The baby plants coming up in our rows might like to have a drink of milk! Sounds far fetched? We heard about the benefits of milk last season…and last week we gave some full strength to our yellowing onion plants. A week later they are vibrantly green. We sprayed our cucumbers with milk for protection against powdery mildew…We’ll see how it works. Raw milk is sold at the Farm Market if you want to give it a try. Excellent article below from Mother Earth News.
Parking on Saturdays: If you have bulk items to drop off by your row, feel free to drive through the parking area at the top of the pasture and park next to your row on the north side, between the pond and the garden, unload your goods, then park your car back in the parking area. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.
Thinning and transplanting if your plants are up 3 or 4 inches, you can start thinning. Why do we thin plants? Because to have optimum growth, each plant needs ‘elbow room’. If they are packed closely together, they won’t grow to their full ability. Why don’t we want to thin while they’re smaller? Because the roots aren’t established and you could pull up the ones you want to keep along with the ones you want to thin. At about 4 inches they have established themselves enough to root properly…but if you wait till they are much bigger then they have established themselves too much and its harder for them to recover getting yanked out and build their secondary root system again. So how to thin? Read the back of the packets for optimum spacing. If it says to have the plants about 2 inches apart (as with green onions, carrots, some lettuces, etc.) Then pick a starting plant, dig down into the soil beside it and remove 2 inches of plants…getting enough soil as to lessen the disturbance of the root systems. Leave another plant 2 inches from the first and repeat process. What to do with the plants that have been pulled? Either replant them or take them home and cook them up! If you are going to replant them, separate them so you only have one plant/one root per hole… Dig holes spaced the right distance apart for optimum growth and depth for replacing the existing plant root. You might want to put your transplants in another part of your garden… between tomato plants for instance. Some of you have space between collards, space between kale… Onions, carrots would fit into these spaces because they are smaller plants. If you’re not sure, ask your mentor. Remember, we want your row to thrive!!
Utilize your whole row: This takes practice…am I planting too much, too close together? Two rows that are good examples of space utilization are Ileana ROMAN row, and Lenning LISBOA. Please wander down and take a look at how they’ve maximized the space they have.
Milk as Soil Food
Using milk on your compost and in your garden will probably come as a surprise to most. Upon closer inspection, however, it starts to make sense. The amino acids, proteins, enzymes and natural sugars that make milk a food for humans and animals are the same ingredients in nurturing healthy communities of microbes, fungi and beneficial bacteria in your compost and garden soil. Raw milk is the best, as it hasn’t been exposed to heat that alters the components in milk that provide a perfect food for the soil and plants, but any milk will provide nutrition and benefits. Using milk on crops and soils is another ancient technique that has been lost to large scale modern industrial agriculture.
Milk is a research-proven fungicide and soft bodied insecticide – insects have no pancreas to digest the milk sugars. Dr. Wagner Bettiol, a Brazilian research scientist, found that milk was effective in the treatment of powdery mildew on zucchini. His research was subsequently replicated by New Zealand melon growers who tested it against the leading commercially available chemical fungicide and found that milk out-performed everything else. To their surprise, they also found that the milk worked as a foliar fertilizer, producing larger and tastier melons than the control group.
Recently David Wetzel, a Nebraska farmer completed a 10 year study on applying milk at different rates to his pastures, and recorded the results with the help of the local Agricultural Extension agent Terry Gompert, a university soil specialist, a weed specialist and an insect researcher.
What they found was amazing- the grass production was drastically increased; the soil porosity or ability to absorb air and water doubled; microbe activity and populations increased; cows were healthier and produced more milk on treated pastures; the brix or sugar level in the pasture tripled, indicating more nutrients were stored in the grass than before. Grasshoppers abandoned the treated pastures- the sugars are a poison to soft bodied insects as they do not have a pancreas to process the sugars. This also explains why insects will leave healthy, high brix level plants alone, as they contain more sugars than the stressed and sickly ones. Milk Works As Fertilizer.
For the home gardener, the ratio can range from 100% milk to a 20% mixture with water, with no loss of benefits. Use as a spray on the compost and garden soil prior to planting, and as needed when insects appear. Spray directly on the insects and around the areas they inhabit. When combined with molasses, it becomes a highly beneficial soil drench. A proven solution is 20% milk – 1 cup of milk to 4 cups of water, or 2 cups milk to 8 cups water for larger gardens.