This summer's brought plenty of sudden downpours and then sunshine - especially where I am, in Wellington. The perfect conditions for an outbreak of powdery mildew.
Watch for it on your big-leafed plants such as cucumber, zucchini and pumpkins. It's a fungus but no worries. It's quite easily dealt to with a home-made baking soda spray. Just put a teaspoon of baking soda in a one-litre drink bottle, add a squirt of dishwashing detergent and fill with water. Get the kids to spray this onto the leaves.
Other vegetables, like silverbeet, rhubarb, beetroot and beans can start looking very tired at this time of year. If they have what looks like acne, brown or red spots on the leaves, it could be rust. Rust, another fungus, releases its spores and spreads in wet weather. I pull out the old silverbeet at that stage and plant new ones.
If your vegetables are becoming a picnic spot for white fly, mash some raw garlic and add that to the spray. And remember to scatter borage seeds around your edible garden. Borage seems to attract bugs away from the cabbages, and they have pretty blue flowers, too. As for those dreaded shield bugs - nothing but squashing them seems to work.