Gardeners lose the plot as summer weather leads to mildew attack
Alert from Royal Horticultural Society over disease which could damage or kill fruit and veg
Gardeners are being warned to be extra vigilant after the summer weather created a boom in powdery mildews that destroy fruit and vegetables.
The fungal disease kills and maims apples, blackcurrants, gooseberries, grapes, courgettes, marrows, cucumbers, peas, roses, honeysuckle, rhododendrons and azaleas. It also causes problems for farmers because it attacks sugar beet and barley.
“This is a bumper year for powdery mildews – we’ve had a dry summer, with a bit of wetness and then dry again,” said Guy Barter of the Royal Horticultural Society.
“These can kill but usually debilitate and weaken the plants. In vegetables this can reduce the size and total amount of produce and in fruit it kills off some of the shoots and can damage the plants.”
There have already been widespread cases of mildew in gardens and allotments but these are likely to increase as the mildew season peaks around now, said Mr Barter. And Britain’s forests are also suffering. “The warm wet summer seems to have produced a really prolific yield of oak mildew in the past month to six weeks,” said National Trust wildlife expert Matthew Oates.
Gardeners should spring into action at the first sign of white mildew on the leaves, stems, flowers or fruit of a plant, Mr Barter advises.
There are no approved fungicides for gardeners to use on vegetables although there are for fruit and flowers, but it is best to ask at the local garden centre to identify the most suitable, experts advise.
There are approved fungicides for farm crops and farmers typically spray at “first sight”, so the main problem posed to mainstream agriculture by mildew is the high cost of the chemicals – although organic farmers suffer along with gardeners.
Gardeners can take steps to minimise the risk of attracting powdery mildew and slowing its spread.
Watering the plants regularly makes them stronger and so builds up their resistance to disease of all kinds. Removing infected leaves helps slow the spread, while gardeners should also avoid using too much nitrogen fertiliser because this promotes the soft leafy growth on which garden pests thrive.
Gardeners should also look to thin out growth where possible to increase the airflow or to plant further apart.
Greenland’s dark snow may start global warming ‘feedback loop’
Campaigners lobby Duchess of Cornwall to persuade her son-in-law to cease Knebworth solar farm
Animal Extinction - the greatest threat to mankind
Climate change means rate of growth of trees has gone up by 77%
BMC GF01 Ultegra Disc Road Bike, review: Road bike brakes are going through a revolution
- 1 Mario Balotelli: Staff at arson-hit Manchester Dogs' Home convinced Liverpool striker is behind five-figure donation
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 The response to my Pizza Express review has been overwhelming, and taught me a lot about journalism
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...
£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...
£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...