Milk Fed Pumpkins: Do Pumpkins Grow Bigger When Fed Milk?

Milk Fed Pumpkins

The book Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder made the idea of giving pumpkin milk more well-known. In the book, a young farmer boy feeds a pumpkin with an IV-like method.

He cuts a slit along the vine and puts a wick into the vine, with the other end of the wick in a mason jar full of milk. In the end, the boy wins a blue ribbon for the biggest pumpkin in the county!

Growing huge pumpkins is a pretty popular hobby among gardeners and enthusiastic farmers. From what I’ve read, nobody claims to milk-feed their contest pumpkins. 

Among other things, they give one pumpkin plant a huge amount of space—about 500 to 1,500 square feet. They water that pumpkin plant a lot. They also cut down to one pumpkin per plant. 

In reality, milk is an expensive and inefficient fertilizer. I think it would also be a mess to work with because it would turn sour, stink, or evaporate and need to be refilled regularly.

Still, the thought of feeding a plant with an IV is an interesting one. And maybe the extra sugar can help a pumpkin retain more moisture? But do pumpkins grow bigger when fed milk? This is an interesting fact we want to find out in this article.

What Is a Milk Fed Pumpkin?

According to some experts and specialists in the field of growing gigantic pumpkins, we can grow bigger or giant pumpkins with milk and the right formula. They said pumpkins should be grown with rich, dense, composted manure, organic soil, plenty of water, and regular feedings. 

They suggested using water-soluble or organic fertilizers. This nourishes the entire plant, resulting in healthy and huge fruit.

Milk is one of the first organic supplements since it has a high concentration of minerals and vitamins that aid in the growth of the pumpkin. Calcium is good for our bones and is often thought of as the main ingredient in milk.

Milk has been injected into a pumpkin plant by some gardeners. For a long time, farmers have used milk to feed pumpkins, known as the “milk-fed pumpkin technique.” Milk can be used in a variety of ways to grow enormous pumpkins. 

Do Milk Fed Pumpkins Grow Bigger?

The video below shows one such grower with over 10 years of experience growing giant pumpkins.

How to Grow a Giant Pumpkin: Secrets to Growing 1000+ Pound Pumpkins

How to Grow a Giant Pumpkin: Secrets to Growing 1000+ Pound Pumpkins

I haven’t seen any evidence that people who put a lot of work into growing big pumpkins use milk as a fertilizer. Growers of huge pumpkins use a variety of fertilizers. They follow complicated fertilization regimes. 

Read: How to Make Liquid Fertilizer From Chicken Manure

Jamie Johnson, a skilled pumpkin grower, goes through all you need to know about growing a 1,000 pound pumpkin in this hour-long video. Here are a few pointers.

  • Pumpkin Type or Variety. The genetics of the seed must be able to produce large pumpkins. Choose a pumpkin cultivar that is popular and proven for producing large pumpkins.
  • Healthy Soil. Grow pumpkin plants in good and healthy soil, according to a soil test. This soil test will reveal 13 nutrient levels as well as the pH of your soil.
  • Multiple Fertilizer. Jamie presents two alternatives for fertilizer in the video. The most basic fertilizer strategy is to apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer for the first half of the plant’s life. Then, switch to bloom booster fertilizer after the pumpkins have been pollinated. He also discusses an advanced fertilizer method that he employs and explains it in depth in the video.
  • Space to Grow. According to the expert pumpkin grower, each pumpkin plant should be given 400–800 square feet!
  • Vine Burying. Bury the vine’s early section in the soil. This will establish additional roots along with the vine’s beginning. It will help feed the huge pumpkin. 

Milk as a Pumpkin Fertilizer

milk fed pumpkins

Milk has calcium, vitamin B, proteins, and sugars that will all help feed a plant. However, the ingredients in milk are not particularly helpful for plants. Other organic materials are commonly used as fertilizers.

You could make a nice smoothie with your favorite yogurt, bananas, strawberries, and some ice, dilute it with water, and pour it on your plants. They’d use the nutrients from the soil as they broke down, but you’d be better off drinking the smoothie yourself.

Organic Plant Magic is my favorite organic all-purpose fertilizer. It has a lot of different organic materials, including bone ash, humate, and kelp. It measures 6-5-5, has 55 trace minerals, and over 10 different strains of beneficial soil bacteria and fungi.

There are lots of different organic materials that master growers use to bolster the specific nutrient needs of plants. If you watched the video above, the pumpkin grower explained his own advanced nutrition strategy. He uses it to grow award-winning pumpkins.

To get more specific about your plant’s fertilizer, you then need to do a soil test. To go a step further, farmers do tissue analysis of their crops by taking a piece of plant and sending it in to be tested for nutrient deficiencies.

To get more specific about your plant’s fertilizer, you then need to do a soil test. To go a step further, farmers do tissue analysis of their crops by taking a piece of plant and sending it in to be tested for nutrient deficiencies.

How To Milk Feed a Pumpkin

There are three different ways to feed pumpkin milk. The IV method involves pouring it directly into the soil and spraying it on as a foliar spray.

IV Method

The IV method is to cut a slit into the vine. The slit should be about halfway through the vine and 1-2 inches long. The slit should be between the base of the plant and the blossom or pumpkin seed you want to fertilize.

A candle wick is what the boy in the story used. You could also use a strip of cotton or a lantern wick.

You need to be very careful when inserting the wick into the vine. Do not pull the vine apart to fit the wick in. Use a small screwdriver and push the wick down into the slit you created in the vine. Then wrap the slit and wick it with medical tape to cover the opening.

Put a hole in the lid of a mason jar or milk container, and feed the wick through the hole. Mound up dirt and dig a little hole in the mound for the container to sit in so that it doesn’t get knocked over.

Pour Milk Directly into the Soil

This is a simple and effective way to use milk as fertilizer. You can mix it with water to stretch the milk and allow you to “water” a larger area. As mentioned before, milk is an expensive fertilizer.

Spraying Milk on Pumpkin Foliage

Spraying milk on foliage to feed a plant works somewhat. The plant will absorb some nutrients from the milk.

In 1999, a commercial cucumber grower in Brazil published a study. The study showed that spraying milk on the leaves effectively got rid of powdery mildew.

I couldn’t find the study to post it, but there is another study posted below. Both pumpkins and cucumbers are cucurbits, so it would make sense that it would be a good way to control powdery mildew on pumpkin foliage.

This study, published in Science Direct, studied just that. They found that the milk spray to control powdery mildew was somewhat effective. Also, whole milk was more effective than skim milk.

Personally, I’ll stick with neem oil to deal with powdery mildew and most garden pests.

Does Sugar Water Help Pumpkins Grow?

However, if you want to grow large pumpkins that could win a blue ribbon at a county fair, you’ll need to put in extra effort and use old-fashioned methods. 

Sugar, for example, may help your pumpkins grow much larger than they would with only sun and water.

  • First, you need to choose a location in your garden area that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. The soil should have an equal pH balance and drain well.
  • Purchase a bag of compost and add two or three trowelfuls to each square foot of growing area.
  • Cover the roots of a bunch of two to three seedlings with dirt and space them 2 or 3 inches apart. Place another patch of one or two seeds at least 5 feet apart if you wish to grow more than one pumpkin.
  • Water your pumpkin plants four to seven times a week to keep them moist, and give them around two inches of water every week.
  • Wait until a pumpkin has formed and grown to about 6 inches in diameter.
  • Fill a basin halfway with water and halfway with white granulated sugar. This will also work if you wish to use milk instead of water. Dip your cotton thread in the solution.
  • Make a tiny incision at the bottom of the pumpkin’s stem, around 4 inches above the pumpkin, with your knife. One end of the cotton thread should be inserted into the slit, while the other end should be kept in the sugar-water mixture. The sugar concoction will gently suffocate the pumpkin, allowing it to grow larger.
  • If you see the sugar mixture getting low, top it over with more. Continue doing so for at least two weeks, or until your huge pumpkin is ready to be harvested.

Final Conclusion

In conclusion, the jury is still out on whether milk-fed pumpkins get bigger. There are many factors that could affect the size of a pumpkin, such as the type of pumpkin, the way it is fed, soil conditions, and the climate. 

However, milk does have some beneficial properties that could help a pumpkin grow bigger. If you are interested in trying milk-fed pumpkins to grow your pumpkin, be sure to keep track of the results and share them with others.

Additional research is needed to make a definitive conclusion. Until then, it might be worth trying this method to see if it works for you.


Do pumpkins grow larger when fed milk?

No, pumpkins do not grow larger when fed milk. Pumpkins typically require fertile soil, water, and sunlight for optimal growth. Feeding them milk does not provide significant benefits for pumpkin size.

Can pumpkins grow bigger by giving them milk every day?

No, giving milk every day will not make pumpkins grow larger. Pumpkins need comprehensive care, including fertile soil, proper irrigation, and sufficient sunlight.

Are there any benefits to giving milk to pumpkin plants?

There are no specific benefits that can be derived from giving milk to pumpkin plants. The essential nutrients for pumpkin growth are generally obtained through conventional means such as soil and water.

Is milk considered a reliable fertilizer for pumpkins?

Milk as a pumpkin fertilizer has a minimal impact on size. The key factors for optimal pumpkin growth involve a balanced approach to nutrients, including soil enrichment.

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