Got Mildew? Get Milk!

By Charlie Nardozzi

Powdery Mildew on grapes

Is your garden plagued with powdery mildew on your bee balm, phlox, grapes, squash, and pumpkins? Powdery mildew infects leaves of these and many other plants in midsummer, often curtailing the flower and fruit production and making the plants unsightly. Organic growers often had to use baking soda or sulfur sprays to prevent this disease. New research from Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand describe a household remedy that's easy to use and as effective as many chemical fungicides: milk.

Researchers in Brazil sprayed raw milk on the leaves of melons and squash and reduced the severity of the disease by 90 percent. Grape growers in New Zealand and Australia have found skim milk as effective as raw milk at reducing mildew on their crops as well. Weekly sprays of a 10 percent solution (one part milk, 9 parts water) proved most effective.

Scientists aren't sure why milk works so well. It may be the salts or amino acids in the milk that act as a germicide. Whatever the reason, home gardeners may want to buy an extra gallon of milk this summer for their vegetables, flowers, and fruits. Milk is a natural.

For more information on using milk as a fungicide, go to

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