Of the various methods to provide nutrients and protection to plants, milk is often considered as an addition or replacement for water. While some positive effects have been observed when watering plants with a substantially diluted version of milk, water has always been required to maintain plant health. Rather than being a useful aid to plants, milk has a greater potential to harm.
Water is a part of plant photosynthesis that delivers hydrogen and oxygen to mix with carbon dioxide and create glucose. Water is easily converted to needed nutrients by plants. Milk contains water but also carries lactose, sugars and other chemicals that cannot be utilized by plants. Because of these added chemicals in milk, the plant must draw out the water and then convert needed resources.
The viscosity of water is low, making it thin and easily mobile. Viscosity is a measure of thickness in liquid; the thinner the liquid, the easier a plant can move the liquid and absorb nutrients. The viscosity of milk, depending on the fat content, can be twice that of water, requiring plants to expend greater energy to remove nutrients and transmit the liquid to various areas. When milk is not used quickly enough by plants, it becomes acidic because of bacteria within the milk.
Natural enzymes found in milk work as protection against mildew in various vegetables and flowers such as aster, cucumber, squash, tomato and zinnia. The pH level on leaf surfaces is altered, making them less susceptible to mildew. Milk can also aid in treating plant diseases when used in combination with water. Skim milk, or a diluted milk solution of 1 part milk to 9 parts water, can be used to retard bacterial infection while not blocking pores that absorb moisture. Use this treatment for mosaic disease on various vegetable plants and to add calcium to tomatoes.
Milk has various detrimental effects on plants when not diluted or used in large quantities. Increased sugars and lactose cause bacterial and mold growth in the soil, producing a strong, foul smell along with the potential for diseases that infect plants. Water provides readily consumable nutrients without addtional chemical breakdown. When it comes to plants, only use milk in extremely diluted amounts.
Limitations of Milk
Water can be returned to its natural state by boiling out impurities, as the base elements of water remain the same regardless of whether chemicals are added or removed. The base elements of milk, however, change composition depending on various factors, including the animal producing it, the season and processing methods. Milk cannot be returned to a natural state even when impurities are removed.