Adding Corn Gluten Meal to Nitrogen Deficient Soil

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Soil that is deficient in nitrogen will not provide the appropriate level of nourishment to your plants. Clay plants don't have this problem as the high concentration of clay ensures a steady supply of nitrogen and phosphorus. However, conventional soil gardens don't have a substantial concentration of clay, and many gardeners find it difficult to measure/add the suitable amount of clay.

An easier way to increase  the nitrogen nutrition for the plants is by adding corn gluten meal (CGM). This is a completely natural derivative produced during the milling of corn. Gluten meal is also used for making many foods like taco shells and corn chips. 

Corn Gluten Meal

CGM is a nitrogen-rich ingredient because nearly 60 percent of its composition is protein. When added to the soil, the protein decomposes, leaching precious nitrogen that can be absorbed by the plants.

Besides being a nitrogenous fertilizer, CGM is also a natural herbicide, known to be effective against many common garden weeds.

Adding Corn Gluten Meal

Adding CGM to your garden soil isn't difficult, but you should know what to expect. CGM can be applied in the form of a yellow-colored powder or as small pellets. The pellet form, however, is used when added as a weedicide in larger farms rather than a nitrogen fertilizer for gardens. 

How Much Corn Gluten Meal to Add

As a general rule of thumb, add 20 lbs. of CGM for every 1000 square feet of the garden soil. However, many retailed CGM packets have their own suggested ratios for application. Another common calculation is 5 to 10 Kg of CGM per 100 square meters of soil.

Every hundred pounds of CGM has more than 10 lbs. of stored nitrogen. It takes nearly 2 months for the results to show. 

How to Apply Corn Gluten Meal

The best method is to mix the powdered form of CGM and with the topsoil (about ¼-inch of the upper soil layer) before transplanting the seedlings or sowing garden seeds. Use a conventional lawn spreader to easily add to your garden.

A few notes on application:

  • When adding CGM for weed control, concentrate the dosage along the soil surface.
  • After application, always water the garden soil.
  • Don't overwater the soil. Just make it wet and then leave it to dry.
  • If you have spilled some CGM, just spread it using a rake. There is no need to remove the spilled extra powder.

When to Add Corn Gluten Meal

CGM can be added to soil as often as 3 times a year. If the soil is seriously nitrogen-deficient, you can even add applications quarterly. For best results, add in fall and spring, as this is the best time for it to seep into the soil bed. If you are using CGM pellets, then application in early spring is ideal.

You may use CGM not only to nourish the soil, but to kill weeds as well. In this case, apply just before the dry period sets in. If your garden tends to dry up quickly, make sure that you water it daily to enable the absorption of CGM.

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