The Great Corn Gluten Meal Experiment: A Memo by Linda Witt

There are several NON-organic “weed and feed” products on the market – but not for this garden, thank you. Instead we’ve found a totally organic pre-emergent that is so non-toxic it can even be used in pet food. Developed by Nick Christians at Iowa State University, corn gluten meal is the starchy protein-rich part of the corn kernel leftover after corn starch and corn syrup are removed. It works as a pre-emergent, by keeping newly sprouting seeds from developing a root system, yet it poses no harm to perennials, bulbs, or transplants such as tomatoes. We are hoping that using it will reduce the time we all spend trying to eradicate weeds.

The yellow powder – of which there are now two 40 bags in the shed — is perfect for using on paths and other common areas where weed seeds are abundant. As a pre-emergent, CGM is works for 5-6 weeks, but it feeds established plants for several months. The N-P-K ratio is 9-1-0 or 10 per cent nitrogen by weight.

How to use it:

• Weed out any obvious weeds that have overwintered or already spouted, and sprinkle CGM in their place. Most annual and perennials weed seeds sprout in spring or early summer, but some winter weeds may already be in existence.

• Sprinkle CGM along paths and fences, in the orchard, and in established flower gardens — EXCEPT where you will be planting seeds. Supposedly CMG can prevent bindweed (field morning glory), tradescantia (spiderwort), and various grasses and other weeds from establishing themselves.

• If it does not rain within five days of applying, water it in with approximately .25 inches of water.

• If you miss some weeds in pathways or along the fences, pull them when you see them and then reapply CMG. Be aggressive and we may not have to be aggressive next year.

• Reapply CMG in late summer as needed.

– Linda W

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