Rubber Mulch & Powdery Mildew
Is rubber mulch ok to use in vegetable gardens? I have had problem with powery mildew killing my tomato plants last year, and even have it all over them AGAIN this year, and am wondering if the mulch has anything to do with it. These particular plants are in containers on my lanai, in full sun in Central Florida. It is a new patio garden container they are in this year, and again I used Miracle Grow Moisture control dirt to plant them in, and applied thin layer of red rubber mulch.
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

Hi,



Thanks for writing. While I've not heard of any studies that prove that rubber mulch is bad for vegetable gardens, I don't feel comfortable using it my garden. I don't care for the chemical smell and I don't like the fact that it doesn't decompose --- so it's always there. Instead, I prefer organic mulch that breaks down and improves my soil. (My favorite mulch is compost, actually.)



  As far as your powdery mildew problem goes, make sure your tomatoes are growing in a spot with good air circulation. Powdery mildew loves still, humid air. Also, when you water your plants, do you get the leaves wet? If so, that also encourages the disease. When you do your watering, try to make sure it goes directly into the pot and not on the leaves. That should help.



Neem oil is an organic fungicide that can help prevent the spread of powdery mildew. Look for this product at your local garden center or nursery and follow the directions on the packaging.



I hope this helps. Good luck!



---Justin, Senior Garden Editor, BHG.com

Answered by BHGgardenEditors