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Corn Meal Gluten Organic Weed Preventative (as seen in his weekly column in the Philadelphia Daily News)

I get LOTS of questions about organic ways to control weeds. Just the other day, someone e-mailed me whose lawn was covered in wild violets last year, something that he did not want to happen this year! The same day, I got a "crabgrass-in-my-lawn" question. Both listeners wanted to know about the organic pre-emergent herbicide I had mentioned on the show a while back... Before I tell you about the herbicide, here's a little tip:

Pick and sell those violets to gourmet restaurants; they're highly edible! (Not so applicable to the crabgrass question, I admit, but a good solution also for young dandelions, eat them before they form flower buds, after which they develop that taste you didn't like when you decided you didn't like the taste of dandelion greens...

Anyway, here's the answer you want:

This fabulous organic pre-emergent herbicide is essentially just corn gluten meal. One day, researchers, probably trying it out as a fertilizer, discovered that the stuff prevents all seeds from germinating. (So you can't use it at the same time as fresh grass seed, it stops ALL seeds from germinating.)

It's been around for quite a few years now, it's getting more and more available and is sold under a variety of brand names. (You could also try and find plain old bulk corn gluten meal.)

The original marketer of the stuff is Gardens Alive! (Yes, the "!" is part of their name; terminally cute, eh?) They're a mail order outfit, but they also have organic garden product sections in many of the Wild Bird Center chain stores around the country. Their brand name for the gluten/herbicide used to be A Maizeing Lawn (or some such spelling of that also too-cute phrase), but now they sells it as WOW! (actually, I think they call it "WOW! Plus" because it also fertilizes while it prevents weed seeds from germinating).

So it prevents weed seeds from germinating, feeds your lawn, AND research has shown that it's effectiveness increases with years of use.

Gardens Alive! is on the web at where you can find all the information you'll need.

The gardening information contained in this site is copyright 1999 by Mike McGrath, and is for the use of WHYY-FM/Public Radio listeners only. Such listeners can print it out for their own use and such, but under no circumstances may be it sold in any manner, used in a book or periodical, on another website or for any commercial purposes of any kind without the express written consent of Mike McGrath. To obtain such permission, e-mail Mike McGrath at ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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