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Cornmeal, Uses and Reports


1. BED PREPARATION - Whole ground or horticultural cornmeal should be used at 20 - 40 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. as a source of nutrients, organic matter and natural disease control. For better results, also add dry molasses at 20 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. Cornmeal can be used as the primary bed prep material or mixed with any of the amendments mentioned in the Basic Organic Program.

2. PLANT DISEASE CONTROL - For black spots on your roses, purple spots and yellow leaves on your photinia and Indian hawthorn, brown patch in your St. Augustine grass, damping off in newly planted seedlings or algae in your pond or water feature, you don’t have to use toxic chemicals like the synthetic fungicides such as Daconil or Bayleton or heavy metal products like copper sulfate. Whole ground cornmeal works better. Use it for root and soil borne fungal diseases at 10 - 20 lbs. per 1,000 square feet. Cornmeal works as a disease fighter in the soil by stimulating beneficial microorganisms that feed on pathogens such as brown patch (rhizoctonia) in St. Augustine, damping off disease (pythium, rhizoctonia, fusarium, and/or phytophthora) in seedlings and other fungal diseases in a wide range of plants. Use cornmeal at about 2 lbs. per 100 square feet around plants to help control any soil borne fungal diseases on both food and ornamental crops. One application may be all that is needed, but multiple applications are okay if necessary because cornmeal serves as a mild organic fertilizer and soil builder. Cornmeal needs moisture to activate. Rain won't hurt cornmeal's efficacy because, like all organic products, it is not water-soluble. Cornmeal tea can also be used for disease control. Soak 1 cup of cornmeal in 5 gallons of water for an hour, strain out the solids and spray the foliage of plants. It can also be used to drench the soil.
Cornmeal only works in an organic program. When toxic chemical products are used, the effect of the cornmeal will be lost. Additional information can be obtained from the following publications: Cornmeal – It’s Not Just Hog Feed Anymore, The Peanut Farmer, May 1996. Aquaculture Engineering 9 (1990) 175-186. 
3. ALGAE CONTROL IN WATER – Cornmeal is good to use for cleaning up algae in ponds. For floating paint-like and filamentous algae in water, use cornmeal at 5 lbs. per 1,000 square feet or 140 lbs. per surface acre. The cellulose in the cornmeal helps tie up the excess phosphorous in water, balances the water chemistry and thus kills off the algae. The carbon in the cornmeal enables the beneficial bacteria in the water to flourish at the expense of the algae, then the decomposing algae provide a source of carbon for the bacteria. One or two treatments is usually enough to control the algae for several months. Getting the cornmeal to the bottom of the water increases the effectiveness. One technique is to put in a burlap bag with a rock. Small water features can use cornmeal in mesh bags. Pelletized cornmeal, although harder to find, is good because it sinks. Caution: any fast algae kill from any product can cause oxygen deprivation and result in fish kill. Cornmeal from the grocery store (unless whole ground) is just the starchy endosperm of the corn kernel and not as effective. 
4. COMPOST STIMULATION - It should be used at 1 lb. per cubic yard of compost to stimulate beneficial decomposing microbes, to neutralize contaminates or just speed up the composting process. It can be used at much higher rates for accelerated results.
5. WEED CONTROL - Corn gluten meal (as opposed to cornmeal) is a powerful natural “Weed and Feed” fertilizer and is available in powdered and granular forms. The granular form is less effective, but much less messy to use. Broadcast either at 20 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. before weed seeds germinate in early spring and fall. It not only helps control weeds, but it is also an excellent organic fertilizer with an analysis of about 9-1-1. For best results, it should be watered in after application and then go through a dry period. It can also be used in containers for feeding and weed control. An even better use for CGM is for bare soil around newly planted food and ornamental transplants. In both cases 20 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. or 2 lbs. per 100 sq. ft. is the rate to use.
6. ANIMAL AND HUMAN FUNGUS SOLUTIONS - Organic fungus control for toenails, skin problems, etc.

What was originally reported to me by a listener and now used successfully by many to cure toenail fungus is to put 1” of cornmeal in a flat pan that’s large enough for your feet. Add enough room temperature water to cover the cornmeal. Let it sit for an hour. Then add warm water for comfort, enough to cover the feet and soak for about 2 hours. Softer skin is a side benefit. More than one treatment may be needed. Ranchers have reported using a cornmeal poultice to cure ear mites and ear fungus problems. Others have reported that simply putting some cornmeal shoes and boots in the morning eliminates toenail fungus and athlete’s foot. Others have reported that poultices of cornmeal helped with human skin diseases.

Cornmeal only works in an organic program. When toxic chemical products are used, the effect of the cornmeal will be lost.

Additional information can be obtained from the following publications: Cornmeal – it’s not just hog feed anymore, The Peanut Farmer, May 1996. Aquaculture Engineering 9 (1990) 175-186. Cornmeal only works in an organic program. When toxic chemical products are used, the effect of the cornmeal will be lost.


New boots report from anonymous:  

  • When soaking new boots to break them in, add cornmeal to the water at about 1 cup per gallon. The result is softer leather.

Report from Kevy Rae: 
  • I want to let you know how cornmeal has helped me with a skin problem. For a couple of years I’ve been suffering with eczema on the back of my scalp. This causes severe itching, flaking, oozing and scaling of the skin. I tried literally every kind of medicated shampoo one could buy to solve the problem but could only get some very temporary relief. I did a lot of research to try to find out what I have and how to solve it for good. Most sources didn’t know the cause, but one thought it was caused by a fungal infection in the scalp’s sweat pores. Well, I remembered what you said about cornmeal on nail fungus so I thought I’d try it on my head with my shampoo. It’s a lot cheaper than the other products I’d tried, so why not? First, I put the shampoo on my head, then a palmful of regular grocery store cornmeal. I lathered it all together and made sure to rub it down to my scalp really well. It feels gritty but rinses out easily. After three days of this, my sores were drying out and barely itching. I’m getting much better results than with the expensive shampoos! It’s one week later now and my flaking is gone as well! I intend to keep this up until my scalp feels normal, then I’ll stop to see if this could be a permanent solution. Even if it’s just a better and less expensive treatment, I'll be happy. 

Feedback from Mark Jenschke: 
  • Here is what I have found that works for me regarding cornmeal. I remember my mother using cornstarch on me for underarm aroma. Second: The step-in powder box in the school gym. I know of the foot soaking suggestion but found that I don’t have the time. I sifted the cornmeal to get a real fine powder then placed some into a Tupperware covered sheet cake container. I wear work boots and my feet sweat a lot. Therefore, when I get up in the morning I stick my feet into the cornmeal box, put on my boots and go about my day knowing that my feet will soften and soak the cornmeal all day long and I’ve saved myself a lot of time. Besides, the cornmeal is working on the fungus that might be hiding in my boots all night long just waiting to hit me again. I've been doing this for the past 3-4 months and the fungus is gone and my old feet (60 years) have never been so smooth and the calluses are gone too. One drawback: I have to cut my toenails more often. These are just my observations. 

Feedback from Scott Brown:
  • I heard Howard talking on his show about the benefits of cornmeal as an antifungal agent for plants. I was intrigued, however, to hear the benefit to the individual who had been treated for leukemia. I am 30 years old and have always had the equivalent of acne on my back. My doctor had recently prescribed to me a lifetime use of antibiotics to keep the acne in check. I put two and two together and tried the cornmeal bath. When I emerged, I immediately had softer skin. Within two days, most of the acne was gone. I took one more cornmeal bath a few days later and it has all but disappeared. I’m excited to continue to learn the natural ways that God has given us to stay healthy. Thanks for the idea. I listen every time I get a chance.

Feedback from Annette Carey:
  • Experimenting with cornmeal and cold sores. After suffering for 10 days with a vicious ulcer in my mouth, I thought “I’ve got nothing to lose” and put a pinch over the sore like chewing tobacco. I expected the texture to bother, but the cornmeal was very fine, and amazingly, almost instantly the pain totally ceased. Before I went to bed I brushed and reapplied and reapplied the next morning. I’ll keep you posted. I figure the effect on the pain is similar to oatmeal in its ability to soothe irrigations, but now I want to see if the sore clears faster since the problem is viral and not fungal. It seems to adhere to the lesion. I’ll keep you posted.
Feedback from Carla McQueen: 
  • My husband listens to your show. He happened to be listening when you spoke on cornmeal and fungus. I’m insulin dependent and have had fungus under one of my big toe’s nails. I’ve had it for a few years and unable to get rid of it. It didn’t bother me much until the nail became ingrown. My doctor referred me to a podiatrist and said they would cut or remove the nail. As a diabetic, I’m reluctant to have any cuts including surgery. We do not heal very well and it takes much longer to recover. After my husband listened to your show he went out and bought cornmeal and had the “bath” waiting for me when I got home from work. We’ve been doing this for several months off and on. Eventually the fungus dissipated enough that I is nearly gone and the nail is no longer ingrown. I will not require the podiatrist or medications that cost too much. My doctor also informed me that the fungus would return. In any case, I’ll stick to what works for me. And the cornmeal works! Thank you so much. Now perhaps I can return the favor. Insulin, when applied topically, can promote healing surface “boo-boos”. I just put the last drop from my shot on the cut, burn or scratch and within days it is healed from the surface. It doesn’t promote internal healing but it helps. Report from Jerry: When I had athlete's foot, I soaked my feet in a couple of big handfuls of horticultural cornmeal and warm water. Within one day, I could see the fungus clearing up. Faster than any medicine I have ever used.

Feedback from George in Flower Mound:  
  • Acne Treatment After reading last month's DIRT article about the various cornmeal treatments, I had a thought that my 15 year old daughter, Haley, might try it for her continued problem with minor facial acne. Like many teenagers, she has been plagued with acne for a couple of years. My wife, daughter and I did some further research into other "organic" cures for acne as well. After weeks of experimenting with a paste "mask" consisting of various combinations of cornmeal, witch hazel, sugar, tea tree oil and peroxide, our daughter's acne is completely gone! Haley's friends are dying to try it, based on her results! We're trying to refine the formula before we tell anyone. It's not a pretty mask, nor does it smell that pretty, due to the tea tree oil (not a bad smell, but as my daughter says, it has a "strong motor oil smell"). And, of course, there will be different results for each individual.

Tip From Robert Willcutt: 
  • My dog Roxina, had a wet area between folds of skin on her neck. I put cornmeal on the area. The next day it was a lot drier but it still stunk. I reapplied dry cornmeal and a week later it no longer smells and seems to be completely healed.

Tip From Duke Burnett:
  • I had bumps come up on my head, like small pimples. They would turn to sores if left alone or scratched. I started rubbing cornmeal on my head when taking a shower. I stopped after about 2 weeks when I ran out of cornmeal and the bumps that had diminished came back. I began using cornmeal again, using it about twice a week. The bumps are totally under control, sometimes disappearing completely. I simply rub about a teaspoon onto my scalp, sometimes rinsing right off and sometimes leaving on while I finish showering. 

Another Cornmeal Tip/Report from Janice Weldon: 

  • Though I have never been to the doctor, other folks suffering from the same skin problem as I indicated I had dermatitis, and that frankly, there was no cure, just topical ointments that could "ease" the symptoms. One thing I have discovered, as far as I am personally involved, stress magnifies the problem and makes it much worse. Last week, I had a flare up of my dermatitis that literally kept me in the house. I refused to go outside. I had reached the point where concealers and make-up couldn't even do the trick. My problem is focused mainly around my mouth, but last week even moved to go over my upper lip, then up the sides of my nose and another spot between my eyebrows and a couple of other areas. In addition to the usual redness I had severe itching and burning. I had had enough. While some urged me to go to the doctor, I decided it was time to get out the horticultural cornmeal. Here's what I did: Put some cornmeal in old panty hose and tied off the panty hose, filled a container with tap water, set the cornmeal filled panty hose in the water to soak and left it for 1 1/2 hours. I held the poultice to my face for about 20 minutes on each of the major areas, then I proceeded to "wash" my face in the "cornmeal juice" left in the container. I repeated the process later in the evening; again only keeping the poultice on my affected areas for 20 minutes. After the first application, I felt some relief but still looked pretty bad. After the 2nd application, all the burning and itching was gone. The following morning, ALL the redness and bumps were gone! That area of my face had not been that clear in YEARS! Literally. I had every intention of repeating the application a couple of times in the past week, but have not done so. Amazingly, however, the problem has not returned. I plan to now use the cornmeal as a "preventive" product on occasion to keep this situation at bay. I truly wish I had taken pictures, because without having seen what my face looked like, it is hard to get people to understand the drastic difference - but what a difference it is. I've even been going out without make-up! Cornmeal is now my new hero product.
Tip from Dan Hands: 

  • Mix 2 parts cornmeal and 1 part petroleum jelly. Spread it on your infected toenail everyday until the infected nail is grown out and infection is gone. It takes 60 to 90 days. And much easier than soaking in water and cornmeal.

Feedback from Donavon Dartez: 

  • I wanted to let you know that I successfully treated an anthracnose ridden Sycamore with corn meal. I treated the ground around the tree once before budding (February) and again about 30 days after budding. The tree is perfectly healthy again. Meanwhile a large Sycamore on my neighbor’s property that did not receive treatment is infected and does not look like it will survive. Thanks for the tip.

Liquid corn gluten meal spray - a listener/farmer recommendation. 2014. 

  • The way we use corn gluten on our fields - we make a tea out of it and spray on the fields once a month from autumn to May. Works very well. We use 2 to 6 cups of corn gluten to 100 gallons of water and spray it on with a pull behind sprayer. We just put the corn gluten meal in panty hose and suspend it in the sprayer when we fill it up, then swish the panty hose, remove and stir. Use at about 35 gallons per acre. Simple, economical and effective.

P.S. There are critics about this great idea. Here’s a quick glimpse at one of the leading organiphobes.
Linda Chalker-Scott says:

February 20, 2012 at 12:00 am
  • Until someone publishes a controlled, repeatable experiment on the efficacy of cornmeal for any horticultural purpose, it will not be recommended as a pesticide by any reputable Extension specialist. Not only would this be highly irresponsible, it is also illegal. If you want sound, reliable information about gardens and landscapes, this blog will provide that for you; the four of us are recognized experts in our fields. If you prefer the home remedy approach to gardening, you’ll have to go to the self-proclaimed experts.
Roy says:

May 6, 2014 at 9:24 am
  • best advice is try it on a few tomato plants and see for yourself….not going to lose, cause cornmeal is a fertilizer…i choose to believe howard garret, the dirtdoctor, his advise is best on internet…he will also admit if he is wrong about something…

Linda Chalker-Scott replies:

May 6, 2014 at 9:27 am
  • You, of course, can believe what you like. But this is a science-based forum, and Howard Garrett’s advice is anything but scientific. (And cornmeal is not a fertilizer. Corn gluten meal, yes. Corn meal, no. It’s just another source of organic matter, and a heck of a lot more expensive than compost.)




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