One thing that I find really great about the natural way of gardening is how so many people have discovered so many everyday, everyday alternative ways to help solve their gardening problems. Ways to help us not be so dependent on synthetic chemicals.
A very common plant grown all over the planet is corn. It is mind-boggling how many products are made from this simple plant today. Several years ago, at a Texas A&M research station in Stephenville, it was noticed that a peanut crop, which usually suffers from fungal diseases, had no fungal problems. It turns out that the same area had previously grown corn. After further research it was discovered that corn / cornmeal, by decomposing, attracts very beneficial organisms, good fungi. Fungi as effective against fungal diseases as common artificial fungicides.
Today, horticultural cornmeal, not food grade processed cornmeal, is a fungicide commonly used by home gardeners. Food grade cornmeal is primarily starch. Horticultural grade cornmeal has a higher protein content and more nitrogen.
Horticultural cornmeal is used on all types of plant and human fungal problems, from brown spot on lawns to athlete’s foot and nail fungus in humans. Most commonly used on lawns and different types of plants.
Cornmeal doesn’t actually kill bad fungi, but creates the right conditions for beneficial organisms to take hold and thrive. One of these good organisms is a family of fungi called Trichoderma. These little guys are cannibalistic mushrooms who seem to only kill the unwanted mushrooms and leave the good mushrooms alone. Rhizoctonia solani, the brown plaque fungus is quickly eliminated by the Trichoderma fungus. Cornmeal used as a preventative on a lawn prevents the brown spot from starting. Ten to 20 pounds of cornmeal can treat an area of 1,000 square feet.
Until next time, let’s try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all of our weeds will turn into wildflowers.
Laurie Garretson is a gardener and nurseryman in Victoria. Send your gardening questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or Lawyer Care, PO Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.