Gardening: Using Milk on Mildew

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Q: Paul, have you ever used milk on mildew?

A: Yes, actually, I did use a milk-and-water solution to control powdery mildew on cucumbers a few years back, and it worked great. I haven’t used it recently, because I haven’t had any mildew problems.

Here’s the recipe:

  1. Mix 1 cup of milk with 9 cups of water.
  2. Put the solution in a sprayer and spray the entire plant including the undersides of the leaves.
  3. Do this twice a week and your powdery mildew problem should disappear.

Milk works in two ways: It has a germicidal effect–it kills the fungal spores– and it also appears to stimulate plants in such a way that they become more resistant to the disease. In recent university tests, the milk and water spray was found to be more effective than the two most popular synthetic fungicides on the market today. Using milk as a fungicide is not new. I remember seeing my grandfather using it more than 40 years ago.

–Paul James, master gardener and host of Gardening by the Yard

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