The powdery mildew squash virus

Troubling evidence of powdery mildew

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.

The 12 little squash and how they grew

by susan time to read: 2 min
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