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  Mike's Gardening Tips

Plan NOW for a Weed-Free Lawn: Naturally!

Q. Hi Mike! A while back you talked about using gluten for dandelion control in the early Spring. What kind of gluten?~Wheat?~Corn? Can you please advise? Best wishes,
-Bill B.; Monmouth County, NJ.

Dear Mike: I love your show--my Saturday chores are scheduled around it!~Now, are there any local outlets that sell "WOW"~(the corn gluten product from Gardens Alive)? I'd like to pick it up nearby and save the shipping charges. Thank you much,
-Susan from Princeton, NJ

A. Hey--thank YOUSE! Weed-preventing corn gluten meal (CGM) is one of my favorite organic products, but you have to use it early in the Spring to get the best results, and I always seem to get around to talking about it a week or two later than I should. Well, not THIS year, baby! Here's everything you need to know to have it in hand in plenty of time to confound that crabgrass!

The basics: Dr. Nick Christians of Iowa State University was running some turfgrass experiments, used corn gluten meal as a carrier for something he was testing, and the grass seed didn't germinate. Dr. Nick soon discovered that something in CGM prevents the successful sprouting of ALL seeds. Eureka: The first organic pre-emergent herbicide was born! Bonus: CGM is naturally high in nitrogen, the plant food grass craves the most--so it also feeds your lawn! Organic 'weed and feed'!

To get the maximum benefit, you need to spread it as soon as the air warms up enough for weed seeds to start sprouting. (The ideal time would be when you see the first yellow flowers appear on forsythia.) Ten to twenty pounds per thousand square feet of turf. It'll prevent crabgrass, pigweed, purslane and all other annual weeds from successfully sprouting. It won't get rid of existing perennial weeds, like established dandelions. But it WILL prevent any new ones from getting started. (So pull up the old ones and you should be done.) Its effectiveness increases with each use. Apply it every Spring and Fall, and you'll control your weeds, and give your lawn most of the food it needs.

The organic mail order supply company "Gardens Alive!" pioneered the use of corn gluten with two products: "Wow", which is pure corn gluten, and "Wow Plus", which has added natural fertilizers. Sure, they charge for shipping, but they also have sales, rebates and special offers (their latest catalog says they'll knock $25 off an order of $35 or more!). www.gardensalive.com; 513-354-1482 (they're near Cincinnati).

Local sources: "Weed Prevention Plus" is the name of Concern's CGM. Their five-pound bag contains pure corn gluten; the 25-pounder has added natural fertilizers. The "Concern" line of natural garden products is available at national chains and lots of other local stores. http://www.victorpest.com/; or call toll-free:1-800-800-1819.

"Base Organics" near Reading, PA sells 50 pound bags of "Weedban", which is pure CGM. They deliver to areas near Philly; the bigger the order, the further they'll go. http://www.baseorganics.com; 610-927-1942.

The "Pure Barnyard" Company sells "Cockadoodle Doo" brand CGM in 50 pound bags at local retail outlets, like Snyder's in Hatfield, PA. To find the one nearest you, go to http://www.purebarnyard.com; 603-772-4674

You might find corn gluten meal in bulk at local farm supply stores--although it won't be labeled as an herbicide if they don't pay the licensing fee to Iowa State. Speaking of which, if you'd like to read the research on this amazing stuff, go to Dr. Nick's info pages at http://www.gluten.iastate.edu.

PS: It prevents ALL seeds from germinating; so don't use it on freshly sown grass seed.

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