plants we want in our gardens, come plants we don’t want. In this case, the plant she was calling about was Creeping Bellflower or European Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides). [Read more…]
Archives for June 2017
Over the weekend, I noticed powdery mildew on my zuchinni plants. Darn, I had that problem last year, too, but didn’t realize what it was until it had become quite persistent. Seems like it was a constant battle no matter what I did.
The most effective combatant was a 1/1 solution of milk and water, so this year I immediately got out my sprayer and mixed up a new batch. They say it doesn’t matter what percent fat in the milk; it’s the protein that works to kill off the mildew. I sprayed both top and bottom of all the leaves, and since the mildew was just beginning to show, I only removed one leaf from the plant. I’ll need to respray the plants every week from now on; more, if the mildew starts to show again. I also understand spraying in the sunshine is a big help. It’s the interaction between the sun and proteins in the milk that controls the powdery mildew.
What is Powdery Mildew?
Powdery mildew is a powdery white coating that forms on the leaves and stems of some plants. I’ve had a problem with it on my Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra) and Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) plants in my mesic prairie. Although the mildew does not typically kill perennial plants, it hinders photosynthesis. In the case of the squash, new zucchinis typically didn’t grow well last year and some even died on the vine. And, the plant itself died off before the typical end of season.
Mildew is spread by spores carried by the wind and rain generally. It likes humid weather, and thrives in wet conditions — not because it likes it wet — but because it finds crowded, overgrown plants and poor air circulation among them great conditions to cause havoc. Once the humidity of our hot summers dissipates, the spores tend to disappear, too. But they can over-winter on plants or plant debris and start the process all over again with the humidity of a new summer. So, don’t intermingle powdery mildew plants with other plant debris when cleaning your gardens in the fall.
I also learned that the different species of powdery mildew fungus have different preferred hosts, so using a milk spray for squash may not have the same effect on other plants affected my mildew.
Good luck this summer.
Fireflies, or lighting bugs as my dad used to call them, are a glowing. We usually see them from the middle of June into July in our backyard.
Fireflies, however, are actually not flies at all; they are beetles. There are over 170 species of this awesome insect found in North America with most of them found east of the Mississippi — probably because they like moist soils and decaying organic matter where slugs and worms and other larvae live. [Read more…]
Everyone talks about bees and monarchs as pollinators, but few people mention one of our most unique pollinators — the bat. I was surprised to learn that bats provide pollination for over 500 different types of tropical plants along with many other non-tropical plants such as corn and the agave plants from which tequila is made — one of favorite liquors! These bats are frugivores; they eat fruit, seeds, nectar, pollen, etc. [Read more…]