Corn Gluten - Natural Alternative to Weed and Feed April 07, 2006 7:40 PM
Ok. We use corn gluten on our lawn and my parents are regular users of corn gluten. Our experience is: it kills crab grass but doesn't do a thing for dandelions - which is ok because dandelions are edible What we've learned using corn gluten is that it has to be applied right when the buds are appearing on the trees and it can take up to 3 years to eradicate the crab grass. You'll notice a major improvement the first year but it takes a few years to see it all go away. Put down the corn gluten just before a rainfall if possible or else you'll have to water like crazy to get it dissolved into the soil. We always have the challenge of getting it on the lawn and watered in before the ducks come by and eat it all up. I swear the husband and wife mallard duck team are waiting in the bushes for us to lay down the corn gluten because ironically they appear right after we're done and start having a feast!
One of the most important breakthroughs in organic lawn care has its roots in a fortunate accident by Iowa State University researcher Nick Christians. The natural herbicide that resulted from his research (made from corn gluten meal) is now patented, and is licensed for use in turf and home gardens as an alternative to weed and feed products.
Corn gluten meal is a powdery byproduct of the corn milling process. Used for years as a supplement in hog feed, this natural protein is very effective for lawns and gardens as a plant food as well as a weed supressor. Corn gluten meal products offer a non-toxic, yet effective alternative to traditional, chemical-based weed and feed products for weed control in gardens and lawns, paths and driveways.
As a plant food, corn gluten has a N-P-K ratio of 9-1-0, or 10% nitrogen by weight. As a weed suppressant, corn gluten acts as a natural "pre-emergent" - it inhibits seed germination by drying out a seed as soon as it cracks open to sprout. These qualities make corn gluten an ideal 'weed n feed' product.
Corn gluten meal for lawn and garden use comes in three forms: unprocessed - very fine, almost powdery in texture. Can be broadcast by hand, but for best results use a hand seeder. It will look like a layer of pollen on the soil. Must be applied directly on bare earth or around new plantings because it can't work its way down through grass or mulch. Unprocessed corn gluten can be purchased from feed stores as an ingredient in dog, poultry and hog feed.
granulated - easiest to apply using a spreader. Can also be mixed with water into a paste to use as a patch for localized weed supression. The patch will keep weeds from sprouting while the surrounding plants fill in.
pelletized - can be broadcast by hand. This is an excellent treatment for lawns in spring and fall; a general application will add nutrients to your lawn while discouraging the growth of new weeds.
Among the weeds controlled with pre-emergent application of the product are crabgrass, dandelions, smart weed, redroot pigweed, purslane, lambsquarters, foxtail, and barnyard grass. The three forms of corn gluten meal described above are comparable in effectiveness.
Cost: prices will vary by brand and quantity, but corn gluten-based products are a little more expensive than traditional chemical-based weed n feed products.