Volume 16, Issue 35 - August 28 - September 3, 2008

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The Bay Gardener by Dr. Frank Gouin

Save Your Lilac from Powdery Mildew

The remedies are safe but painstaking

Powdery mildew is the white fuzz you see growing on the leaves of lilac and the old varieties of crape myrtle. Crape myrtle with Native American names such as Natchez are immune to this disease.

Powdery mildew is a fungus that grows on the surface of leaves and sometimes on seed pods and fruit. When present in high concentrations, it will cause leaves to turn yellow and brown and to drop to the ground. In severe cases it will cause lilac leaves to curl.

One method of preventing these species from being attacked by powdery mildew is to treat their foliage at two- to three-week intervals with Wilt-Pruf. The latex in the Wilt-Pruf will prevent the powdery mildew spores from infecting the foliage, and the sprayed foliage will develop a glossy green color.

However, a single spraying will not protect new foliage from becoming infected, thus the need for repeated applications. Repeated applications will retard plant growth, which will reduce the need for forth and fifth treatments.

If your plants are already infected with powdery mildew, you can eradicate it by spraying the foliage with baking soda at the rate of four tablespoons per gallon of water. If the infestation is severe, you may need at least two treatments about one week apart. Once the foliage is clean of powdery mildew, spray it with Wilt-Pruf.

Another organic method of control is to spray the foliage with Wettable Sulfur or Flowers of Sulfur. A non-organic method of controlling powdery mildew is to spray with a fungicide called Captan. Recommendations for application are printed on the container.

Can a Cucumber Marry a Watermelon

Q Will cucumbers and watermelons cross if planted close?

–Donna Moreland, via email

A Yes, but only if you plant the seeds and harvest the next crop from those seeds. The flesh you eat of cucumber or watermelon the first year are maternal.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at frgouin@erols.com. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

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