Powdery Mildew: Ick

Sooner or later, everyone comes up against this garden issue.

 

Powdery mildew. Just another garden problem. While it may not kill your plants, it certainly stresses them out, reducing the productivity and makes them really ugly. In spite of the “mildew” moniker, it’s actually a fungus, spread by airborne pathogens. And it is not the result of cold wet weather, but humidity and temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees. It overwinters in plant debris, so be sure to thoroughly clean up around and areas where it was in the garden. I’ve found two effective remedies, the first being Potassium Bicarbonate, mixed 1-2 tablespoons per gallon of water, sprayed thoroughly on the tops and undersides of the plants. The second, product, Safer’s 3 in 1 Garden Spray. One home remedy that is being studied, scientifically studied, is using a 20-50% solution of whole milk and water. In other words, you can try spraying a mix of half milk and half water. I’ve not tried the milk spray, but I can attest to the success of the Safer 3 in 1. Worked miracles on my peonies.

Winging It: Best Bird Book for Kids

Into the Nest : This book has been officially approved by the neighbor kids. Earlier this summer, a mama Mourning .dove made a nest on a branch just outside their dining room window. Low and behold! Not one, but two eggs were laid. Chicks arrived and the kids’ window to nature went live. The boys were quite concerned about how the babies were going to get fed and what the mama bird was getting to eat. Alas! We found the answer, “pigeon milk.” Into the Nest: Intimate Views of the Courting, Parenting, and Family Lives of Familiar Birds gets a five star rating from the new birders and me.

Into the Nest: An Intimate Guide to the Family Lives of Familiar Birds

From one of my favorite books, ever: HARVEST

Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis are rock stars to me. Whether they are growing, styling, eating, or creating gardens, I love everything they do. I borrowed this photo from their Instagram feed, and it doesn’t do it justice in the sidebar. I want you to see it in a larger format, and be inspired to add your borage blossoms to your sparkling water, ginger ale, or yes, champagne.

Borage blossoms and bubbly (from Harvest, published by Ten Speed Press).

The Chelsea Chop (or pruning your perennials for productivity)

By the Fourth of July, you can and should prune your perennials to keep them looking good and performing as long as possible. In England, this is called the Chelsea Chop, and it coincides with the Chelsea Garden Show in May. Our season starts much later than England’s, so we do the chop by the 4th of July. Since the biggest flush of blooms occurs in May and June, July works well as a mid season clean up time.

I don’t think sedums such as Matrona or Autumn Joy respond well to this kind of pruning, so I leave them alone. But I do clean up roses, daylilies, alliums, daisies, lavender (if it is finished blooming), dahlias (disbud for larger blooms), lilacs, forsythia, echinaceas, heleniumsm,  Joe Pye weed and phlox.

If the idea of whacking back your perennial/herbaceous borders makes you shake, read up on it in The Well Tended Perennial Garden, by plant wizard, Tracy DiSabato-Aust. The book is so good, I have recommended it for YEARS. It’s been updated again, so get the Third Edition.