Thread: Organic's
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Old 08-22-2003, 11:38 AM
Dchall_San_Antonio Dchall_San_Antonio is offline
LawnSite Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Posts: 330
Once again, Randy J makes a great point that hits the heart of the original poster's question. If you refuse to offer an organic alternative, you might be missing out on the upsell. I'm not exactly convinced it is an upsell or just an alternative, but it is missing out on a client(s).

The people who want organic turf are quite often Volvo driving, quiche eating, chess playing, salad eating, hairy armpitted nursing mothers, Whole Foods shopping, tree huggers. You don't have to like them or what they believe in. You don't have to believe in it yourself. But the fact is they are an economic force to recon with. If you choose to ignore them and their money, that's between you and your family. All these people want you to do is stop delivering synthetic ferts and synth-icides and start spreading organic fertilizers. And they will LOVE you for it. But don't EVER make a mistake and spray a chemical or you will be toast. If they are willing to pay for it, is that so hard?

Somewhere it has been discussed that the organic materials weigh a lot more to get the same benefit. The large scale logistics of the extra weight management for 100 clients might just be a reason to charge more for organic yard maintenance. For example if you have 100 organic clients with 1 acre each, you will need 1,000 bags (50,000 pounds) of corn meal or alfalfa to fertilize once (10 bags to the acre on average). I know a baker who uses a lot less than that and he has a mill to grind his own corn flour from whole corn kernels.

But if you are going to offer an organic alternative, you absolutely must stick with it. In order to do that, you need to know (with some authority) what to do, what products to use and not use, when, and how much. It helps to know why you're doing it so you can explain it to them if they need help. There will be times when all their neighbors will be applying some product from Home Depot and they will think you should be applying something. You need to explain to them that you are deliberately NOT applying that product (1) because it is not organic, and (2) more importantly because it is not called for in their situation (organic turf seems to take care of a lot of its own issues).

I happen to think organic turf management is completely hassle free once you know what you're doing. Application timing is rarely an issue, amounts are not critical, pre- or post-application watering is rarely an issue, smell is not an issue (once you realize that manure ALWAYS smells and you stop even thinking about it), and cost really isn't an issue (cost is about the same or less for organic). Pest and disease diagnosis is never trivial but there are only a few organic products that work well against a wide spectrum of pests, so pest management is relatively easy. Plus if you stop spraying with the -icides, the wasps will return to help you out.

Oops, I said wasps. Many people want you to poison wasps. Well, the organic people won't. They will probably already understand that wasps are the first line of defense against all caterpillars (including web worms and tomato hornworms) and spiders (including black widow and brown recluse). If you leave the wasps alone, a balance will be reached where spiders and caterpillars will live in much reduced numbers but won't be gone forever. Wasps are part of your hassle free organic offer. You might offer wasp nest relocation services (extra - by the hour).

From my year or two of surfing gardening websites and forums, I think I have learned a few things. One thing I've recognized right away in my short time here is that this is the premier site for industry professionals to learn about their business. You guys and gals have developed an excellent professional resource library for yourselves. Imagine life without this resource. Another thing I think I've learned is that there is an opportunity waiting for y'all with the ability and willingness to fulfill it. Many of you are ready to make the jump but you lack a few pieces of the organic puzzle. I'm convinced if you start helping each other to learn about organics instead of spending all your energy circling the wagons around Lesco, there will be more and more money in if for you. And when that happens, even Lesco will start selling corn meal in 1,000 pound lots. Just watch!
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