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Kevin1
12-18-2008, 11:20 PM
Well...this is my second year in business using a synthetic 5 step fertilizer program. I have been using a liquid program by putting down 3.72%N and
.78% soluble potash on all five apps. Its the bare minimum that I want to put down for my program, but I'm currently at or above 80% of competitors for the quality of the lawns. I have used organics in the past with poor results (corn gluten meal and kelp meal) before I started my business. I will say that they did work, but the cost was ridiculous! Its probably a bad time to start a semi-organic program with the economy, but I want to go 100% or not at all! I have been considering using a synthetic R1 and ICT(Instant compost tea) on R2-R5. Will that work in my area? I stress using IPM on all of my properties so thats one reason I want to get more into organics. The other reason is that only a couple competitors in a 30 mile radius offers organics. I know the program works OK that I have now, but not sure on turning it over to 100% organic and not have the same results. I can't afford to piss off the majority of my clients. Has anyone had success using a semi-organic or organic program in the mid-west? Has it been feasible? I do NOT target high end residential. I am looking for some help on starting a program. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks, Kevin

Kiril
12-18-2008, 11:28 PM
The Beginning And The End ............. COMPOST.

NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC
12-19-2008, 12:51 AM
The Beginning And The End ............. COMPOST.

I'd truly love to see some before & after pictures of some lawns where Compost Only was spread out.
I just don't see how compost only will make a lush, thick, green lawn?
Unless the NPK ratings are equivalent to standard fertilizers?

NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC
12-19-2008, 01:10 AM
I found this section from an article about compost topdressing:

With respect to fertilization, the application of only one layer of compost fulfills between 50 and 100 percent of the annual fertilizing needs of your lawn. Compost is the only slow releasing soil amendment containing all of the necessary nutrients to maintain balanced levels of :

* Macro-elements : nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium
* Micro-elements : iron, sulphur, manganese
* Oligo-elements : copper, boron

Kinda interesting, but I guess it solely depends on the compost & its source!

Do you think there's a certain time of year or temperature that's best suited for compost topdressing?

JDUtah
12-19-2008, 01:12 AM
Compost usually does not provide "balanced" nutrients IMHO...

You used the keyword... depends...

It depends on the compost inputs, compost maturity, and needs of the soil...

Kiril
12-19-2008, 01:13 AM
I'd truly love to see some before & after pictures of some lawns where Compost Only was spread out.
I just don't see how compost only will make a lush, thick, green lawn?
Unless the NPK ratings are equivalent to standard fertilizers?

This lawn has been essentially maintained with compost only for many years.

http://www.lawnsite.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=120115&d=1221572090

oh, and what it looks like prior to composting (about 2 weeks ago).

JDUtah
12-19-2008, 01:15 AM
Kiril,
Did the preceding years have alfalfa, or any other non-compost, inputs?

NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC
12-19-2008, 01:18 AM
Compost usually does not provide "balanced" nutrients IMHO...

You used the keyword... depends...

It depends on the compost inputs, compost maturity, and needs of the soil...

If I purchased compost from a local landscape supply yard, would they be required to provide me the chemical breakdown or soil sample results upon request, or would that be something I would need to do on my own? This particular site states the PH is 7.8 and screened to 3/4" minus, is this suitable?

Kiril
12-19-2008, 01:21 AM
Kiril,
Did the preceding years have alfalfa, or any other non-compost, inputs?

Not really. Only use whatever ferts are laying around extra, and for this particular lawn, the amount of ferts that have gone on it over the past 10 years is probably equivalent to 1-2 years of your standard 5-step program. Beyond that, and the left over alfalfa (big ass pellets) earlier this year, nothing but compost.

I will point out here that the success of a compost only solution will depend largely on the type of soil you have.
In short, just because I can do it with my soils does not mean you can do it with yours.

NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC
12-19-2008, 01:21 AM
This lawn has been essentially maintained with compost only for many years.

oh, and what it looks like prior to composting (about 2 weeks ago).

You composted it 2 weeks ago? Oh yeah, I see your in Zone 9 CA, must be nice, we had snow here today in Southern Oregon, LOL!

Kiril
12-19-2008, 01:29 AM
You composted it 2 weeks ago? Oh yeah, I see your in Zone 9 CA, must be nice, we had snow here today in Southern Oregon, LOL!

Compost and seeded last week ... probably a little late for the seed ... especially given we dipped below freezing last night. Good test to see how much seed I can get to germinate at soils temps around 53 degrees. This year was about a month later than I normally do it, little behind.

growingdeeprootsorganicly
12-19-2008, 01:48 AM
kiril,

what kind of grass is that?

Kiril
12-19-2008, 01:57 AM
many different varieties of fescue

JDUtah
12-19-2008, 01:57 AM
If I purchased compost from a local landscape supply yard, would they be required to provide me the chemical breakdown or soil sample results upon request, or would that be something I would need to do on my own? This particular site states the PH is 7.8 and screened to 3/4" minus, is this suitable?

They should provide it, and it should contain a heavy metal test too. If you can, screen the compost a little more, 3/4" screening leads to an unsightly finish.

JDUtah
12-19-2008, 02:01 AM
Good job Kiril

Smallaxe
12-19-2008, 10:56 AM
I have one patch of lawn that was seeded over and area that was previously rotten granite on sand. Of course nothing grew very well at all.
So I dumped on a few bags of compost, worked it in, seeded and continue to add more compost annually with a little Milorganite and the client is astonished with the results.

I have found that the springtime you should not fertilize because it produces thatch, doesn't allow the roots to grow into the ground and is totally unnecessary. If I were you I would start there on a few lawns and compost at the beginning of the season and Milorganite in late spring and perhaps in summer if not too hot. *[only if you are not overwatering] IF you see the lawn start to fade you can always throw down some urea.

*Do not even bother trying to reconcile an organic program with a lawn that is never allowed to properly dry out. Unless you become expert of course. :)

NattyLawn
12-19-2008, 11:00 AM
Compost usually does not provide "balanced" nutrients IMHO...

You used the keyword... depends...

It depends on the compost inputs, compost maturity, and needs of the soil...

I would agree with this statement.

Kevin1
12-22-2008, 10:38 PM
Will a semi-organic program work???

Smallaxe
12-22-2008, 11:38 PM
Will a semi-organic program work???

Better than straight synthetic, if, you can irrigate sensibly. :)

ICT Bill
12-23-2008, 11:19 AM
Will a semi-organic program work???

If you are providing the soil with good to great finished compost or other organic matter inputs (humate, alfalfa, soy, etc) you can cut way back on your fertilizer inputs, so the answer is yes. You just need to feed the soil