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A difficult question

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    I guess there won’t be much posting today so I thought I’d throw a couple of things in the ring for you to read, and maybe respond to.

    My husband asked me a very difficult question yesterday and I still don’t know how I want to answer it. I wonder if I can get some thoughts from everyone here to help me with it.

    We are having trouble with our pumpkins. It’s powdery mildew and it needs to be sprayed with seaweed or bordeaux, which are both organic. We always have problems with powdery mildew on the pumpkins but it never worries me, I just try to treat it and if it doesn’t respond well, I pull the plant out. I would LOVE to be able to grow enough pumpkins for a year and store them in our shed. That’s only 12 pumpkins, but I’ve never done it. πŸ™

    So H asked me why I didn’t use something stronger on the pumpkins. I told him the stronger things don’t necessarily work any better and anyway, they’re not organic. So here is the question, he said: “If we don’t grow our own pumpkins, we’ll just buy them at the market, and we don’t know what’s been put on them then. Isn’t it better to use something that we know will work, even if it’s not organic, rather than buy non-organic produce that we don’t know how it’s been produced?”

    I usually have answer for everything – I’m quite annoying sometimes ( πŸ˜† ) – but I didn’t have an answer for that.

    Philosophically, I’m opposed to using non-organinc methods in the garden. I just don’t see the point of trying to grow healthy produce and then adding petro-chemicals to it. I try to extend that philosophy to other areas of my life and try to be authentic in everything I do. But what IS the difference if we end up buying non-organic pumpkin. It could have grown out of a sewer for all we know. Is it better to grow it here using non-organic methods?

    So, I’m really interested in all your thoughts. What do you think?


    Merry Christmas Rhonda.

    I’m waiting for the last loaf of bread to come out of the oven before we drive to our son’s house for lunch so I thought I’d pop in and see if anyone had been here this morning.

    We have asked ourselves the same question many times and are still as unsure now as you are so I too am interested to know what others think.

    I hope you and H have a happy, peaceful day and enjoy your snapper. I’ll be eating lots of lovely veggies and dodging the turkey and ham.:D


    doesn’t the mineral “Sulphur” help with powdery mildew ? It’s what they use on grape vines to help dry them out to prevent the mildew.

    country gurl

    Hi Forest,

    My 2 cents worth.

    I still think you are better off growing your own even if you need to use some chemicals on the plant. I mean at least you are only using a chemical to prevent the powdery Mildew. Who knows what other people use?

    At least if you grow it yourself you know there are no artifical fertilisers and the pumpkins are locally grown.

    If it is really to difficult to grow them, e.g. they use to many of your resources of compost, water etc and you don’t have room to grow them then I would think it is reasonable to purchase instead.

    Your pumpkins are still bound to taste better then what you can buy, even with some treatment for the mildewed leaves.

    Also, just one other thing, have you tried just letting the plant continue producing with the Powdery Mildew? I’ve never had a really bad case of it but I would have the thought that the plant might just be able to continue producing?


    Hi Rhonda, M has a habit of questioning things like this too, he tends to be a bit more irreverent than I am when it comes to environmental issues which is very good for me!

    While I am committed to organic methods in growing my own food, and experience similar frustrations sometimes with regards to pest or disease control, I also think that perhaps it’s not as black and white as I sometimes see it. I mean, I’m not about to go out and use DDT on my tomato grubs, but if I did have an infestation of them, and was just unable to keep them under control with organic means, I may consider something for a one-off, to weigh the odds back in my favour. And like H says, if you put something on it, non-organic or not, you still know exactly what’s on it. Know what I mean?

    There are lots of things I do which, if I were trying to be completely authentic, kind of contradict my philosophy of living gently. But I kind of dealt with that a few years ago when I decided to stop eating meat. I wanted to be completely vegetarian, if not vegan. The thing is, I really like seafood, and I missed not being able to have things like garlic prawns (mmm, yum) or fish and chips. I ended up thinking, how much is it going to benefit the world if I eat garlic prawns three or four times less a year when it also kind of makes me unhappy?

    If someone asks what kind of diet I follow then I say I eat mainly vegetarian, or I follow a plant-based diet. I make no apologies for the fact that I might sometimes eat fish or even chicken, especially since I’ve been pregnant. And sometimes I drive my car places where I could conceivably use other means of transport, or I buy something with too much packaging. We also have cats, two of which we let outside during the day – very environmentally unfriendly.

    I guess my point is, I live an analysed life, and I consider my decisions in context of the environment, human and animal rights, and my own happiness or comfort. That may be unacceptable for someone else who has a different belief but it works for me, and I think being more moderate helps me to maintain a ‘greener’ lifestyle, than if I were stricter with myself.

    If you weigh up the difference between using a product which is not organic on your pumpkins, compared to buying non-organic pumpkin, which may not be necessarily be locally grown, so you’d have to consider the fossil fuels used to get the food from farm to you, etc etc.

    Good luck deciding what you want to do!


    Rhonda, have I sent you any of the pumpkin seed I got from Jade, both have had no pest issues apart from getting out of control, Bec loves the long horse shoe “Farm style” pumpkins, I have been totally slack this year and have only planted those that grow from seed left from exploding pumpkin’s, I used the tractor’s slasher to clear last year cropping area.

    What about you grow something for us and I grow 12 big pumpkins for you? Have you thought about trading with another organic gardener?


    Rhonda – my zucchinis all got powdery mildew early in the season. But I just left it because they weren’t too bad … just a bit spotty. They kept producing plenty of fruit and I’m only now replacing them that they’re finished. Perhaps your pumpkin will be okay? Dunno – am still a beginner and have never grown pumpkins before.

    Love the trading idea Bazman. One day I hope to grow enough of something and find someone who can grow stuff we can’t grow and trade. Last year we grew so much leaf vegetables that we couldn’t give it away, but if I’d known someone who was good at fruit or something I woulda loved to trade – just didn’t think about it.

    Rhonda – Bazman’s pumpkins look delicious … πŸ˜‰


    Thanks to everyone who answered. I’ve been thinking about it a bit today and I think I am convinced that you can’t be a little bit pregnant. By that I mean that I am either an organic gardener or I’m not. I think the solution has been offered by baz, not that I thought I’d get a unequivocal solution. I should stop trying to grow pumpkins and barter. I’d like to add though that this is MY solution, I don’t think it’s a one size fits all type of thing. To each her own. πŸ˜€

    Herb, the problem with the pumpkins is that they drop off before they mature.

    Baz, that sounds like a plan. What aren’t you growing that you’d like? Maybe I could value add. If you’re not growing rosellas I could make you some jam and cordial. Let me know. I think it’s a great idea we just need to work out what your reward is.


    Ah – Sorry Rhonda … was sleepy and didn’t read properly :shy: …


    Powdery mildew im sure can be controlled with milk and water..will check tommorow for you

    Btw Rhonda what is organic….People still use derris dust which is a natural product considered safe by the organic groups…but now has been found to cause or bring on alzhimiers disease…cant remember which one πŸ˜‰

    So organic can mean so many differant things its hard to know what is truely organic or a little organic…its up to you really….some people belive roundup not to bad so go figure


    But what IS the difference if we end up buying non-organic pumpkin. It could have grown out of a sewer for all we know. Is it better to grow it here using non-organic methods?

    I think I’d rather buy them from someone else so that I don’t introduce any nasty chemicals into my soil. Who knows how long some of these things linger? :confused:


    I think I should go plant some pumpkin’s now, heh πŸ˜€

    We can talk over the finer details when we catch up Rhonda.

    Rosellas sounds like a good idea as it’s something I don’t grow or have access to, until I grow it myself.



    Rhonda , Hope you had a great xmas day. Sulphur is organically approved as a combatant against powdery mildew, i checked some of my organic references.

    How are you watering them? Drippers would be best to avoid spray bounce from the soil. Also it is recommended you mulch well and do not overdo the nitrogen. Rich feeding will produce too much foliage and not enough pumpkins, ideal ph 5.5 – 6.8. they do not need rich soil and once established need less water than when establishing.


    I’ve tried the milk/water thing, and also sulphur. They are good preventatives but don’t get rid of powdery mildew. I was too lazy to use them before I got the problem. Seaweed is supposed to be a good preventative as well and I have been using that.

    I actually think it’s an element in the soil that’s causing it. To be more specific, I think our soil is lacking an element that protects against powdery mildew. Pumpkins are a really easy crop and yet year after year we get either none or 2-3.

    I’ve done all the other things correctly. The pumpkins are mulched well, get watered only in the early morning, and I don’t spray the leaves. They aren’t over fertilised, they’re growing in soil with added compost, cow poo and a sprinkling of potash. They’ve had some weak worm juice and seaweed but no extra nitrogen.

    I think I’ll give up on the pumpkins after this year. They’re an important crop for us as we both like them and we use it in our homemade dog food as well. But I also like the idea of forming bartering partnerships so I think that is the way I’ll go with the pumpkins. Now I have to concentrate on the watermelons. :uhoh:


    over time rhonda,

    i have had success in controlling p/m by growing all the cucurburt type things in full sun where they get good air circulation, as well as grow them in well drained situations, also when watering i water only the root zone so the only wetting the leaves get is from rain. in our last gardens the problem was all but non existant as we where growing them in a sandy loam. we still keep them heavily mulched.

    so now we only see some p/m when the plants are near the end of their time and have done their job.

    others seem to have good results using milk sprays, and in 1 garden we hade some orange lady beetles that seemed to be eating the p/m,they sure weren’t eating the foliage.


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