Powdery Mildew of on a leaf of perennials

Stop It Before It Starts: Powdery Mildew

Every seasoned gardener has had at least one bout with powdery mildew. It is annoyingly pervasive, and no one wants to see those tell-tale spots on their plants. It seems that everywhere we look- trees, landscaping, gardens- there is no escaping it.  So what exactly is it, and how can you keep it from stunting your plants’ growth and destroying your yield?  How can you avoid what seems to be everywhere?

What is powdery mildew?

Powdering mildew is a generic term that refers to a group of related fungi that are plant-specific and share common symptoms.  Because they are plant-specific, the powdery mildew that you have on your ornamentals will not necessarily spread to your vegetable garden.  Despite this, powdery mildew does spread easily from plant to plant and spores can easily travel through the air.  They can even move through screen windows, so your indoor plants are at just as much risk as your outdoor ones.

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Root Aphids

Root Aphids: No! They’re Not Just Fungus Gnats

Of all the pests you may have to deal with in your garden, root aphids, or Phylloxera have the potential to be the costliest and most destructive. Being able to identify the problem as early as possible is key.

Root Aphid Identification

Aphids have a unique and complicated life-cycle of up to 18 stages, depending on species. However, they don’t change much in appearance as they grow or between species, and don’t have a larval/pupal stage to look for. This is good news since even though they are easily mistaken for other problems, they will have a hard time hiding from your watchful eye once you know what to look for.

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Mighty Mites: Spider, Russet and Bulb Mites

Spider Mites, Russet Mites and Bulb Mites

As a grower you learn to take precautions against the various pests and nasty things that would love to make a meal out of your plants. Yet even the most conscientious of gardeners will likely find themselves in a protracted battle with spider mites, russet mites or even bulb mites at some point. Having the knowledge and tools at hand to deal with an issue right away can make a big difference in how long your fight lasts and how far you will need to go to emerge the victor. First, you will need to Know Your Enemy.

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Read This Fogmaster Jr. 5330 Review If You Spray Much

Confession: I love an Inanimate Object, the Fogmaster Jr. 5330.

What is the Fogmaster Jr. 5330?

It’s a compact hand-held sprayer with a 1/4HP 120V motor.

For some time I had considered buying an industrial sprayer/fogger/atomizer but most seemed like overkill, especially when inexpensive pump-style sprayers would suffice. The Fogmaster Jr. 5330 however, appealed immediately due to its manageable size. When I asked a trusted friend about it, his eyes opened extra wide as he looked directly at me and said “they rock”. He was right.

I know of one other convert, so, for the record, there are at least three Fogmaster Jr. groupies in Colorado.

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Russet Mites

Russet mites are not spider mites – they’re more difficult to spot and control.

As with all pests and diseases, it’s much easier to prevent the problem from occurring instead of controlling an outbreak. Inspect your plants carefully and frequently, quarantine new plants, and consider using a preventative foliar spray on a regular basis. Russet mites are very small and infestations require a microscope to see. Generally you’ll start to see plant damage before you spot the mites themselves. Leaf edges will start to curl up and you’ll see discoloration and “burning” on the leaves. The mites may look like a brown/yellow powder on the infected parts of the plant. Under a microscope, they’ll look like a small worm with 4 legs on the front. If possible, drop the temperature in your garden while you are working on eradicating russet mites to slow their rate of reproduction. “No Spider Mites” is an organic spray that is effective at controlling Russet mites. We’ve also seen good success with Bonide Eight Insect Control. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions – if you do not use enough product or use it too infrequently, you can risk your mite population to become resistant to your treatment. If this happens, switch to a different product. If you have an ongoing battle with Russet mites, keep rotating your products. Always test on a small section of your garden and observe the results for a day or two before treating your entire garden.