Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Milk, A Garden Miracle Against Powdery Mildew

I get excited about little things, mainly because they turn out to be big things, like this organic gardening tip I discovered on a New Zealand web site after doing a search to find out what the white spots were on my cucumber and squash plants. Turns out it is powdery mildew and it seems New Zealand grape growers are particularly menaced by this common plant disease. Evidently powdery mildew is lactose intolerant! They found that mixing one part milk to nine parts water to spray on the leaves of the plant effectively got rid of the disease. I didn't have milk on hand because I have been trying to cut back on dairy products in a restructuring of more healthy eating habits (let me tell you, that is a tough one for this dairy girl), but I had my little pint of organic half and half. Since it is a little bit heavier than straight milk, I diluted my mixture ten to one and immediately went out to treat my plants.

A bit of a cautionary tale here. Don't do this in front of your pets! I gave the cucumber a good coating and then turned my back to go spray down the squash plants, which are in a different garden bed. I glance back toward the cucumber, probably catching the motion of our dog, Duke, moving past. He is standing in the garden. This is something Duke and I fight over all the time, so it took me a moment to realize he is licking the milk off the cucumber leaves and not in the process of digging a hole to lay in. Silly dog.

 Here are the results of my using the milk spray just after two days. The leaves even look healthier. Take a look for yourself:

Before:

 After two applications:

There are still some spots of mildew, but the difference in just two days is amazing! I will probably keep applying the milk mixture for another 3-4 days to make sure the downy mildew is all gone. One down side I noticed was that it seems to attract flies, but my mixture could still be a little strong since I used half and half instead of milk.

5 comments:

  1. I can't wait to try this. Pinning so I can remember next gardening season. I'm going to read your cream of tarter post next. Happy I found your site. Joining now. Ann from manymanyhats.blogspot.com

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  2. Pardon me ^^
    what kind of milk do we have to use?

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    1. It is the protein and not the milk fat that fights off the mildew so it doesn't matter if it is whole or nonfat.

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  3. What about the soil ? I had this problem last year and was told to get rid of the soil < Will the soil still carry this fungus and spread to new plants ?

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    1. Ginny, nothing I have read indicates that you need to get rid of the soil, though you should clean out and replace any mulch. It is recommended that you rotate susceptible crops in different areas of your garden, as well.

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