The Q&A Archives: Powdery Mildew

Question: Dear Burpee and NGA,

Here in Santa Barbara, I was told that I could grow peas right through the winter. I have planted both snap and sweet peas and they were doing fine until about a week ago. I began noticing a white powdery substance on the leaves. The peas get about 1/4 day shade and water a couple times a week. The fruit is just about big enough to pick, but I still have a few flowers and was hoping they'd last another 2 weeks or so. I'm worried because when I saw a similar white powdery substance form on our cucumber and zucchini, it spread quickly and we only got 1/2 of a zucchini. How can I get my powdery peas to last another couple weeks and prevent it in the future?

Winter gardening in Santa Barbara,


Answer: Peas grow best in cool weather and in your mild winter climate, it's possible to grow them all winter long. But, they can be susceptible to disease under certain growing conditions. Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that attacks plants when environmental conditions are right (warm days, cool nights, some humidity) and air circulation is poor. You can help avoid powdery mildew by giving plants the required exposure to sunshine, and plenty of elbow room so there's good air circulation all around them.

Since you've had experience with powdery mildew in the past, you know how quickly plants can be overtaken. You might be able to stall the effects by picking off infected leaves, but eventually the disease will get the upper hand.

Give your winter pea plants lots of space next year and they won't be quite so susceptible to powdery mildew.

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