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Garden Newsletter July 1: Powdery Mildew Treatment and Squash Vine Borer Control

Playing Catch up with Squash Vine Borer Control

Sometimes with gardening, there’s the relatively steady ebb and flow. Daily, we survey our patch and sometimes discover a minor pest problem, handle it, and continue on. No big deal, right? Other times, such as this past week, it seems like playing a catch-up game of  “Whack-a Mole”.  The issues have mostly to do with squash.

We missed a few borer holes with our injection treatments and had to take out a badly damaged plant. We found and extracted a few of the larvae hopefully in time to save the plants they were eviscerating. It’s easy to wonder, what did squash vine borers (SVB’s) consume before we started vegetable gardens? Maybe, we can delve into that question later. We’re still needing to deal with the immediate situation that we’ve sworn to prevent the loss of our squash and pumpkins to SVB’s.

Launching Powdery Mildew Treatment

And there’s the sudden arrival of another pestilence–the dreaded powdery mildew. We’ve been routinely spraying neem oil mixed with liquid BT and now that the powdery mildew has appeared, we’ve added another organic control spray (bacillus subtillus).  Interesting how a fungus-like bread mold can be converted to bacteria-fighting penicillin, and a bacteria can be developed to combat a fungus-like powdery mildew.

The product we’re using is made by “Serenade” and is OMRI-approved.* You can even spray and harvest the same day.  Be sure to store at room temp, cover both upper and lower leaf surfaces till run-off, and carefully follow the label instructions.

*What is OMRI? OMRI stands for Organic Materials Review Institute.1)



There are other organic type fungal treatments that contain copper, sulfur, or potassium bicarbonate. In the past, we’ve tried home cures of milk, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide with little effect. So this season,  it’s just the neem oil, the BT, and now, the Serenade sprays. We’ll definitely track the effectiveness of this trio of treatments.

You can learn more about how we’ve been treating powdery mildew in this article and video.



Garden Beans Coming On

On the brighter side, we’ve been enjoying our bean harvest. We’re liking the new variety of bushies (Calima) and purple TeePee. Meanwhile, the Mother Stollard pole beans are taking a secure hold on their 7 ft tall trellis, but have yet to show any pods.


We also planted some Chinese Red Noodle Beans, the ones with the beautiful orchid-like flowers, and the beans are now developing into long, skinny red pods-noodles!


Hummingbirds Show Up!

A highlight of the week has been the frequent appearance of a couple of female hummingbirds (likely ruby-throated) as they gingerly sip nectar from our feeder. Red dye is a no-no and plastic isn’t recommended, so we use a 1 sugar/4 water mix in the red glass bottle. They’re very camera shy, so getting a decent photo has been challenging as they dart in and out of the frame. Seeing them always brings a smile. I keep having the Far Side thought when hearing their wings beating at 70 times a second, that if that sound were amplified 10 times or so, wouldn’t it be similar to a Harley-Davidson? Hmmmmmm.


Well, that’s all folks. Till next week. We’re very appreciative of your comments and photos. Anything you have to share about the (dreaded) powdery mildew treatment or squash vine borer controls will be especially welcomed.  You can post comments and/or photos up on our Facebook page, or send us an email.

May your garden flourish and your harvests be bountiful!

~ Coleman for
P.S. As community member tips roll in we’ll add them at the end, so drop by in for some wisdom from the crowd!


Keep on Growing!

Coleman Alderson

G. Coleman Alderson is an entrepreneur, land manager, investor, gardener, and author of the novel, Mountain Whispers: Days Without Sun. Coleman holds an MS from Penn State where his thesis centered on horticulture, park planning, design, and maintenance. He’s a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and a licensed building contractor for 27 years. “But nothing surpasses my 40 years of lessons from the field and garden. And in the garden, as in life, it’s always interesting because those lessons never end!” Coleman Alderson

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