The 12 little squash and how they grew

The powdery mildew squash virus

The powdery mildew squash "virus"

A few days ago I noticed a white dust on my broad (otherwise beautiful) squash leaves.

It seems I had “powdery mildew.” What to do about it was unclear.

I thought about buying a fungicide, as recommended. Or was it too late for chemical intervention? Perhaps. I didn’t want chemicals, and I especially didn’t want to spend money on them if they didn’t work. Then I wondered whether there was a folksy, homegrown solution. Maybe I could wash the leaves in something? And so forth. More research. (I have since gathered some links to suggested home remedies … see below.)

Meanwhile, the plant seemed to die before my eyes. Leaves turned grey, then brown, then dried up. Yet it was still trying hard to survive — yielding right up until this morning. So far I’d had about a dozen beautiful fruit from this plant. I’d roasted them, grilled them, and grated them for squash fritters (recipe follows).

I posted a plea on Facebook.

Clearly, I was being a Pepper. Not a green pepper. Not a soft drink Pepper. Rather, a member of the large family of bumbling Peppers featured in The Five Little Peppers series of children’s books. My favorite was The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew.

If you’re a Pepper, the solutions to life’s simple problems remain just out of your reach. For instance, a Pepper might accidentally add salt to a cup of tea instead of sugar. You’ve never seen such panic and commotion. Should he add baking soda to neutralize the salt? Maybe put a potato into the tea to absorb the salt? Try to pour it through a sieve or fabric of some kind? It might take all of the Pepper children and their mother hours to work through a tea cup tempest.

For nearly every crisis, the Peppers ended up running down the lane to Grandma Brascom, because this saint invariably saved the day. She’d say, “Stuff and nonsense. Just toss out the mess, rinse, and pour a fresh cup of tea! Use sugar this time.” “Oh, thank you so much!” They’d all pipe up.

And so it was with my squash plant worries.

I heard back from my cousin Nancy ASAP via Facebook. “Virus. Same thing just happened to me. Pull up the plants and put in new ones. You can even start from seed if you want to. Squash don’t like mid-summer anyway, and there’s a lot of time until frost.”

Well, thank you so much, Nancy!

I pulled up the squash plant and the new one will go in tomorrow.

And so … another lesson in gardening … and life.

Oh … the fritter recipe courtesy of my garden genius neighbor Linda:

Squash Fritters
2 cups grated squash
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 medium onion
1/2 cup flour
3 T oil

Mix all, and fry as you would pancakes, in a little oil. Thin rather than thick works best.

Variation: green onion & Goya instead of onion and salt. Plus, parmesan cheese is always a nice addition.

Home remedies for powdery mildew:


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cheryl
    Aug 10, 2009 @ 14:58:56

    Oh, no…you too? My squash is in the mildew process. In the past I have used a solution of water and dishwashing detergent (found it on the internet). I did not find it very effective.This year I am using an organic spray I found – in all places – Target. It seems to help, but I am not sure if I sprayed too late. I find that the mildew returns each year. What to do. Time to contact the Extension Service.


    • Susan
      Aug 10, 2009 @ 15:12:58

      Hey, you found me! Very cool. Well … that’s a shame. I read somewhere that spraying needs to happen in June. My cousin says it’s a virus. What’s the name of your Target product? Yes … the county extension agent might be of service! I’ve called them often in the past.


  2. Tina
    Aug 17, 2009 @ 17:08:43

    Suze, I have just perused your lovely blog. FUN! And I must confess I even get a skosh *giddy* reading the gardening posts. Who knows, keep this up and I might even get excited about YARDENING again. 🙂 (Which, in my ‘hood, might not be the best idea, since there is ZERO WATER available for such indugences. I went on a “girl with a hose” spree several weeks ago and we literally ran OUT of water. D’OH!)

    I have never successfully wiped out the mildew/mold that plagues squash plants. My best strategy is to remove the affected leaves in hopes that this will discourage spreading. Removing leaves does, however both remove that lovely umbrella that mother nature designed for the plant, AND makes for a prit-tee pitiful looking plant. Good news is, squash still wants to give you fruit no matter what’s going on! Hard to stop them. (BTW, talking to the extension is a great idea. They pretty much live just to help you with your gardening questions. Kinda like the reference librarian at the library.)

    I have only fried squash blossoms once. (Fascinating idea to me.) It’s kinda cool! I hope you have tried it.

    Ok, enough rambling on your lovely blog! Keep it up, dahlink. I love your writings!


  3. Susan
    Aug 17, 2009 @ 23:01:48

    Teen! Thank you for visiting my garden/blog. I wish you were here. You could answer so much for me. I’ve heard a lot about squash blight … yes … they want to keep giving! But now that I’ve composted the plant … well … I’ve ruined my chances for just a while until the next plant produces.

    TTYS? I miss you. I know I said I’d come back in August, but the visit may have to wait until later in the fall.

    I love you,



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