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Have you ever proceeded into a project, only to be conquered by frustration?

I generally avoid synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. I like to use methods and products that support the health of the whole eco system. I want any animal or child to be safe to play on the grass. Did you know that 1 in 3 dogs will come down with cancer? We gardeners often are concerned about protecting our plants from dogs and other critters, but instead it is more likely that our domestic pets or desirable wildlife such as birds, butterflies and bees will be harmed by chemicals we use on plants in our gardens.

For years I have used an organic weed and feed type fertilizer, whose primary ingredient is corn gluten. I applied it to the lawn with a drop spreader twice a year, and I have been happy with the results. 

Nevertheless, it was not available locally, so I had to pay a high shipping fee on top of the cost of the product. This year I determined to buy a local alternative. It was easy to find a good organic fertilizer, but the pre-emergent was harder. Finally I located a corn gluten product designed to be applied with a hose end sprayer. That seemed easy, and it was on sale! I bought a couple of bottles.

I had been happily applying the product for about fifteen minutes when I realized it was not being sucked up by the delivery system. I put the bottle down and went to turn the hose off so I could investigate the problem.

This outside faucet is original to my old house, and when I turned the faucet handle to shut it off, the thing exploded. I gasped as water hit me full in the face, and then I stood in shock under the geyser spraying out into the yard. 

Husbands are good for this sort of emergency. Lou shut off the water to the house, then was able to cap off the broken faucet. It was late in the day and I was soaked, so I decided to wait till the next morning to finish the corn gluten application.

A new day. It was gorgeous! I made a mental list of things to accomplish in the garden, beginning with a few minutes to apply the corn gluten. I attached the hose to another faucet and began the process. I soon realized the delivery problem from the evening before had not magically fixed itself. The product had apparently congealed in the bottom of the bottle while sitting on the shelf. Lou dumped it out into another container and vigorously stirred it until it appeared normal. He put it back in the hose end sprayer, and problem solved. We thought.

Four hours later I was in a nasty mood, and Lou and I were snarling at each other. I was still trying to apply the corn gluten, which refused to stay in solution, no matter how much shaking or stirring. I had abandoned the sprayer that came with it and used my own sprayer, which also clogged quickly but at least I could clean it. Lou kept telling me to just dump the stuff out. Finally, I gave up. 

There was still a lot of it in the bucket that Lou had used for stirring. I picked the container up with the intent to toss its contents on a group of weeds out front. I was walking across the patio when the handle to the bucket broke, and the whole mess of orange gritty corn gluten solution splashed over me and into my shoes, then spread across the patio.

After the fact, I checked reviews online about my particular corn gluten product. Every single review mentioned a problem with the delivery system. I read the same frustration I had experienced. How many folks who try this product will go back to artificial chemicals? Next time I will pay the shipping costs for my previous organic weed and feed, if I can't find a good local alternative. 

Later, I sat on the arbor swing as I sipped a cup of coffee and listened to the birds. I felt the stress leaving my body. It was, in fact, a gorgeous day.  

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Reader Comments (20)

Oh, Deb - it seems to go that way so often! I'm sorry you had such a hard time, but glad you were still able to enjoy the beauty of the day. xo

Yikes Deb, I can so relate to your experience! Something similar happened to me when I tried to apply fish emulsion to my roses with a special nossle that I bought for that purpose. It didn't work and clogged all the time. At the end I simply gave up. I didn't have to throw the fish emulsion away though, I still can apply it with a watering can, but not in the amounts the roses would need. For now I don't feed my roses in the ground with fish emulsion anymore. In my case I suspect that our water pressure is not high enough to spray the fish emulsion or I have to dilute it more or the sprayer was not the right one for this product, even though it was sold in a nursery to me for exactly that purpose.
Of course, your case is different in the sense that the product simply seems unsuitable to be sprayed in general. So it should not be marketed as such.
Nonetheless, I am glad that at the end of the day you found your equanimity back!
Warm regards,

March 6, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterchristina

My goodness, how frustrating! I would most definitely complain to the company who makes this product. You may not get immediate satisfaction, but perhaps future consumers will be saved the trouble once a new delivery method is discovered. But enjoy your spring despite it all!

March 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

I tried I spray-on fish fertilizer once on the lawn. I was not pleased with the process or the outcome.

Sorry to hear of your ordeal!

It could have been worse -- At least your faucet exploded *outside* your house!

Enjoy your daffodils and thanks for sharing them virtually with the rest of us :-D

March 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAaron Dalton

It's too bad that natural products get short shrift in local garden centers. Sadly, garden center personnel also seem fast to recommend the toxic products that dominate the shelves. Maybe we all need to push our local retailers to stock more non-toxic products and educate themselves on using them so they can provide better guidance (unless they really want us to shift all our purchasing on-line). I'm glad your beautiful garden was there to offer comfort in the face of your frustration.

March 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

How frustrating! Never mind for now, lessons learnt and with so much beauty surrounding you to make up for the earlier frustrations :)

March 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

What beautiful photos to go with such a frustrating event. Sorry you experienced so much trouble with the product. Obviously it was not tested for delivery.

March 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Hi Deb, how terribly frustrating. Thank goodness you have a beautiful garden to relax and de-stress.
Beautiful photographs, have a great week.

March 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Oh Deb! How frustrating for you. I hate it when you try to do the right thing and then it just ends up being a nightmare, and you are right - How many other people would have just given up at this stage and gone right back to chemicals? Well I say - good for you for doing the right thing. Who knows what that yucky stuff they put onto our lawns and gardens is doing long term.
Your flowers are absolutely beautiful as are the photos of all your beautiful wildlife.
- Kate xx

March 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

put a consumer report on thier Facebook page?

Sounds infuriating!

March 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

I don't blame you at all for getting frustrated. For myself I tend to get frustrated and grouchy much too easily when things go wrong. It's unfortunate that there are so many garden products out there that really don't deliver on their promises.

March 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJason

I've had days like that. After a while, you just after consider it a great cosmic joke on you and laugh. I would find it hard to stay grumpy long in the presence of those cheerful daffodils. :-)

March 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Oh dear. Sounds cold, messy, wet and frustrating. Hope you are feeling dry and more relaxed again now.

March 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJanet/Plantaliscious

Oh wow that is frustrating but a good lesson for us all.

March 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

I would have been frustrated, too. How lazy of the company to create a crappy product. But it's even more frustrating when your fave products disappear from local shelves.

March 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

Glad there was a happy ending to this series of frustrating experiences!

March 14, 2016 | Unregistered Commentercatmint

Sigh, sometimes a sale is not a sale. Your daffodils are pretty.

March 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

You and Lou sound like me and Gene on a super hot day. (Tempers flare when the brain is literally frying.) I can all too well imagine getting hit in the face with the stream of the hose because it has happened to me too, multiple times.

Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous!

March 25, 2016 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

Oh gosh, what an ordeal! I'm glad that you were able to finally enjoy the day. I've given up on lawn and simply mow what grows. I hand dig dandelions but am encouraging clover and violets to take over because they look great with no irrigation during our dry summer months.

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeter/Outlaw

That photo of the bee on the lavandar-colored flowers is MAGNIFICENT!

April 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

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