White Powdery Spots on Sage Leaves

White Powdery Spots on Sage Leaves
sage leaf

I've grown small amounts of sage every year. You know what else I've had every year along with it?  White powdery spots on the sage leaves. They seem to appear after a stretch of rain, as the powdery mildew thrives in damp conditions. I can't control the weather, so I'll try to control the spots. Thankfully, sage grows like wildfire, so my method has been to just remove the offending leaves and new ones grow in. But, I'm not really happy with this solution. What a waste! I'm not growing things to discard them. I want to use these fresh ingredients! 

I did a little research and found a few common suggestions for what to spray on the leaves:

  • 10 parts water and 1 part milk
  • 2 tsp sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) mixed with 1 quart of water (some suggest adding dish soap as a way to help the substance stick to the leaves)
  • Replacing the baking soda with potassium bicarbonate (beer and wine makers may know a thing or two about that ingredient)

As a fairly practical person, I tend to go for the reasonable and convenient approach to problem solving. I had milk I need to use up, so I tried the the milk and water mix first. I mixed 10 oz of water with 1 oz skim milk in a spray bottle. I first removed the spotted leaves and then each day for two weeks, I sprayed the tops and underside of the leaves, refrigerating the remaining amount in the spray bottle each time. This showed some improvement, but the spots came back with a vengeance.

Then, after removing spotty leaves again, I tried the baking soda and water mix each day for the next two weeks. What a difference. I've started doing it about every other day now and will reduce it even further, but I'm happy to have the spots gone and have usable sage again. Now....what recipe should I add them to?

Do you experience this issue? If so, let me know what you do about it in the comments.

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

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Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine