Why might milk be good for the garden?
I would consider milk both a fertilizer and a soil amendment. It initially supplies plants with calcium and also provides microbes fuel to break down organic matter in the soil.
In one preliminary study conducted by the University of Nebraska and highlighted in the Minnesota Farm Guide, raw milk applications increased crop yieldsbetter than chicken manure. Four months after the tests, the researchers discovered the soil was in better shape.
Where do I find milk?
Use any milk you have on hand, even sour milk. Raw milk may work better than pasteurized. I have yet to read a scientific study using pasteurized milk products but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try.
Which plants may benefit from milk?
I’ve found melons, peppers, squash and tomatoes respond well to milk applications. Used as an antifungal foliar spray, milk might ward off powdery mildew on cucumbers and squash.
Combine milk with…
Milk and Epsom salt make a great combination, especially for tomatoes. See the recipe below for instructions.
Milk Fertilizer and Soil Amendment Recipe
Use it raw, pasteurized, fresh, expired, evaporated or powdered. Mix at a ratio of 1 part milk to 1 part water. In this recipe, milk is applied as a soil drench. My favorite plants to treat through the soil are peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and lettuce.
In my home garden I use about ½ cup of milk water (¼ cup milk + ¼ cup water) for every square foot of planting area. If I have one tomato planted in a large grow bag I use ½ cup milk water and pour it around the plant at the drip line. I would use ½ gallon of milk water for an entire raised bed measuring 8 feet x 4 feet.
To combine milk and Epsom salt, add 2 teaspoons of Epsom salt to ½ gallon of milk water (1 quart water and 1 quart milk).
Milk Soil Drench and Foliar Spray Recipe
Foliar sprays work well for crops that tend to get fungal diseases such as squash, cucumbers, eggplant and melons. Use the same ratio as the previous recipe – mix 1 part milk and 1 part water. Add to a spray bottle. The milk will absorb into plant leaves more freely if the leaves are already moist so try and water your plants before you apply the milk. Pre-moistening opens up the pores in the leaves.
Spray the tops and undersides of the leaves early morning or late afternoon after the sun subsides. If the weather report calls for rain, wait until after the rain stops.
You can keep any unused milk water in the refrigerator until you need it again. Suggest you rinse the spray bottle nozzle out before you store the unused milk to prevent it from clogging.
Milk Quick Tips
- Lack of water could be the reason why your tomatoes are inflicted with blossom end rot because the plant cannot obtain calcium from the soil.
- Milk applications won’t work very well if your soil is not moist. Plants need water to absorb nutrients so water plants consistently and deeply to get the best results.