Sunday, June 7, 2009

Powdery Mildew Woes

This crappy cloudy June gloom really isn't helping my balcony gardening attempt at all. As if sunshine wasn't already in short supply! I haven't seen the sun out shining solidly for more then 15 minutes in almost 2 weeks. Theres just all these broken up little thunderstorm clouds that keep blocking out the sun and occasionally looking very dark and threatening us with thunder/rain a couple of times a day. Its very bizarre for this area. Usually we just get some "June Gloom" which is a marine fog in the mornings that burns off by the afternoon, but theres usually no actual rain involved.

I think the high humidity, stormy weather and unseasonably cool ( 68-70ish) weather has jump started powdery mildew on my chard plants. It started on the bright lights chard, so I moved them off the balcony completely and set it inside next to the glass door for light- but today I went to check on my 'Fordhook Giant' chard that was growing wonderfully in its windowbox and saw some of the leaves looking "droopy". To my sadness and horror all the leaves have faint spots all over of telltale powdery mildew fuzz. Argh! I tried to trim off as many of the larger leaves with spots as I could, the newest leaves int he center of the clumps don't seem to have any-yet. Unfortunately as careful as I was trying to be when I was cutting off the outer leaves I could see 'puffs' of white dust coming off the leaves. boo! Now I'll need to play around with either a diluted milk spray or a baking soda spray, I'm trying to avoid the neem oil as my tomato plant really needs the help of every bee that happens to find it, I don't want to risk spraying anything that could hurt the bees.

I've never dealt with PM on my chard before, last year when I had that crazy double planted 15 foot row packed with chard it didn't show any signs of it until the humid dog days of August and the squash & cucumber were infected. First crazy weather and now crazy plant issues. I'm still kinda stumped where the spores came from, I suppose they were carried here by wind but my balcony isn't all that windy either. I really hope this strain of PM doesn't start up on anything else.

I'm really disappointed by the 'Bright Lights' chard, its go gorgeous looking and I keep hearing it does very well in containers, but for me its been very wimpy with tiny leaves, not much color, and not the hotbed of the PM infestation. Earlier this spring I bought a few at the garden center for my container gardening presentation and as soon as the weather was over 70 it bolted, in March. Ford Hook giant dealt with a scorching 120 degree summer and never bolted, I finally ripped it out because I was sick of it. If I had known we were moving and all I would have canned and frozen all of it! I wish I could get some of that beautifully colored chard growing nicely because its so pretty, but I think I'll just stick to my favorite 'Fordhook Giant' chard for now on.


Sinfonian said...

Ack, sorry. My cukes got it last year, but continued to produce up until they were totally consumed by the PM. I didn't know other plants got it, especially in So Cal. It's so hot there. Wierd. Hope things rebound!

Jennifer said...

Sorry to hear about your swiss chard. Found your blog while researching my own little powdery mildew blight on my bright lights patch, which is in-ground. Ours grew well in our summer weather here (inland bay area, averaging high-80's to mid-90's June-September), but were plagued by leafminers for months, and now the mildew. I may try a different variety next year. For now, I'm ripping it all out and freezing what I can keep... I'll just call it a learning experience!