For the last couple of seasons, I've been using a solution of milk and water to treat powdery mildew on my squash, zucchini, cucumbers and mellons. Here is Jacksonville Beach, FL, the cucurbits seem to very vulnerable to powdery mildew. We have seen powdery mildew on some of our cucurbits every season. We try to raise and maintain our gardens without using chemicals, so I sought out a more natural way to fight the powdery mildew. I stumbled upon some research that shows a milk solution is effective for fighting powdery mildew. I use a generic 32oz spray bottle (pictured above) to apply the milk solution. I add 1/4 cup of milk to the bottle then fill with water. I usually spray all the squash if any of them are infected. I try to wet the leaves on the top and bottom.
My experience has been, that if i catch the powdery mildew early, when the plants are still healthy but are showing white spots, treating them for 3 or 4 days in a row, usually clears up the mildew. When I start treating plants with milk after some of the leaves have withered and others leaves are yellowing or brown, the plants are less likely to survive, but some do. Early treatment, consistent over 3 or 4 days, seems to be the best solution for treating the powdery mildew.
It took about 2 and a half weeks for our seedling to grow big enough to be transplanted into the garden beds. The garden beds have been built and filled. The bottom 2 inches was filled with top soil, and the rest was filled with our own compost made from yard and garden waste. We usally try to follow the plant spacing recommended on the seed packet, but this time we don't have the space. As you can see in the pciture above, these squash are only about 2 feet apart. I'l let you know if we have any problems with crowding.
In preperation for our spring garden, Mary and I went through all of our seed packets we had been saving. We had some in the fridge and some in with our garden supplies. We were only planting two 4ft x 8ft garden beds to start with, so we selected a few of our favorite vegetables. We started yellow sqash, sugar baby mellons, and cucumbers, in peat pellets (see above picture). All the seeds started out like normal and looked pretty good. I also bought a couple of tomato plants from a local nursery, which I planned to plant in a compost filled truck tire. In the next few articles I'll detail our planning, planting and harvesting of our spring garden, and some of the things we learned along the way.