I was growing some mint in my container garden and found them covered with a little powdery mildew. I did not want the mint to go to waste and decided to find out if I could eat them even if they are infected with powdery mildew.
You cannot eat vegetables with powdery mildew because they are known to cause allergic reactions in some people. The powdery mildew will also affect the taste of the vegetables and reduce their flavor. If you have eaten such vegetables, it’s best to consult a doctor for advice.
It is essential that you clean not just the vegetables, but the plants they grow from. If the plants are left for the mildew to grow on them, your yield will suffer. When your vegetable yield is affected by powdery mildew, this means that vegetable growth will be stunted, their flavor will be lackluster, and there will be fewer crops per plant.
What to Do If You Consumed Powdery Mildew?
If you do happen to consume some of the powdery mildew, there is usually nothing to worry about. If you notice that you are getting an allergic reaction, or that you start to feel ill, it is important that you consult your doctor for advice on how to proceed.
Consuming hard-to-remove mildew on crops like white cucumbers, will generally not harm humans. However, the mildew might make them taste bad. The quality of vegetable or fruit skin can also be compromised, and taste-off, as a result of it.
What Are Some Ways To Prevent Powdery Mildew?
Powdery mildew is host-specific. Depending on the kinds of vegetables you have, different forms of powdery mildew are liable to form.
Vegetables and herbs that are likely to get infected with a sort of powdery mildew are cucumbers, squash, tomato, lettuce, Swiss chard, basil, rosemary, sage, parsley, lemon balm, mints, and hypericum.
Be Wary of the Season
Powdery mildew spores are much more likely to form on your plants during spring and autumn. Cool nights and warm days during either season will change the temperature rapidly.
A little humidity won’t hurt your plant; in fact, it may inhibit the spores. It is the wind and temperature that are the more likely culprits.
Pay Attention to Sensitive Crops
Many greens, gourds, and herbs tend to be the most affected by powdery mildew. It is important to provide these sensitive crops with extra protection, especially in the months where the climate readings change frequently. Most importantly, keep these sensitive crops in a special area away from the hardier ones.
Keep Nitrogen Levels Optimal
Nitrogen is an important nutrient for your plants. All plants require different levels, so the optimal amount needed for your crops will vary.
Too much nitrogen will accelerate tender leaf formation, overcrowding the plant, and inviting mildew. Too little nitrogen and your plant won’t grow at all.
Avoid Spraying Water On Leaves
You want to only water the soil and prevent the water from splashing on the foliage. The water on leaves will create a humid environment that is suitable for powdery mildew to grow.
I suggest watering in the morning so that the excess water on the leaves will evaporate once the sun comes out.
You can use a watering can, self-watering container, soaker hose, or drip irrigation system to water your plant roots and avoid the foliage.
Give Your Plants Some Breathing Room
Vegetables that aren’t well aerated will collect powdery mildew spores, retain too much moisture, and not get enough sunlight.
Space them far apart enough to keep them healthy, relatively dry, and to reduce the number of spores that blow into your crops.
How To Remove Powdery Mildew From Your Vegetables
Use a Homemade Baking Soda Spray
This can help you to get rid of powdery mildew spores on even your most sensitive crops. You do want to be careful when using it for a few reasons.
Too much baking soda can burn plants, and cause vitamin deficiencies. Spore can also develop a resistance to it, so alternate between remedies, such as the ones listed here.
Sulfur Sprays and Sulfur-Based Fungicides
These can be ideal for your crops, except squash and melons. You can make a sulfur spray by adding a few, crushed garlic cloves in water.
Garlic is high in sulfur, which kills mildew. Another option is a sulfur-based fungicide, which can be purchased with the proper chemical proportions.
Reasons Why Powdery Mildew Grows on Your Vegetables
There are many factors to consider if you find powdery mildew on your plants and vegetables. Different temperatures, water and humidity, and location, among other things, can contribute to the accumulation of powdery mildew spores in your garden.
If you want to reduce the presence of powdery mildew, it is vital that you pay attention to the environment and the climate.
Powdery mildew thrives in environments with consistent temperatures between 62 and 72°F (16.7 to 22°C).
So you will want your vegetables to have access to a good heat and light source during autumn, or whenever this temperature range is typical.
Excessive Moisture and Humidity
Powdery mildew thrives in environments with consistent humidity higher than 70-85 percent. You may live in an excessively humid area of the world, or perhaps you have been watering from above, rather than at the base of the plant, causing excess moisture on the leaves.
Insects aren’t only known for carrying pollen; they carry spores with them too. So even if you have secured optimum conditions for your plants, there is still the threat that insects will fly on and around your crops, infecting them with the spores. Knowing which insects like which plants is key to overcoming any trouble that might ensue.
Spores can glide through the air and land on your crops. You want to be wary of how you plant your vegetables because spacing can mean the difference between trapped mildew spores and more breathable crop space. Crops that are further spaced apart are less likely to accumulate mildew and will be more manageable.
More shade means more time it takes for your vegetables to rid themselves of excess moisture. With the excess, moistures come spores.
To make matters worse, when your vegetables are not in full sunlight, this accelerates the growth of spores that are beginning to accumulate. Plants that are susceptible to spore growth will be especially at risk.
Bad air circulation between crops will create a breeding ground for powdery mildew spores to accumulate.
Too little airflow also makes it difficult for your plants to rid themselves of excess water and reduces the amount of sunlight that they are capable of collecting. Plants that are too close together will also promote the spread of spores.
An overabundance of nitrogen in your plants can cause excessive, tender leaf formation. The leaves will become too dense, and facilitate the conditions for powdery mildew spore growth.
To make matters worse, softer leaves are more likely to get infected by the spores. If there are softer leaves growing near the base of your plant, they will likely get infected.
It’s OK if you see a little powdery mildew starting to develop on your vegetable plants. There’s no need to panic and throw away all of your plants.
But it is important that you respond quickly to the problem and use some of the mentioned techniques like baking soda spray or garlic spray to get rid of the problem.
I would not recommend you consume the vegetables if they are severely infected by powdery mildew as it can cause allergic reactions. It’s best to dispose of such vegetables.
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.