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

Environment Editor

A A A

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.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?