08/10/2011 09:32 am ET Updated Oct 10, 2011

Beth Terry's Plastic-Free Gardening Adventure, Part 5

by guest blogger Beth Terry

I've been dedicated to living a life plastic free, and experimenting this summer with starting up a garden. This post is one of many in a series describing my successes and struggles keeping plastic out of my garden.

(If you're new to this series, check out my first three posts about buying soil, planting and mulching, and watering without plastic. And check out my blog My Plastic-free Life, to understand the problems with plastic and to find plastic-free alternatives.)


My squash plants, which started out strong, have developed a host of problems, the first of which is powdery mildew.

A little online research turned up multiple recipes for controlling powdery mildew with a solution of baking soda, dish soap, and water. A few of them suggested adding some oil as well. I dug out an old spray bottle, filled it with water, and added a tablespoon of baking soda, a tablespoon of vegetable oil (from a glass bottle), and a teaspoon of liquid soap. Well, my own homemade liquid soap that I created from a bar of solid soap. Liquid soap, after all, comes in new plastic.

So did it work? I'm not really sure. Baking soda is not supposed to "cure" powdery mildew, but to prevent it from spreading. Before I could find out whether this solution was really working, I ended up with other squash problems.


A month ago, I harvested a couple of beautiful zucchinis and a yellow squash. Since then, my squashes have been withering and dying, with signs of blossom end rot--rot that begins at the blossom end of the squash and works its way up.

For the rest of this article and more from Maria Rodale, go to