Using Cornmeal as a Garden Fungicide

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    Using Cornmeal as a Garden Fungicide

    Who would have thought that something as seemingly innocuous as cornmeal would have such potent fungicidal properties? Researchers at Texas A&M Research Station in Stephenville, TX, noticed that a peanut crop planted following a crop of corn didn’t suffer the usual fungus diseases. Further research showed that cornmeal contained beneficial organisms that were at least as effective as common chemical fungicides. Somehow cornmeal is able to attract a member of the Trichoderma fungus family, which is a good fungus that kills off disease causing fungi in a matter of weeks.

    Howard Garrett, the Dirt Doctor, has continued the study and finds cornmeal effective on most everything from turf grass to black spot on roses. Furthermore, since it is entirely organic, it can be used on edible crops.

    How To Apply

    Dry: Work 2 pounds of cornmeal into the soil for every 100 square feet. Water well, to activate the fungus killing properties. One application per season is usually sufficient, but repeat applications won’t hurt anything.

    Spray: What’s called ‘cornmeal juice’ can be made by soaking 1 cup of cornmeal in 1 gallon of water overnight. Strain the liquid and use as a spray on susceptible plants.

    Cornmeal vs. Horticultural Cornmeal vs. Corn Gluten

    Any type of cornmeal can be used as a fungicide.

    Food grade cornmeal, found in grocery stores, will work just fine, but it is more expensive and comes in smaller quantities than horticultural cornmeal.

    Horticultural cornmeal has not been stored under the stricter guidelines required for food grade cornmeal. Hort cornmeal is general used for livestock feed. It too will work just fine as a fungicide and it comes in bulk.

    ***Corn Gluten should not be used as a fungicide. Corn Gluten is cornmeal that has been processed to have a higher protein content. Iowa State researchers discovered that cornmeal gluten can inhibit seed germination. It is now used as a pre-emergent weed killer.
    That’s a great tip, but don’t confuse corn gluten with the fungicidal properties of corn meal.

    A final bonus, cornmeal also appears to be a source of nutrients for the soil.

    This really works! Last year, some of my herbs got a fungus. I tried other methods to get rid of it, including cutting them back, but none helped for long. Finally, I dusted the plants with plain dry yellow cornmeal. I had to do it several times over the course of a couple of weeks, mostly because we had so much rain, but the fungus was cured. It stayed cured for the rest of the year.

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