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Dchall_San_Antonio
09-12-2003, 03:14 AM
This is partially a test of my new capabilities as a moderator to see how this announcement thing works.

My name is David Hall. I'm currently retired from my career of engineering for the US Air Force. I have found that being retired takes a lot more money than I expected, so I'm seeking to reenter the workforce as soon as possible.

My interest in turf started as a kid. We had a dichondra lawn in Southern California. Dichondra is a ground cover and considered a weed in grass, but we had one nonetheless. It was a pain to keep the grass out of. That was before dichondra seed and before Grass-B-Gone products. In So Cal, everything grows, so it didn't take much to convince you that you were a gardening genius.

My first job was working for a florist. The summer after that, I started school at a landgrant college in Calif. My dorm was right across from the ornamental horticulture unit with all the greenhouses. I spent a lot of time in there wandering the entire complex. Later after graduation and marriage, my wife decided she wanted to get a second bachelor's degree in ornamental horticulture. Naturally I helped her study and tagged along on as many field trips as I could. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have this curse that allows me to remember way to many idiotic facts from my past but not from my present (old age? - no history of Alzheimer's in the family).

Flip ahead through five homes using chemical fertilizers and chem-icides and that brings me to now. When I left the Air Force I started listening to a local garden guru on the radio. He's organic and convinced me to try using corn meal under my roses to control powdery mildew. It worked great! So I tried it on everything else he said to try it on and it always worked. Then I started looking at the expensive bags of organic fertilizer and reading the ingredients. Corn meal was in almost all of them as a prime ingredient. Then I joined these Internet garden groups and learned that people all over the place were using coffee grounds, alfalfa pellets, corn meal, and other inexpensive materials as a fertilizer on their lawns and landscapes and getting excellent results. I did a ton of reading and regurgitated it many times over to folks interested in learning more.

Recently one of my readers suggested I visit Lawnsite.com to see if I could settle a discussion about some organic issue. So I barged in and tried to help. Someone else suggested this forum be started and Sean asked me to moderate. That's how we got here.

I hope to educate y'all as to how organic materials work and what to expect when you use them. Armed with this information you will be able to have intelligent conversations with clients as to how to proceed with their projects. Equally important is that you will be able to tell them why you are doing something, or not doing something to their lawn.

I plan to post a few FAQs about organic turf management as announcements so they'll be easy to find and refer to. You are welcome to print them for your own reference at home. If I say anything really stupid on the FAQ, please challenge me on it. I'm trying to be helpful, not send you off on expensive goose chases.

I'm told I'm too wordy. This message is a perfect example. I'll end it here. After all it is only a test of this part of the moderator's tool kit.

David Hall
Moderator
Lawnsite Organic Forum

yardmonkey
09-12-2003, 12:41 PM
"I'm told I'm too wordy"

Who says that? I never understand that complaint on online forums. The more info the better. If someone thinks a post is too long they don't have to read it. Or they can take their time and read it over days or weeks or months. I think its better to say as much as you can or want to on a subject rather than try to keep it short. Why put limits on knowledge and information?

You're doing a great job. I'm glad you happened to be here just in time for this. Thanks for putting in the time on it.

Grassmechanic
09-12-2003, 03:03 PM
Thanks, David. I'm sure we'll all benefit from this forum, even if we can't/don't/won't apply it to our customers. But, we can still use it on our own yards....

Ric
09-12-2003, 08:41 PM
David

If I read your "Meet The Moderator" Right.

You are a Retired Government Employee who has never worked in the Green Industry on a professional level. You are here to educate those of us who are working professionals in the Green Industry.

leadarrows
09-12-2003, 08:58 PM
It's called expanding your horizons. Try it you might like it. :)
New practices in the green industry coming from outside the green industry is not so hard to understand. You get convertible with the way your doing things and change seems like a threat or a nuisance perhaps. But change in this case might lead to a little more spare change in my pocket so..............
Be as wordy as you want I'm listening.

Dchall_San_Antonio
09-14-2003, 05:27 AM
Ric is reading it right. You never know where your next little bit of education might come from, do you :)

I'm not here to dictate organic policy to your industry. I'm here to help y'all learn what organics is all about and see if we can find a profitable way to implement it for those clients who want it. If you have no clients asking for it, and you do not intend to implement any organic methods or materials, I think you'll find this forum boring.

If you find reason to discredit any of the methods or materials I suggest, please have your references handy. I'm wide open to learning both the pros and cons of this stuff, and I'm not going to sugar coat organics. It has its problems. At the same time you will not find me bad mouthing the synthetic chemicals used in the industry. That is not the purpose of this forum at all. In fact I'm getting ready to post a FAQ about the ways in which organics cannot compete with chemicals. I believe it is important that the professionals know all sides of this stuff as clearly as I can make it. The worst thing you'll find me saying about synthetic chemicals is that some of them are harmful to the very microbes, insects, and other creepy crawlies that I believe to be important to the organic program. But I am matter-of-fact about it and not on any organic soapbox to convert all your clients against their or your will.

I don't think this applies to Ric, but if all you have to write about is stuff about organics not being the answer to life's problems, or that there organic materials that are more poisonous than chemicals under the sink, then you've missed the point of this forum. It absolutely doesn't matter whether organics makes any sense to YOU or not. What matters is that there are people willing to pay you to implement it. And you can't implement what you don't know.

As I told Sean when he asked me to moderate this forum, I feel underqualified from the industry point of view, but I do have some knowledge about organic methods and materials that many of y'all don't have. I'm here to share it and when I've shot my wad, I'll bug out. I also told him I could be equally effective as a participant and not the moderator. But here I am. If any of y'all would like to moderate, please write to me or Sean.

I think the FAQs will go a long way to imparting quite a bit of basic info. I also think there is room for improvement on the FAQs, so please don't be shy about making suggestions (I can already tell that Ric is sort of hesitant to express his opinion :) ) I've locked the FAQs down so we don't get into a urinating contest within them. I've seen that happen in Sean's announcements elsewhere. I think we can discuss possible changes in the body of the forum.

So I hope this meets with the industry approval.

Enjoy Life Ronnie
09-14-2003, 05:27 PM
David I've made a living applying chemicals for over 35 years and you are the first organic instructor I've met with an open mind and a willingness to try and understand what it's like when you serve the public.

When Billy Bob calls with roaches he expects results and if I don't deliver <B>I don't eat.</B> It's the same for termites, spiders, and rats, aphids, scorpions, snakes, bagworms, and bedbugs… Well you get the picture.

Most professional applicators are just like me. Give me a product that works and is affordable and I'll jump for joy and lead the parade.

In the mean time… Believe me, the products are changing. Chemicals are safer and more effective today than ever before. Baits replace most sprays and IPM is a standard practice.

Someday environmentally friendly products are going to replace overly used fertilizers, weed killers, and insecticides… And we will all benefit.

In the mean time I make no excuses for what I do, or the way I do it. Some insects and rodents carry disease and create misery. It's my job to protect not only the environment but also my customers and their property.

It's a job I love and I get paid to do it. Those of us in business appreicate what you are doing to help make out jobs better. Even if we don't always sound like it. Thanks.

~Ronnie

ChickensDoo
09-19-2003, 11:03 PM
David,

I think you'll do a fine job as mod here in the Organics Forum, as you seem to have the right mindset for the job.

Have been involved with the synthetic and chemical 'side' of turf care for over 25 years, and am a recent (2002) convert to the benefits of supplying organic matter to lawns and landscapes.

I am not a tree-hugging, anti-chemical activist by any means. In fact, I feel there are some really wonderful benefits to feeding the plants and energizing the soil with organic matter, while using some of the newer lower-use-rate plant protectants for IPM.

Glad the site started this forum and wish you the best as its moderator.....

backsmackwristcrack
08-01-2004, 04:39 PM
owning a modest llawn care company called orr-ganic I can really appreciate your efforts...

Avery
08-01-2004, 09:20 PM
Originally posted by Ric
David

If I read your "Meet The Moderator" Right.

You are a Retired Government Employee who has never worked in the Green Industry on a professional level. You are here to educate those of us who are working professionals in the Green Industry.

I noticed that too. New member, retired, never owned a business or worked in the industry. But is a moderator. Seems a little flaky IMO. But he is in the organic forum so I will never see how he does. I am very pro-chemical. :cool:

Best of luck to you Dchall_San_Antonio.

Island Lawn
09-24-2004, 01:21 PM
I appreciate the info

Thank you sir

Critical Care
11-26-2004, 05:07 PM
I need to catch up on some info here - didn't know that there was a new moderator aboard. Welcome David. And, retired from the Air Force, eh? I wonder if you were ever out at my ol' stomping ground of Vandenberg?

Perhaps some people feel that the definition of a moderator is "instructor", "teacher", or "Mr. Know-it-all". However, the real definition is referee, mediator, or arbitrator. As far as I know, it hasn't been in the moderator's job discription to consistantly correct people on the facts. Right?

Lawnsite adopted the slogan of Professionals Growing Together, and personally I'm glad that you're in the same boat as us and not one of the few who profess to know it all.

northmichigan
12-04-2004, 10:37 AM
i'm a landscape contractor that has been doing installs for over 20 years. i use organic technics in my landscapes whenever possible. my customers seem to apreciate organic advice in caring for the flowers and trees i plant.my big ticket jobs involve flagstone patios and boulder retaining walls that are weed prone even with 5oz. landscape fabric underneath the gravel.i burn the small weeds that come up but wonder if there is a weed control that is organic.
thank you,
mj

nocutting
05-21-2005, 01:03 PM
Howdy David, glad to meet cha!.......So what does a "Moderater" do?........regards Saxon :waving:

gardendog
07-20-2005, 04:00 PM
This is partially a test of my new capabilities as a moderator to see how this announcement thing works.

My name is David Hall. ...
Lawnsite Organic Forum

Hi David. I accidentally came across this forum and then I recognized you from another garden website. I'm so glad you are the moderator here, as I've seen your posts previously and find you to be very knowledgeable. This looks like a great forum!

Eden's Gardener
11-26-2005, 09:00 AM
Hi David - good to see a familiar name on this site. (know your handle from DD) I stumbled onto it last night looking for something. :confused: I see a lot of good info, some funny comparisons and some not so good info - but that is about as it goes in the real world, too. The back and forth sarcasm can be amusing. :laugh: I'm glad to have someone so versed and educated in organics moderating - and especially someone who doesn't have an ax to grind about it. It makes it more informational and not political or as you stated on one thread - not tit for tat - love it. As an old organic gardener, I'll be happy to help answer any threads I run across that I have the experience in. I'm new to running my own gardening biz, but not new to gardening by any means. I also run an all natural horse boarding and chicken egg production biz out of the home. (well, my eggs are free anyway) Makes for an interesting day and lots of free fertilizer! (I don't use it on my customers' property due to my lack of effort composting hot - Dalis grass is vigilant! But, I do get plenty for myself and I just look after those weeds if I do anything other than re-spread it out on the pastureland.) Glad to be here, hope to help where I can. :D

Buster57
01-09-2006, 01:38 AM
I have owned a certified organic farm and orchard since 1988. OTC certified and somewhat directed by “Amigo Bob”.-one of the toughest certification programs.
We are certified organic in all our practices including usage of equipment such as tractors, etc.
I will look forward to seeing how OTC deals with other farmers or industry related activity.
I just hope the record keeping starts to reduce itself…

americanlawn
09-28-2006, 08:29 PM
Welcome David. I'm sure you will enjoy your new position.

As far as "natural" organics -- did you eat wood chips as a kid?? Just kidding, but here we go:
Organic products come in 2 forms (natural & synthetic)

Natural organic fertilizers: 1) contain contaminants, possible disease & viral problems 2) require large amounts to get the required results 3) often a foul smell

Synthetic organics: 1) no contaminates 2) require small amounts to give needed results 3) designed for safety around people, pets, & wildlife.

Facts: Very few successful lawn companies us "natural" organics.

Our lawn care program was developed by our land-grant university, and NO natural organic products were included.
We have two "natural" lawn care companies in my area -- guess what post emergent herbicide they both use??? Hint: It ain't organic.

I see homeowners who "use organics" to maintain their lawns -- most are weedy and turf density is thin. (creeping Charlie is often present in these lawns too).

My lawn company services about 3100 lawns, and we prefer to utilize the latest/most advanced products in the industry.

That's my two cents. By the way, I started with ChemLawn in 1978 (Dallas), then worked in San Antonio from 1981 - 1985. Many of my customers were retired USAF officers. I love SA, and I'd still live there except I got divorsed and moved back to Iowa where my family is.

Thanks David, American Lawn Care, Des Moines.

Grassmechanic
10-01-2006, 12:46 PM
Ahhhh, nothing like digging up an old thread. I haven't seen Dchall (David) post in many months. Me thinks he has moved on.

stumper1620
10-01-2006, 01:30 PM
Ahhhh, nothing like digging up an old thread. I haven't seen Dchall (David) post in many months. Me thinks he has moved on.
Americanlawn has been resurrecting old post from the pesticide forum all week. Nothing like reading 6 month or older threads.:laugh: :laugh:

dishboy
10-01-2006, 08:11 PM
[QUOTE=americanlawn]Welcome David. I'm sure you will enjoy your new position.

Organic products come in 2 forms (natural & synthetic)

Natural organic fertilizers: 1) contain contaminants, possible disease & viral problems 2) require large amounts to get the required results"


Pretty broad statement, maybe you could provide specific data and documentation. Not all organic programs are alike.

" 3) designed for safety around people, pets, & wildlife."

Tell that to the families with Premature children born in farming communities in eastern Idaho from nitrates.

"Facts: Very few successful lawn companies us "natural" organics."

Very few LCO's want the higher overhead.


"I see homeowners who "use organics" to maintain their lawns -- most are weedy and turf density is thin. (creeping Charlie is often present in these lawns too)."

This proves nothing, about as valid as saying very few chemlawn lawns are not thatch prone.

NattyLawn
10-02-2006, 09:01 PM
[QUOTE=americanlawn]Welcome David. I'm sure you will enjoy your new position.

Organic products come in 2 forms (natural & synthetic)

Natural organic fertilizers: 1) contain contaminants, possible disease & viral problems 2) require large amounts to get the required results"


Pretty broad statement, maybe you could provide specific data and documentation. Not all organic programs are alike.

" 3) designed for safety around people, pets, & wildlife."

Tell that to the families with Premature children born in farming communities in eastern Idaho from nitrates.

"Facts: Very few successful lawn companies us "natural" organics."

Very few LCO's want the higher overhead.


"I see homeowners who "use organics" to maintain their lawns -- most are weedy and turf density is thin. (creeping Charlie is often present in these lawns too)."

This proves nothing, about as valid as saying very few chemlawn lawns are not thatch prone.


Good luck getting a response from americanlawn. He pops in, digs up old threads, makes some posts and comes back a few weeks later and does the same thing. Most are his "opinion" and from stuff I've read, are not based on any type of fact.

d.macpeak
04-28-2007, 06:54 PM
I am looking for a four service organic program for my new company launching in March 2008. I would be grateful for a sugested 4 service program with application rates if anyone has an effective one.
thanks in advance

MoDoesMower
05-05-2007, 02:11 AM
Hey d could you please define what a four service program is? Anyway, we've been taking care of a homeowners association complex that went primarily (90%) organic 3 years ago. We use Simplots organic blends( they have at least three) of fertilizer that stay relatively non-clumping applied at 10# per 1000sq.ft. Works great when paired with aeration. We also use fine granulated ferrous sulfate for a quick green-up. Neem is an interesting insect-,fungi-,miticide. Best when used in the seventies. For an organic non-selective herbicide Burn-Out II by San Gabrial Labratories works great when the weeds are sprayed young.....a combo of industrial vinegar, clove oil and some other things- literally burns the foliage needs temps of 65 degrees and higher so in the winter we use a propane weed burner- Fire Good... Hope this helps. Mo

Buster57
05-05-2007, 12:36 PM
To be truely organic you have to be organic certified. This means that all your materials have to be OMRI approved.
I will have to check with my wife-she is an expert and has been dealing with everyone from Oregon Tilth to various universities for about 20 years. We have been certified organic since 1989.
(I just drive the tractor and use all the cool equipment.....)
If you have questions please be as specefic as possible and I will try to get you either an answer or the place to fine one.

Buster57
05-05-2007, 11:54 PM
To be truely organic you have to be organic certified. This means that all your materials have to be OMRI approved.
I will have to check with my wife-she is an expert and has been dealing with everyone from Oregon Tilth to various universities for about 20 years. We have been certified organic since 1989.
(I just drive the tractor and use all the cool equipment.....)
If you have questions please be as specefic as possible and I will try to get you either an answer or the place to fine one.

I did not know this was a general broadcast message-but regardless, if I can help let me know.

Laketreefarm
08-06-2007, 10:11 AM
David, Hang in there. Thinking outside the "chemical box" that the landscape industry has been brainwashed (advertised) to belive in is the only way to become organic. We are a USDA Certified Organic tree farm/landscpape company and it's possible to grow almost anything with no chemicals. That said some solutions are elusive and some problems overwhelming. By specializing in Organics any Green industry biz is setting themselves apart from all the other daily chemical operations. That's good biz. product niche=higher income with no competition. People have been telling me for years you can't grow landscaping without chemicals. I laugh all the way to the bank and sleep better at night knowing that my clients, kids and pets are safer with my organic management plan for their homes.

Courtesy
08-11-2007, 09:25 PM
I've been running non-chemical naturals for over a year on a select few customers and their lawns look better than chemical lawns. I also implement a new watering program and cutting program. All my other lawns are non-chemical and all natural with no fertilizers at all, just mulching the grass back into the yard. I have been doing this for over 5 years now and my lawns are healthy. I have over 50 accounts and take care of them myself. I am currently transitioning to just chemical free fertilization and will probably phase out my customers who do not wish to pay for that service, therefore only maintaining my all in one customers. I know that if you do it right you can avoid all those possibly harmful chemicals. I refuse to use chemicals, especially when they are not necessary.

Smallaxe
08-12-2007, 11:32 AM
I've been running non-chemical naturals for over a year on a select few customers and their lawns look better than chemical lawns. I also implement a new watering program and cutting program..

What is your watering and cutting program? Is it different for different lawns?

Courtesy
08-12-2007, 03:27 PM
Yes, I check the soil every visit and depending on the amount of water measured and the current climate I will adjust the watering schedule. That allows for deep root growth and healthy plants. I never worry about thatch either. The good soil and microbes take care of that. Also the correct watering does not allow thatch to be a problem because it does not stay wet all the time. Therefore it does not cause the lack of air exchange.

Smallaxe
08-13-2007, 09:27 AM
Very good approach. Very professional.
Like a doctor you analyse and make a diagnosis, based on what the patient is going through. Too much of our current programs is give every lawn an antibiotic, prescribe some therapy then take an asprin and call me in the morning.
What do you use to check water penetration and retention?

Courtesy
08-13-2007, 11:50 PM
You can get away with a very inexpensive moisture tester like a Rapitest meter or you can spend a little more money if you have it available. The main thing is to make sure it has a probe so you can measure at different depths. Also you might consider getting a core sampler tool so you can look at the composition of the soil also. This is just so you can keep tabs on how much organic matter is being formed. It's just for monitoring for yourself. Lets you know how you are doing and the state and progress of the lawn. Most lawns fix themselves if you just treat them correctly.

Smallaxe
08-14-2007, 10:52 AM
I've used a spade to look at soil profile but it is difficult in the area I'm trying rebuild now. Lots of tree roots etc. I will have to see about a core sampler.
I agree that most problems do fix themselves. We finally got a decent rain so I will check how well it percolated through a few problem areas this morning.
We'll start overseeding now to get germination before the pine needles fall, so this ground needs to be ready to go.
Thanks for the tip.

Courtesy
08-14-2007, 05:52 PM
I would recommend a core sampler. It's easier to get a good sample without tearing up so much turf.

Smallaxe
08-15-2007, 10:06 AM
It just opens up the ground in a straight line enough to get my hand into and a possible visual; then just pressed right back into place. a core sampler would definately be better. Yesterday I missed the tree roots with the spade, but hit a layer of stones in the sand. A little more than one inch of good soil with grassroots extending into the sand for a total of 2-2 1/2 inches total length. The sand was holding some moisture so the topsoil is percolating ok.
When I get time I will have to see if any place has the samplers.

Smallaxe
08-29-2007, 08:41 PM
I would recommend a core sampler. It's easier to get a good sample without tearing up so much turf.

We don't have any core samplers, per se, in our area so I picked up one of those 2 hole core aerators that is operated with a heavy foot.
Very surprised as to how easily it went into the ground and the quality of the core it brought up. The top of today's core was about 3/4" of dark black clump that I was able to transport home.
Busted it up in my hand, under magnification, and it seems to be just compacted soil.
Have you ever disectted what you believed to be thatch? I am expecting to find matted fibrous material in some of these lawns?
Curious as to what your experiences have been.

Courtesy
08-29-2007, 11:43 PM
I don't know what type of soil you have in your area, but it sounds like that 3/4" layer is fertile soil that has already or is being broken down. Here in my area we have a lot of clay and sand. Thatch is rarely a problem if you are watering correctly and mulching it up fine enough with your mower. Most of my yards are so thick that I have to go over them a couple of times to mulch a second time, then I will go over the left over with the chute partially open to disperse the finely mulched grass. I am currently running anywhere from 1/4" to 1/2" thatch, but again that is in an extremely fast growing season with lots of rain. It really doesn't pose a problem unless it stays wet all the time. Make sure the watering schedule is "green" friendly. If you are not using chemicals and the microbes are active, usually the thatch will be less than 1/4". This is actual grass clippings that are on top of the soil. If the lawn is just being converted and the microbes are not doing the job, you can find different products out there that will help to speed up the breakdown of thatch. Hope this helps.

schooldirt
01-08-2008, 12:59 PM
We don't have any core samplers, per se, in our area so I picked up one of those 2 hole core aerators that is operated with a heavy foot.
Very surprised as to how easily it went into the ground and the quality of the core it brought up. The top of today's core was about 3/4" of dark black clump that I was able to transport home.
Busted it up in my hand, under magnification, and it seems to be just compacted soil.
Have you ever disectted what you believed to be thatch? I am expecting to find matted fibrous material in some of these lawns?
Curious as to what your experiences have been.
A 2 hole aerator operated with a heavy foot? Where do you find one? I saw one on E-Bay six months ago and haven't been able to find one since. Thanks!

Kiril
01-08-2008, 03:25 PM
A 2 hole aerator operated with a heavy foot? Where do you find one? I saw one on E-Bay six months ago and haven't been able to find one since. Thanks!

A spike aerator (only useful in specific circumstances) :
http://www.cleanairgardening.com/laaeto.html

And a core aerator (preferred in heavy soils):
http://www.absolutehome.com/home/1/574072414-yard-butler-core-aerator-d6c.html

schooldirt
01-10-2008, 08:10 AM
Thanks for the quick response. We've had a week of above 50 degree weather in January. The first grade playground has some bald patches and I am off to try an aerator before the ground freezes. Thanks!

k911lowe
05-16-2008, 11:39 AM
since when did the lawn services become involved in pest control.snakes yes,aphids,mites and spider mites yes but are we in the pest control business or the lawn business.

DeepGreenLawn
05-16-2008, 11:58 AM
weeds are considered pests, and then you also have moles, grubs, ants, worms and caterpillars, the list goes on and on. All of which effect the turf.

k911lowe
05-16-2008, 03:06 PM
sounds like BS to me.i have handled all of those and never needed a license.things are probably different in Az.

DeepGreenLawn
05-16-2008, 03:21 PM
Are you talking about a business or just for your own personal use? To apply any pesticides for hire, weed killer included, then you have to have a pesticide applicators license in every state as far as I know. Here in GA you also have to have a Commercial Applicators license. It may be BS but it is the law.