Powdery Mildew Prevention II: Gardening Techniques
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Ignorance is NOT Bliss
Powdery Mildew is a powerful force that is worthy of your time and prevention efforts. It is undeniable that there are lots of spores in our environment but there are also a lot of ways to deny them. There is no use in claiming ignorance. Spores present a real garden threat and they won’t be disappearing from the planet unless we do (and they might still be around after that). We’re talking about keeping them out of our garden and stopping them from breeding if they do find their way in.
The Power of Denial
Although you may be looking at how to prevent powdery mildew from affecting your indoor garden you have to work from the outside in. In order to keep spores outdoors, take steps to ensure that you and your friends are not going from another garden (especially an outdoor garden) directly into another garden without showering and changing clothes. It may seem melodramatic but remember, we’re dealing with a phantom menace. A Way to Grow gardener shared, that after unsuccessfully fighting PM for some time, he finally came to realize that he was bringing in spores from some infected rose bushes he continually walked past when entering his house.
Powdery mildew is host-specific and can vary greatly within a species. Some plants are susceptible to PM, while others are robust in their resistance to it. If PM is a persistent pain in the garden for you, searching out resistant genetics may be worth the effort. Consider quarantining new plants that come from other gardens. Introducing new plants commonly brings about problems that sometimes it seems like the exception when they don’t create issues.
Manage Powdery Mildew with Prevention
Plant Spacing and Pruning
There are a number of ways to naturally manage your garden to create a healthy growing space for your plants and to enable them to resist PM growth. Let’s review plant spacing and pruning, both of which facilitate air circulation and plant monitoring. Plan to accommodate plant growth so that plants avoid touching each other, if at all, once fully grown. Also, support or trellis plants before they get too heavy in order to prevent branches from lying on top of one another. Pruning vegetative growth is an art which can take some practice. It may seem counterproductive at first, but can be done rather liberally. A general rule of thumb for pruning ANYTHING, is to prune no more than 30% of your plant at a given time, then allow it to recover from the stress of pruning. These steps, combined with multiple oscillating fans in strategic locations, help to avoid a claustrophobic canopy which is prime for PM breeding grounds.
Proper spacing and pruning also increases access and visibility for plant monitoring. The idea being with ease of access to your plants, the more frequently you are to inspect them. If there are fewer leaves and branches to monitor, than those that remain may get more individual attention. Taking the time to thoroughly check your plants on a regular basis can be easy to put on the backburner in your list of gardening priorities. But, just when you least expect it, you notice the fuzzy white powdery mark of the (expletive deleted) menace. If this happens, and you are actively monitoring your plants, then things might not be so bad; you can minimize the damage and remove leaves per the suggestions in the powdery mildew introduction. Good garden hygiene may seem obvious but is worth repeating; keep things clean and trim (especially vegetative matter) to properly manage your space.
When to NOT Water
Another important gardening point worth noting is to avoid watering just before your lights go out; especially if it results in much runoff/standing water. Pro tip: try to water shortly after the lights come on to allow for any excess water to fully evaporate.
The More You Know the Better Your Grow!
For pro-gardeners this may be a review but by knowing this common enemy, you understand the importance of prevention. Thankfully, when prevention fails, there are effective biological and chemical treatments on your side. If you are already fighting P.M. check out the above links for proven powdery mildew treatments.