wwoof.org*
Permies likes lawn and the farmer likes Fertilizing permies
  Search | Permaculture Wiki | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies | World Domination!
Register / Login


permies » forums » growies » lawn
Bookmark "Fertilizing" Watch "Fertilizing" New topic
Author

Fertilizing

                                  


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 99
Do you folks recommend fertilizing now? I live in the NE and I have enough Agway organic fertilizer for three applications. Should I do one more app now or just wait till spring?

Thanks in advance
Jeremy Bunag
volunteer

Joined: May 30, 2007
Posts: 231
Location: Central IL
I'm about ready to do my fall feeding.  The temps are cooler and my grass as perked up from the hot summer and is ready to dine!

If your grass is awake and ready to eat, feed it!  Especially if Org fertilizer laying around, what do you have to lose?  Unless you're smothing, or using something with a lot of available N ([sup]*I don't really know what Agway Org has in it, is it grains/meal?[/sup]), you can't really overdo it, it will just feed for longer.
                                  


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 99
Thanks,
  I will do a fall feeding. It's my understanding that late fall (November) feedings promote snow mold. Is this coprrect?
Jeremy Bunag
volunteer

Joined: May 30, 2007
Posts: 231
Location: Central IL
From what I understand (and please anyone with more understanding correct me!), the snow mold comes from the excess of N providing food for the mold.

I think that's part of the beauty of organics:  when stuff slows down and stops eating, the bio processes also stop breaking down our org fertilizer, and N stops getting made.

I could be talking out of my a$$ right now (going from memory rather than researching it again)...
                                  


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 99
Then a fall feeding it is!
steve adams


Joined: Dec 13, 2009
Posts: 5
is there a way i can make my own fertilizer out of my own compost?
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
steve adams wrote:
is there a way i can make my own fertilizer out of my own compost?


Absolutely!

Finished compost is widely regarded as the best possible fertilizer.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
Scott Reil


Joined: Jan 19, 2010
Posts: 179
Location: Colchester, CT
Sorry to be late to the party...

Couldn't agree more with Joel about compost...

Not so sure about Jeremies assertions for fall feeding...

Snow mold is indeed an active organism. While fungi does not account for vast amounts of N in a the average lawn, it does cause N release as ammonium from organic sources, including fertilizer. So N type ferts, even organic, are not a great idea; lean more into other low N types for this time of season (worm casts, compost, etc.) or just skip it. As evidenced by snow mold, cold does not denote completely dormant soil. Few things do; soil for the most part is alive...

So buddy, if the snowmold HAS popped out we can do some organic things to check it. Milk is a great low level fungicide and shows effect from 3:1 to 10:1 ratios with water (adjust to severity of issue). Corn meal is a favored food of a very common soil fungus called Trichoderma, so adding this to the soil as it warms might help check a recurrence the following year. And simply increasing biodiversity ( a favorite topic of Paul's) is ALWAYS beneficial in checking ANY soil pathogen, and adding good compost is a bonzer way to do that...

Hope this helps...

HG


Connecticut Accredited Nurseryperson
Accredited Organic Land Care Professional (NOFA)
Seth Pogue


Joined: Feb 12, 2010
Posts: 81
   1 part urine, diluted with 10-15 parts water makes grass (and any N-loving plant) grow like nothing you've ever seen - especially if there's a lot of B-vitamins/minerals  in your diet.  Has to be pumped underground so that the soil microorganisms break it down.  Don't apply directly, unless 20:1 or greater dilution, or it will of course burn leaves.
   Urine is sterile unless you have a kidney infection.  Matter of fact an old backwoodsman's trick for sterilizing a wound is to pee on it.
   What do you mean, Ugh?  Over deep time, every organic molecule in your body has been ingested, then excreted or secreted, by millions of living creatures. GAIA says: Since you can't change it, please learn to accept it. 
Scott Reil


Joined: Jan 19, 2010
Posts: 179
Location: Colchester, CT
Who says Ugh?

Urine is sterile; the natives used to use it to wash wounds...

And the ammonia content converts to nitrogen right quick, assuming a good aerobic soil biology...

Just gasses off without that...

S
                                  


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 99
I'm trying a compost tea program this year. I'll report how I do. So far the lawn looks pretty bad. Probably a combination of things.

I cut to low last year and left clumps of dying grass in the lawn which choked off the grass.
I stopped bagging the grass thereby increasing thatch
I stoped all chemicals last spring. This means no team or weed inhibitors.

My soil (dirt) is lousy to begin with and doesn't retain N for nothing. I plan to use a good organic fert (from poulty manure) while using the tea and top dressing the bad spots with compost. I use Poultry manure in my compost pile also.
I think in the fall I'll oversead/dethatch with a good tall fescue, then hit it with some fert and tea.
Scott Reil


Joined: Jan 19, 2010
Posts: 179
Location: Colchester, CT
Buddy, mostly good but a few points...

Thatch is a problem in chemical lawns; in organic lawns we call it plant food. Dethatching has another name in my book; weed planting. Scratch up that surface real good, get rid of the last covering mulch, and you will have weeds aplenty... don't do it...

Organica makes a pretty good microbial dethatcher which you will only need the once to get you back to good, but I wouldn't worry about it if you are starting tea this year. Plenty of microbes there to do the job, and dead grass is a high nitrogen food. Two birds...

Your mistakes of last year behind you, you should be fine. Observing the finer points makes some of your "mistakes" good tools this year. Cutting short is a no-no, but skipping the bagging can work out great IF you have a mulching mower (or at least put a mulching blade on your current model), If you are riding, dragging a chain loop behind you can break up those clumps and move it past the crowns, which is really the only place you went wrong. Backracking (using the back of a lawn rake) works too...

Tall Turf Type Fescues are the new darlings of the eco-lawn set nowadays with good reason; needing little water and only two pounds of nitrogen per 1k sq. ft., average rainfall and the grass you are leaving behind are about all the food and water this one needs. NICE!

Your fall timing for the overseed is great, but skip the feeding; fall feedings as the plants begin to go dormant do littel but move foods into the water supply. Only feed when vigorous growth is assured, or better yet, JUST DON'T. The biology in your tea will provide all the nutrients your turf needs if you just let them do...

S
                                  


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 99
Interesting,
So you think tea will be enough? I'm applying about 55 gallons per 1.75 acres, 2 times a month. Last week I did two feedings with it. One a bacteria dominant, one a fungal dominant. Does tea cause a nitrogen rreaction in the soil? Grass being a nitrogen pig I didn't think tea would be enough.
Let me also add that my yard is 100% sun drenched (no shade) with little tall fescue. Mostly blue grass

Lastly I don't have a mulching mower. Would bagging be better?
 
Scott Reil


Joined: Jan 19, 2010
Posts: 179
Location: Colchester, CT
Well, here's the thing...

Biology is nitrogen...

Every living thing on the planet is basically carbon and nitrogen; that's why we talk about greens (nitrogen) and browns (carbon) when we compost. The chemical crowd wnats to cut the biology out of the picture, but forgets all about the carbon, which is how we maintain soil fertility. Stupid plan...

The natural nitrogen loop is massively improved by tea, as you are adding from the most part the two kingdoms mostly responsible for nitrogen cycling in our soils; bacteria and protista (a gross simplification, but if I start to roam into Archaea and actinobacters and such this thread will be my lifes work).

Bacteria have a Carbon to Nitrogen ratio (C:N) of five to one. Protozoa have a C:N of thirty to one. Protozoa eat ten thousand bacteria a day on average. For every six bacteria they eat they "release" (nice word for pooping). In a raindrop sized amount of compost extract I have counted millions of bacteria and tens of thousands of protists. You do the math.... 

This does not even begin to cover the nematodes (C:N 100:1 and mostly bacterial feeders), or other  higher level predators eating protists. Dr. Ingham calls this the poop loop...

I bag and compost myself: I use the grass as a green a lot. It means I have to replace a lot of the nutrition and humus at other times (a compost topdress is in the cards  next year) but if thatch is a concern then that seems a good way to go until you catch the system back up. But I have seen refit blades; not quite as good as that raised deck you get with a real mulcher, but it sure helps...

S
                                  


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 99
Scott Reil wrote:

The natural nitrogen loop is massively improved by tea, as you are adding from the most part the two kingdoms mostly responsible for nitrogen cycling in our soils; bacteria and protista (a gross simplification, but if I start to roam into Archaea and actinobacters and such this thread will be my lifes work).


I understand, but with my sprayer I can only coat the leaves. Not much gets to the soil.
I try to do this right before a rain but that's unreliable. Doesn;t the tea need to drench the soil?
Scott Reil


Joined: Jan 19, 2010
Posts: 179
Location: Colchester, CT
While that is preferable, there is huge amounts of biology there and a watering afterwards to get that biology down to soil level and will do what you need.
                                  


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 99
I have irrigation so I'll be sure to water afterwards.

I'm gonna start bagging again I think. Since I stopped the weeds have gotten worse. Presumably because the deck just spreads the weed seeds rather than sucking the up/
Scott Reil


Joined: Jan 19, 2010
Posts: 179
Location: Colchester, CT
Yeah, the down side to returnig everything to a weedy lawn is you are returning everything, including the weed seed... 

S
                                  


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 99
Bagger back on, and Acetic acid (20%) in hand for the fall season. I'll shoot the weeds and overseed with a slit seeder. 100% tall fescue!
Should work out pretty well mingling with the blues and ryes
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14853
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
What does "shoot the weeds" mean?

For me:  bagging is too much work - just leave the clippings;  compost tea is too much work - if I have home made compost I might use it to fill in low spots on the lawn, or (better) on the garden.

And as long as the subject is "fertilizing" I want to say:  BY FAR the best possible fertilizer is to have deep soil.  Because when you have deep soil, you don't have to irrigate.  And when you don't have to irrigate, you aren't washing away the soil nutrients.


sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
Scott Reil


Joined: Jan 19, 2010
Posts: 179
Location: Colchester, CT
I suspect he means spot applications of acetic acid (think vinegar).

Paul, you know I'm a fan of the Lazy Lawn method, but compost tea can be very beneficial, moves the biology throughout thil profile with application, and supplies everything from biology to the humus for it to live and thrive in. Bagging can be a good method to move viable weed seed away from the lawn area, and the detritus can be good compost fixins if done right.

No it's not the least labor intensive methodology, but when you factor in returning the weed seed with the cuttings, or the lack of biology in a mitigated situation setting back the biological breakdown and therefore the natural nitrogen cycling, there are benefits to the extra effort that seem to make sense here...

S
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14853
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Scott,

I agree with everything you just said. 

In fact, I usually agree with damn near everything you say.  Further, if I see you've been active in this forum, I tend to apply my time in other spaces thinking "Scott's got it covered!"

That said, I think most folks would be pretty overwhelmed with the whole idea of compost tea.  Further, I think they will reach a state of happiness with far less effort.  I rather like the idea that folks can have the best looking lawn on the block with nothing more than setting their mower as high as it will go and a bag of ringers fertilizer.  I suppose some folks might want the sharpest, crispest lawn for a 20 block radius - and then we can talk about more advanced stuff.  Although I'll get really bored, really fast. 

I think it is really hard to talk about compost tea when folks are struggling with mower height.



                                  


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 99
Well it's really not much work at all. I make the tea in a 55 gallon container, pump it into my 55 gallon sprayer which is mounted on my tractor and operated with a PTO, then spray the lawn.  After one application the lawn looks better already!

As for bagging I'd rather bag the seeds then spread them. It takes more time to kill weeds than prevent them
Scott Reil


Joined: Jan 19, 2010
Posts: 179
Location: Colchester, CT
Paul's right, for most of the folks here the higher cut alone will lead to satisfactory results...

But for those like Buddy who want to go the extra mile, the results you can attain are the kind that shut up the morocks that say you can't do it without chemicals...

And THAT is always a sweet moment... 

S
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14853
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Scott Reil wrote:
Paul's right ...


I never get tired of hearing that. 

                                  


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 99
Sprayed all my flowers today with a bacterial dominant tea. The lawn looks really good right now

How often should I treat the lawn? IS the such a thing as too much?
Scott Reil


Joined: Jan 19, 2010
Posts: 179
Location: Colchester, CT
If your tea offers a good balnce of fungal/bacterial cultures then no, you cancan't overdo really...

The chances you have gotten the mix exactly right are slim; fungal teas are just harder because it's harder to keep the fungal side alive. So if you put down a lot of tea, you could push the bacterial side harder and that makes the soil more base which further imbalances towards the bacterial...

Once a week should be fine; try to keep the protozoa counts up to eat a heap of the bacteria and kick that poop looping. Straining through hay always jacks up the ciliates...

S
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Is it safe & to green to use Epsom Salt to fertilize your lawn? 
I know some one who swears by it.  D
Scott Reil


Joined: Jan 19, 2010
Posts: 179
Location: Colchester, CT
Hey Di...

Salts to fertilize.... there are several things wrong with that scenario...

First epsom salts a magnesium sulfate, and while both magnesium and sulfate aer necessary trace elements, the operative word is trace. as in minor players...

Without a specific soil analysis, I can't say whether that is even fertilizing or not; fertilizing denotes supplying necessary nutrient and that may or may not be the case. If both these elements are already in the soil in sufficient quantity it ain't fertilizing at all; in fact it can actually be toxifying the soil. So just dumping magenesium or sulfur onto your lawn without knowing the levels isn't really anything I would recommend...

If we are stimulating biology and adding humus with all it's mineral and elemental additions back to the soil, we will take care of most of our mineral requirements. I am not saying there are not conditions that warant mineral addition; I AM saying that without soil testing you have no freaking idea when that is...

S
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Thanks Scott,
After I read your reply I did a little research, here is what I found :

Epsom salt has become a popular and well-reputed supplement in organic gardening. With the recent push towards “green” living, Epsom salt is an ideal answer to a variety of organic gardening needs. Both cost effective and gentle on your greenery, Epsom salt is an affordable and green treatment for your well-tended plants—both indoors and out.

Completely one-of-a-kind with a chemical structure unlike any other, Epsom salt (or Magnesium Sulfate) is one of the most economic and versatile salt-like substances in the world. Throughout time, Epsom salt has been known as a wonderful garden supplement, helping to create lush grass, full roses, and healthy, vibrant greenery. It has long been considered a planter’s “secret” ingredient to a lovely, lush garden, and is such a simple, affordable way to have a dramatic impact. Just as gourmet salt works with the ingredients in food to enhance and bring a meal to its full potential, Epsom salt enhances fertilizer and soil’s capabilities to bring a deeper level of vitality to your garden’s composition. Ultra Epsom Salt is the highest quality Epsom salt available, and is widely celebrated for its powerful benefits on natural life, ranging from household plants to shrubs, lawns and even trees.
From http://www.saltworks.us



Scott Reil


Joined: Jan 19, 2010
Posts: 179
Location: Colchester, CT
Diane, did you note who put that on the web? I can find glowing reports on the health benefits of coal if I look on Massey Energy's website... 

Wile I agree that magnesium cna have soil benefits when balanced with cotrrect amounts of calcium, it is adding trace elements, not macronutrition.

Biological additions like humus are always beneficial to soil and cannot imbalance it; that risk is inherent in any mineral addition and moreso in salt additions. I use epsom, but sparingly and only when I see need. You can make as good or better argument for using sea salt as you can for epsom, but both are double edged swords best used sparingly...
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Yes Scott, I did see that, but I wanted to share it anyway because it could be articles like this that convince my friend to use it.

I hope to get time to look into this deeper

or perhaps someone here has all the facts about it & will share?

I know I could spend an afternoon researching on the web but frankly its so much more satisfying to hear it from a real person who cares. D
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
There are people who could eat a few egg yolks, and that would prevent them from going blind (cases of vitamin A deficiency). You're more likely to meet people who don't have a particularly desperate need for anything in egg yolks, and would be healthier if they ate fewer calories, so egg yolks are something they could stand to eat fewer of, all things considered.

I'm certain there have been cases where a few tablespoons of epsom salt have saved a dying lawn. More often, salts will be survivable but not very helpful.
Scott Reil


Joined: Jan 19, 2010
Posts: 179
Location: Colchester, CT
Righteously spoken, Joel...

S
 
 
subject: Fertilizing
 
Similar Threads
Newbie needs help killing Hawkweed. Help!!!
New to organic lawns
Best mower?
yellow patches in grass
compost spreading timing?
cast iron skillet 49er

more from paul wheaton's glorious empire of web junk: cast iron skillet diatomaceous earth sepp holzer raised garden beds raising chickens lawn care flea control missoula electric heaters permaculture videos permaculture books