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Monday, September 10, 2007

Corn Glutening The Yard

One of the first gardening blogs I read was Rosemarie's garden. As soon as I read about her using Corn Gluten on her grass and saw how beautiful it was, I was immediately intrigued. An organic weed control slash fertilizer - this is right up my alley!

Since then, I've been researching the use of corn gluten and how it came to be used as a weed control product. I'm sure you garden geeks already know this but here's what our local extension office has to say about corn gluten to control crab grass...

"The idea of using corn gluten meal for weed control burst on the scene in the early 1990's after Dr. Nick Christians at Iowa State accidentally discovered its herbicidal properties while he was testing it for suppression of turf diseases. After several years of efficacy studies and product development, corn gluten meal has gained national attention as being the first effective "organic" herbicide. Corn gluten meal is not a registered pesticide because the U.S. EPA has granted an exemption for corn gluten meal as an herbicide."

I should have applied the stuff earlier in the summer (Memorial Day, July 4th) but to be honest, my priorities were buying plants with every spare dime, not spending my garden money on what could be a crap shoot of a product. But, one day while perusing my favorite local greenhouse, there it was sitting on the shelf. When I called later for a price check, the lady informed me that they only had one bag left and that it was damaged so they'd sell it to me for 1/2 price. Half price!!! Who cares of the bag was open! She taped it up for me as best she could and charged me 15 bucks for a 40 pound bag. SCORE one for my skinny garden! I wanted to post a picture of the bag from the manufacturer website but I wasn't sure if that was breaking some blog law so I didn't.

One thing I'd like to say about corn gluten - IT STINKS REALLY REALLY BAD! It totally stunk up my car just from carrying it home in my trunk. I was scared to take it out of my car and store it in the garage for fear that it would attract some crazy rodents to my garage who would tear the bag, eat all the corn gluten then set up house and start having little rodent babies that would eat my garden, the trash, and eventually take over the world. Finally, after I could no longer stand the smell in my car, I decided to risk it and I threw it over in the corner of the garage where it has been for several weeks. No rodents yet!

Yesterday, I decided it was about time I get this stuff on the grass. I have no fancy spreader but I did find one of the cheapy hand held ones in the garage. In keeping with the clueless garden theme, I had NO idea how to apply this stuff. The bag and the internet simply said 20 pounds per 1000 square feet. HELLO??? THAT DOES NOT HELP ME!! My spreader thingy has numbers 1-3. I decided that using it on a "2" setting would be my best chance of getting something like "20 pounds per 1000 square feet" but it didn't matter because the stupid thing was broken. I ended up using an empty plastic flower pot with holes in the bottom to sprinkle it on the grass. I figured since it's not a chemical I didn't really need to worry about putting too much on the grass.

I don't know how long it will take before I'll notice something or even what to look for. If anybody has a clue, please tell me.


  1. Gina: Corn gluten is on my list for lawn care. I can tell you that it is a Nitrogen fertilizer and works as a weed suppressant when applied in early spring. Here it is recommended to apply it when the forsythias are in bloom as it does work as a pre-emergent seed killer. Therefore, do not use it if you are going to re-seed your lawn. Can't wait to see the results!

  2. Hey Gina, Glad to see you got on the corn meal bandwagon! I hope I didn't lead you astray! We use a spreader to apply it and basically we just throw it everywhere evenly and then water the grass. 3x a summer (easy to remember Memorial Day/ July 4th/ Labor Day). It is an herbacide, like layanee said, so don't apply it if you're trying to grow grass. Basically it doesn't allow anything to germinate. It should also make your grass grow like wildfire, so you'll be cutting it more often.

    We have such a small lawn area that one bag lasts us 5 applications. So over the winter I left it in the shed and a family of mice ate through the bag and set up house. Fortunately they found new digs by the time I discovered it in April. But yes, mice will like the corn meal.