Popular Gardening Tips You Can Probably Ignore (Milk as Fertilizer, Biodynamic Preparations/Compost)

Popular Gardening Tips You Can Probably Ignore (Milk as Fertilizer, Biodynamic Preparations/Compost)


There are so many gardening tips out
there that it can get overwhelming, especially for beginners. Fortunately, many of these tips can simply be ignored without any downside. I started my “Gardening Tips You Can Ignore” series to help you identify products that you
don’t have to buy and gardening practices that you don’t have to implement. In the process, I hope to save you time and money, and help you focus on what really works. Today I’ll talk about two more gardening tips that I think you can ignore. I know I do. The first tip you can ignore is to use
milk as a fertilizer. There’s some evidence than milk sprays help curb powdery mildew, but that’s not what I’m talking about today. I’m talking about using it specifically as a fertilizer. Now, it is true that milk contains
calcium nitrogen phosphorus and potassium, and if you pour milk on your compost pile, microbes will break down the nutrients into a form that is available to plants. But this is true of all organic matter, and there’s nothing special about milk in this regard. And, like other forms of organic matter, I might put a little bit of spoiled milk on my compost pile, but I’d never buy milk to use in my garden. One of the special claims made about milk as a fertilizer is that it cures blossom and rot. Yes, milk does contain calcium, but it doesn’t have unique ability to cure blossom end rot. Blossom end rot occurs when there’s a deficiency of calcium in the fruit of plants like tomatoes and
peppers, but this usually occurs because the plant is having difficulty moving calcium to the fruit, not because there’s an actual calcium deficiency in the soil. It’s not fully understood why this happens, but it’s related to watering. Both too much water and too little water lead to blossom end rot. Watering regularly and using mulch to maintain consistent moisture levels help reduce Blossom End Rot. Most soils are not deficient in calcium, and compost made from a variety of inputs will help ensure sufficient calcium in most garden soils. There’s also no scientific evidence supporting the idea that there’s something special about using milk as a fertilizer. In fact, the limited studies that have been done have shown it to be not worth the expense or the effort. Finally, milk is a very expensive fertilizer. I prefer to use my free homemade compost, but even commercial fertilizers are much cheaper, because they provide a lot more nutrient value per dollar. For example, garden mythbuster Robert Pavlis analyzed the cost of using milk as a nitrogen fertilizer, and found that it’s a hundred times more expensive than manure. He focused on nitrogen because it’s the nutrient that’s most often lacking in gardens. Calcium usually isn’t. So, if I had a small amount of milk that
was spoiling, I might add it to my compost pile like I would any other organic matter, but I would never buy milk to use as a fertilizer. The second tip to ignore, is really more than just a tip. It’s a whole form of alternative agriculture called Biodynamic Agriculture, which originated in 1924 from a series
of eight lectures presented by a occultist philosopher Rudolf Steiner. Biodynamic Agriculture played an important role in the development of organic farming, and at their core they share some basic practices, such as the use of compost, mulch, cover crops, crop diversification, crop rotation, and animal manures. But in addition to these methods, which are well supported by science, Biodynamic Agriculture includes a number of highly questionable esoteric practices that supposedly harvests cosmic forces in the soil. To give you an idea of what I’m
talking about let’s look at two biodynamic preparations. Preparation 500 involves packing a cow horn with cow manure, and is described by one Biodynamic expert as follows: A hollowed cow’s horn is filled with fresh cow manure and buried in the soil for the winter. The following spring the manure is removed from the horn and dynamically stirred with water for one hour and sprayed over fields. Horn manure improves overall soil health and fertility by stimulating soil’s micro-organisms and beneficial bacteria growth, and promoting root activity and seed germination. So, why are cow horns used in this and other Biodynamic preparations? Rudolf Steiner believed that cow horns ,because of their shape, act as antennae to receive cosmic forces and transfer those cosmic forces
to the contents of the cow horn. And when the manure spray is sprayed on the crops, he believed that those cosmic forces were transferred to the crops and then to the people who ate them. And according to the source I just quoted, only one ounce of cow manure, dissolved in sufficient water, is enough to treat an entire acre of crops. To say that such a tiny amount of cow manure has a significant impact on an acre of crops is a stretch, to say the least. Is it the cosmic forces that are supposedly providing this benefit? I’m personally not buying it. Let’s look at one more example. A number of Biodynamic compost
preparations involve stuffing plant material into the skulls or organs of animals, where the material is aged, and later retrieved and applied to compost. Again, according to the expert I quoted earlier, Preparation 502 involves the following: Yarrow flowers are harvested at peak bloom, dried and sewn into a deer’s bladder. The bladder is hung for the summer with direct exposure to the sun. In fall the bladder is buried in the soil for the winter. The following spring, the yarrow is removed from the bladder and immediately inserted into the compost pile. Biodynamic proponents believe that this practice increases plant uptake of sulfur and potassium, resulting in increased plant growth and
health. and once again Steiner believed that this method imparted cosmic forces to the crops and the people ate them. Though I might add yarrow flowers to my
compost if I had them, is anything really gained by stuffing them into a deer’s bladder, hanging the bladder in the sun for months, burying it and digging it up? I really don’t think so. And the available scientific research on
these preparations supports my skepticism. According to a scientific literature review from Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott: When added to organically grown crops, biodynamic preparations have been uniformly ineffective. Compared with organically managed systems, additions of biodynamic preparations did not affect yields of cover crops, forage grasses, lentils, rice, and more. For more information on the available research, please see a link to this literature
review in the description. So, my advice is to simply ignore all the Biodynamic preparations. I also recommend not spending extra money on biodynamic compost. One of the reasons is so much more expensive is you actually have to pay someone to stuff a deer’s bladder with yarrow, hang it out in the sun, bury it, dig it up, and so on. And this is just one of the required preparations for compost that involves stuffing plants into animal parts. I hope this video saved you time and money by steering you clear from biodynamic preparations and using milk as a fertilizer. To learn more about why I think you can
ignore these tips please see the link in the description below. And for more tips that I think you can ignore, please see this link. If you enjoyed this video, please give it a thumbs up. And if you haven’t already, please subscribe for more videos on how to grow a lot of food on a little land without spending much or working harder than you have to.

100 thoughts on “Popular Gardening Tips You Can Probably Ignore (Milk as Fertilizer, Biodynamic Preparations/Compost)

  1. I love your videos for one big reason, you seem to be to only gardening channel on all of YouTube that actually cites scientific literature and points out accurate findings of studies to prove your points. There are so many people out there who give tips like 'do this, don't do that or your plants will die', and create a sort of fear mongering style attitude toward gardening.

    For example, there was a gardening channel stating that nitrogen fixating plants were useless as a natural nutrient source for plants because the plants took in most of the nitrogen that they fixate for themselves. When someone asked him for his sources, he came up with some article he evidently didn't read, because the article itself said that N2 fixating plants transfer nitrogen compounds to neighbouring plants!

    I am glad to find a guy like you who respects the existing body of scientific research rather than quoting pseudoscience sources.

  2. Geez, I never knew that crazy type of gardening exists.. cosmic forces?? next thing you know Tom Cruise will be writing a farmerยดs almanac.

  3. I giggled through this one! 'Bio-dynamic'? I think 'Daffy- dynamic' makes more sense as a description of that nonsense. My goodness, if I told my family I was going to stuff a cow horn with manure so we'd have better carrots, they'd think I was growing one out of my head…

  4. I'm really amazed at your pose in alerting us to these two issues. You spoke very clearly and only smiled slightly a few times. I'd never be able to report using a deer bladder for compost with a straight face. Hum.. pondering over how many takes this video took you to complete,,,, wink.. Love your information on what to avoid .. grinning from ear to ear.. I actually thought perhaps that gust of wind that happened toward the end of the video was perfect.. Perhaps, it's one of those folks you were talking about .. wink… Awesome video.. Huge thumbs up and share…

  5. i wouldnt put milk in my garden..BUT i would use milk to make "LABS" Lacto bacillus and inoculate my garden with it to suppress anaerobic bacteria. also..eggshells soaked in rice wine vinegar will add calcium to the garden. Probiotic is the best way to keep your soil healthy as well as KNF techniques. you guys should read Master Cho's book. as well as jeff lowenfals books and it will give you some good insight on the soil food web and how it works.

  6. Great video. I was just watching some other videos explaining biodynamic gardening. The cow horn stuff seems like pure quackery. Patrick, what do you think about their double-digging practice?

  7. Honestly, these videos are way more useful than any other gardening advice. It's so much more about what not to do than actually doing.

  8. I would dare say that your channel Patrick is one of only a few that teaches the average home gardener how to increase yield and health in our plants through real and sustainable practices. You teach through personal practice and observation in your own garden. Also your not afraid to share what hasn't worked well for you. I look forward to each of your videos because thy are always worthy of spending time to watch and learn from them. For that I thank you !!!

  9. TIPS YOU CAN IGNORE:
    0:31 Use Milk as a Fertilizer
    2:36 Use Biodynamic Preparations & Biodynamic Compost

    6:41 OSCAR!

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  10. I've heard of biodynamic gardening for years but never knew what was involved. Creepy woo-woo stuff like that is just a huge turn-off for me anyway, so I'm going to take your advice and continue to ignore it. The milk thing, too. Had never heard of that.

  11. I didnt even know you could use milk as a fertilizer. Next time I get spoiled milk, ill just pour it onto my plants instead of throwing it away lol. Thanks for the tip.

  12. 3 videos in one week Patrick, truly you spoil us! Would using spoilt milk on the compost heap not potentially attract unwanted pest such as foxes?

  13. Thanks Patrick! I'm going to save so much time now that I don't need to dig up the yard searching for my buried assortment of stuffed horns and bladders ๐Ÿ˜€

  14. Anyone ever mention that you kinda look like Rudolf Steiner? lol Thanks for all the outstanding videos! I will be moving to zone 5b soon and I value your information greatly.

  15. I have a very hard believing that anyone would buy milk as a fertilizer or use Biodynamic Preparations without any scientific support. I thank you for doing research into these two ideas and then passing on the information to people who grow plants.

  16. i laughed so hard i fell off my magic carpet that i was levitating on while in the midst of an astral youtube projection. you have a real gift for saying things in an non offensive way. me…. not so much…. biodynamic gardening has it's roots in the occult and witchcraft. i will continue to rely on minerals and microbes, thank you very much. it's so sad how gardening seems to be such a slippery slope into darkness. we should be deeply rooted in the truth so that when we are bombarded with counterfeits we will be ready.

  17. Thanks for another informative (and humorous) video. I'm not a philosophically-driven organic gardener (in fact, I really don't know what "organic" means) but I have noticed that most of my gardening practices have evolved to those that are simple and natural. My nature is to be lazy, cheap and skeptical (all of which attract me to your channel).

    The list of credible home-gardening sites is not that long and of course yours is one of the leaders, as well as gardenmyths.com which you've already cited. I would like to suggest that those of your viewers might find some practical gardening insights by looking at pieces published by Charles Dowding who is an advocate of a simple, no-dig approach and has a wealth of other useful tips. Cheers.

  18. hey man ive got a great documentary for you to watch its effing awesome and so vital its called what the health heres a link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfUfTU61cak&t=1020s

  19. I tell people in my communitygarden the same thing about BER.They tell me I do not know what Iam talking about.Like you can not BURN your plants with water on a hot day.

  20. Wow, and to think about all the time that I will never get back that I spend preparing my biodynamic rituals, burying and recovering later in the year, sourcing animal organs and getting myself bloodied, I could have just been hanging out with Oscar??

  21. Thank-you again for the informative entertainment. I've been missing the guitar jingle you usually add in, it's super relaxing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. In the long and tangled web of gardening knowledge, a web that leads to truth if the seeker is wise, there is an abundance of falsity where charlatan spiders eat the child-like fools who stumble in their path.

  23. Biodynamic gardening is the chiropractics of the agriculture world. Unless people really think Daniel Palmer cured the deaf by adjusting their spine. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I find reality much more enlightening…..the best part was watching him not call biodynamic practices bat-*&%@ crazy…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  24. Re biodynamic as you described.
    Reminds me of cults and stuff like that. Such as the Pharoah masturbating in the Nile to improve fertility of Egypt.

  25. Oh gosh Patrick, I wasn't expecting that. I was horrified whilst watching. Not only were some of those tips time consuming, but they're also horrendous for the planet and ultimately that is contrary to the ideas behind why you would want to start growing your own food. Milk for example uses 255 liters of water/ 250 ml! (Never mind what it requires for cheese/ butter.) Buying that simply to put on your compost is incredibly shortsighted. You recommend mulching etc so that we don't need to use more water – saving time, energy, money and drinking water! (Which is so precious.) I'm not sure I can even tackle stuffing bladders and cow horns with various things and burying them. Fantastic video as always but it was really shocking.

  26. Judging from the comments it seems biodynamic gardening/farming is not widespread or much known about in the US. I am also rather sceptical about the potions, but what I also consistently read and hear is that vegetables grown on biodynamic farms look and grow healthier and many say they simply just taste better. It might have to do with the other practices used in conjunction with the potions, I simply don't know. What I do know is that e.g. cows are never de-horned and pigs don't have their tails docked which for me, as a sporadic meat eater and daily dairy product consumer, is an important reason for buying the produce if I can find it. As for sowing according to the moon, Charles Dowding is a great believer in it and he says he sees a difference in germination.

  27. Thanks, Patrick, for being a sane head in a sea of incomprehensible "gardening gurus". It seems that the downside of social media publicity is the number of people willing to put out controversial, if inane, advice just for the sake of getting more subs, more hits, instead of genuinely wanting to help other organic gardeners. I bet Oscar will agree with this.

  28. What's wrong with you Patrick? My garden benefited immensely when I packed a chicken heart full of my own poo. (I don't recommend trying that at home.) I might add though that I did it while I was chatting with Elvis who was interviewing an alien under the light of a full moon at the time. The result is that I'm not sure whether the improvement came from the chicken heart, poo, Elvis, the alien or the full moon. Sometimes, the simple, tried and true methods are easier to work with.

  29. I love the Channel, but this is the first time you have ever let me down. Like anyone in their right mind would use these practices anyhow. If someone is using these types of practices, it would be pointless to tell them they could do without them. I sense a disturbance in The Force…….

  30. Thank you Patrick for the information on biodynamics agriculture. I'm following your do's and do nots and my garden is going like grazy. Your permaculture like way off gardening is really amazing.
    Just that you know, you changed another garden in a eco food forest in the centre of Nijmegen in the Netherlands

  31. That was very interesting! I didn't know people used milk in that way. I know from experience how important it is for tomatoes to receive a steady water supply. I might be a twiddle, but every year when the green tomatoes get to a good size I cover the plants with a solution of dissolved Tums. At least my plants don't get heart burn๐Ÿ˜€!

    I'm really into wine, that Biodynamic thing is really becoming popular in California and French vineyards

  32. Patrick, these are probably my favorite videos of yours, although you teach me something or confirm a suspicion in every video. i take particular pleasure in seeing Rudolf Steiner justly condemned for the fraud that he was, in this and all other disciplines. His ideas about educating children (the Waldorf method), are even more ridiculous than stuffing a deer's bladder with manure.

    Thanks for another great video full of common sense and good advice. Scratch Oscar behind the ears for me.

  33. What am I going to do with all those extra deer bladders I have lying around??? Perhaps you have a good recipe….. heeheehee

  34. http://www.black-bear-haversack.com/index.php/11-to-16-polished-water-buffalo-cow-horn-create-a-powder-horn.html … in case you want to ignore patricks advice and get your cosmic energies on. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  35. How many of our current trends in gardening will be looked at with such humor 100 years from now! HaHaHaaaa! I'm sure that we'll always be in pursuit of things that only cause us to overthink gardening!

  36. Hey Pat, whatโ€™s your thoughts on planting crops by the phases of the moon? I know some folk who swear by it but I tend to plant when I have the time!

  37. Hi, whenever I check my cucumber plant I always see its flowers on ground. i dont know if it's because of winds or what… can you help me?

  38. Thanks Patrick! I haven't believed in their "packed animals parts" spray. What about the equizitum (horse tail- plant) spray. The silica is supposed to be harsh on pests.

  39. 17km from me is the house where Rudolf Steiner was born and there are many organic gardeners promoting BioDynamic agriculture…

  40. LOL I love your definition of Biodynamic agriculture!!! I was once asked what I tough about it and my answer was: It's organic agriculture with witchcraft mixed into it haha! I have a lot of trouble with the lunar calendar also…Anyway, my dear sister lives in Germany and she swears by it, needless to say it's a topic I don't bring up with her anymore ๐Ÿ˜‰

  41. There's some strange ideas out there! I don't bother adding compost or manure to the soil and things still grow OK ๐Ÿ‘

  42. Once again sharing some common sense gardening tips! or, in this case, sharing some non-common sense tips that YOU CAN IGNORE! Thanks Patrick!

  43. That being said, the lactobacilli contained in the whey of the milk, mixed with molasses or sugar and diluted in water (at 1/100 to 1/1000), are a very good kind of efficient microorganisms to have in your beds.

  44. I see you put up text when discussing bio-dynamic woo woo. Was that so people wouldn't think they were misunderstanding the fantastic things being said or because you couldn't keep a straight face?

  45. Patrick, good on ya for being able to keep a straight face when talking about cow horn manure, et al!! I don't think I could've done it.

  46. Categorizing milk as a fertilizer was a misstep. It has a valuable use in the garden in small amounts (diluted in water) as a bio-remediant.
    Like people, soils and plants can have fungal or bacterial overgrowth due to imbalances in these populations. I have found milk particularly useful with celery or celeriac leaf curl due to fungal overgrowth prevalent in high humidity situations. Works like a charm – not because of its calcium, but because, as an animal byproduct, it attenuates fungal growth and feeds beneficial bacteria. I have used it in other fungal overgrowth situations which tend to be a problem in areas receiving lots of rain & high humidity.

  47. Maybe – Dr Mercola may disagree.https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/10/15/biodynamic-farming-effects.aspx.

  48. The cow horn thing? now you ventured into comedian youtuber.. lol next thing to ignore.. how my star sign affects my crops! lol

  49. so I shouldn't stuff sauerkraut into my mother in laws old underwear …..then bury it and then smoke it and use the ash as a fertilizer …..?

  50. Biodynamic is some messed up gardening method, gotta be sick to think up horns stuffed with manure.

  51. You have a lot of useful info in some videos, but to shun an entire practice seems a little off and naive. You should be better than that. Do a blind taste test with a biody farm vs yours. Thatโ€™s a video I would like to see.

  52. Never heard of biodynamic gardening. Iโ€™m old surprised I have never heard of it. Only reason we have ever used milk for fertilizer is due to the over abundance of it. When you have 2 silos full of milk and no buyer only other options is fertilizer. If itโ€™s free use it.
    I like your channel. Lots of good information

  53. What would cause an increase in uptake of sulphur and potassium? It seems testable. Perhaps something about the bladder treatment performs the right chemistry that yarrow doesnโ€™t inherently possess. Similarly the horn compost sounds like an inoculant rather than direct source of nutrients. I donโ€™t know much on the topic but humans developed all sorts of weird habits before we could explain why they worked (early beer makers always stirred with the same stick for consistent batches not knowing it was where the yeast came from. You could easily think it was stirring counterclockwise for 50 turns under a full moon with a stick shaped like a steers leg if that was your first killer batch.) Iโ€™m not saying you should follow the treatments but at least some might have logical explanations behind the curtain.

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