Yesterday I posted about a lawn care task, specifically applying corn gluten as a pre-emergent herbicide. It's organic, safe, prevents weeds from growing, smells like corn-based snacks -- what more could a gardener ask for? Well, maybe that it actually works. You see, it was pointed out in the comments that another study was done, and its results questioned the utility of corn gluten as a pre-emergent. In fact, that study concluded that it had no herbicidal properties at all.
Although it's difficult or impossible for most of us to duplicate those studies that universities do -- we have everything except the time, experience, equipment, manpower, and funding -- in this case I think I can do a simple test to satisfy my own curiosity. So today I'm starting an experiment to see if the corn gluten works for me.
I'm starting with some fresh seed starting mix:
Then I'm adding a liberal amount of grass seed:
This is seed from last fall that my neighbor donated specifically for the test although he did not know it. I asked for a tablespoon of seed and got at least a cup of it, so there's plenty to redo the test if something goes wrong.
I just spread it over the surface of the "soil", trying to get the coverage as even as I could:
Then I put down the corn gluten over half of the area:
|Yes, I'd like to order a 12" deep dish, half corn gluten, half cheese please.|
Then watered well using my spray bottle, and covered with a thin sheet of plexiglass:
I'll keep the grass seed moist by spraying it a couple of times a day if needed, and hopefully will see some green in a few days. How long does it take for grass seed to germinate? It's been several years since I've seeded my lawn...
What I hope to see is that the corn-free side germinates fully, while the side that's been glutenized will be free of any grass blades, or will have noticeably fewer plants.
I've already thought of a problem though. Grass seed may germinate too quickly, and the corn gluten may not have had enough time to break down and release it's inhibitors. So if I see the grass germinate equally on both sides I'll have to redo the test, adding the corn gluten to the soil a week or so before adding the grass seeds.
I'll be reporting on this in a few days, or however long it takes the grass seed to germinate. I hope it doesn't take too long -- I'm running out of room on my seed starting table and I haven't even really started any veggie seeds yet!