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Getting rid of mildew

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In his weekly Out in the Garden column, Mark Cox, of Baytree Garden Centre in Weston, discusses mildew...

The present Mrs Cox was in good spirits this week as news had reached her that Mrs Perkins of number 18 had suffered a severe setback with her preparations for the annual Quadring Dahlia show.

Jenny, Mrs Perkins’ next door neighbour, had confided this information with my wife in the strictest of confidence during their weekly bums, tums and thighs workout in the village hall. And because it was in the strictest of confidence my wife had obviously told everyone she knew.

Mildew (57784402)
Mildew (57784402)

It was on Tuesday morning during one of Mrs Perkins’ brunch events that the setback was discovered. Jenny and several selected other prominent villagers were invited to into the garden to admire her Dahlia blooms.

Unfortunately her Dahlias, which in her words looked stunning yesterday, now sported shrivelled leaves covered in what at first glance appeared to be talcum powder.

Mrs Cox agreed with me that it sounded very much like her Dahlias were suffering from mildew and the mildew fungus in particular was attacking the plant and causing the damage to the leaves.

While in most cases powdery mildew will not kill the plant, it is always best practice to treat it and remove any infected leaves, whether it’s in the garden or greenhouse.

Powdery mildew is caused by humidity in the atmosphere. When you have warm, sunny days followed by warm, wet days this creates the perfect conditions for the fungus to grow.

This is the exact same weather pattern we’ve been experiencing for the last few weeks.

When it rains water falls onto the infected leaves, the fungus then mixes with the rainwater which, in turn transfers the fungus onto the healthy leaves, which then become infected.

Mrs Perkins’ first step would be to either move home and never be seen again, or to improve the air circulating around the plant by remove anything which is overcrowding it.

She should not put any of the infected clippings into her compost bin as they may well contain the fungus spores, thus spreading the infection.

Next Mrs Perkins will have to treat the leaves with a good quality fungicide such as Fungus Clear Ultra.

This type of fungicide is a systemic product which means the treatment is absorbed through the leaves and is circulated around the plant. Now ,with all chemicals she should take time to read the label and follow all of the safety instructions.

To treat she will need to mix 15ml of Fungus Clear Ultra with 1 litre of water, then using a pressure sprayer, spray the infected leaves on both sides upper and lower. This will have to be done daily for at least the next two weeks until the fungus is removed.

Sadly for Mrs Perkins, now that the mildew has already formed on the leaves the damage is done, the deformity it has caused to the leaves will never recover. However, that said, these leaves will eventually die and fall off and in its place will be disease-free growth.

Now Mrs Perkins’ Dahlia blooms have won first prize for the past six years and with her unable to compete in this year’s competition there is growing speculation I’m told within the village that Mrs Perkins was the victim of sabotage by a jealous grower.

For the record, it wasn’t me.

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