Saturday, April 21, 2012
CORN GLUTEN: MAGIC STUFF?
As the story goes, decades ago some university agriculture student just happened to notice that along railroad tracks where hopper cars had spilled corn, there were no annual weeds growing! He or she apparently convinced their university faculty to research this phenomenon. The result was the knowledge that the gluten in corn creates a sort of germination barrier on or very near the surface of the soil. Where that barrier exists weed seeds can't germinate into weed plants. Out of this knowledge have sprung a number of "organic" weed control products based on corn gluten. As it so happens the corn gluten is also a very good source of slow release nitrogen. That makes it an excellent lawn fertilizer/ weed control product base.
The first product of this kind I'd ever heard of was WOW (for without weeds) sold by Gardens Alive, an online and mail-order seller of organic gardening, household and pet management products. I've been buying and exclusively over-seeding my lawn with their Turf Alive grass seed for as long as I've known about them. Their grasses send roots 4' to 6' deep and carry a grub killer producing beneficial fungus (endophyte) that keeps the lawn pest free as well. I water the lawn maybe once or twice a season on average and it stays green way deeper into drought than anyone else's on my block..
Well on to what's new! This season I noticed my Ace carrying lawn care products by "Jonathan Green Organics". I have been using a mix of Ringers Lawn Restore, Milornanite, Ironite and limestone pellets exclusively, seasonally adjusting proportions for almost 2 decades. All of which I have been buying at La Grange Park Ace Hardware. This week's flier from them shows Jonathan Green Organic Weed Control plus fertilizer. It is advertised as a corn gluten based product. I'm going to give it a try.
There are a couple of cautionary notes to include here. Corn gluten is exclusively a pre-emergence weed control product. That means it won't have any effect on established perennial weed plants. As an effective pre-emergence product it will interfere with the germination of grass seed you have spread and any grass plant that has has yet to establish itself. I believe it's mechanism is to suppress root development in the soil's surface fraction of an inch where seeds germinate and new plants begin to establish themselves.
Well on to the Ace to get some!