A lot can happen in the garden over a week, and so you find there's never a really good time to take a week's holiday. Still, I prepare as much as possible, pack my bags and hope for the best - and here I am, a week later, assessing the damage. At this time of year I tend to worry most about getting a scorching hot week and returning to a patchwork of dead and wilted hopes and dreams. However what I got this round was a warmish week of light rain, cloud cover and humidity - and while that might seem like a better deal, my crop of swedes copped the raw end of it.
I planted these guys at the end of August, and as a winter crop, that's about as late as you want to plant them in my neck of the woods. It's the first time I've tried growing swedes, and up until now they've been entirely self maintaining - and thus quickly working themselves to becoming a regular winter staple of my garden. But the powdery mildew currently spreading across the leaves is a pretty big first problem.
|Pumpkin is still in the clear.|
|Zucchini in the eternal cherry tomato bed.|
Then its time to start with the heavy artillery, using a little trick known by cows ever since bovine-kind began intensively farming cucurbits. So armed with a pressure sprayer, I covered the foliage with a full-cream milk spray, mixed one part milk to six parts water. Milk has some awesome anti-fungal qualities that should help to prevent further spores getting a new foothold on the leaves - but you don't want to go overboard with the milk in the mix, because that will open the door to other problems. I've also chosen to spray in the morning so the plants have the full day to dry out again. It's also a good opportunity to spray the pumpkin and zucchini with the leftover milk mix, because if there's mildew anywhere in the yard, it'll only be a matter of time before its everywhere.
The final step is to sit back... and hope.