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Fledgling Organic program outline

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by GlorifiedLawnBoy, Feb 10, 2004.

  1. GlorifiedLawnBoy

    GlorifiedLawnBoy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 37

    The following is an outline for a program we are considering for this year. We have conducted some research but it is all theory at this point. We would like some feed back on whether this is a viable base to work from. Some of our concerns are of the price of Corn Gluten Meal and its method of application. Also we would like to know of any options we should be aware of that we haven't considered. This program is to be totally synthetic free. We expect this program to be expensive and time consuming and we will charge accordingly.
    We are in Maryland and expect the Early Spring to start either the last week of March or up to the third week of April.
    This post is not intended to invite debate of the merits or lack there of a totally organic program versus other lawncare programs.
    If you have any idea's of what you would charge for the program based on a 5,000 sq. ft. lawn with mowing @ $25 per cut I would be interested. Our normal lawncare program including aeration + seed with mowing for a year is about $1280.
    Thank you in advance for any helpful posts.

    First Year Organic Program

    Established Lawn

    Early Spring
    Week One
    Mow @ 2"
    Apply 7# Corn Gluten Meal per 1000 sq. ft.
    Week Two
    Mow @ 2.5"
    Apply 7# Corn Gluten Meal per 1000 sq. ft.
    Week Three
    Mow @ 3"
    Apply 7# Corn Gluten Meal per 1000 sq. ft.
    Week Four
    Mow @ 3.5"
    Weed - Flame, Pull, or Horticulture Vinegar/Orange Oil
    Spot Seed with Compost/Topsoil Mix
    Spray Compost Tea (if needed) - Additional Charge

    Late Spring
    Mow @ 4"
    Aeration (if needed) - Additional Charge
    Spray Nematodes (if grubs) - Additional Charge
    Weed - Flame, Pull, or Horticulture Vinegar/Orange Oil
    Spot Seed with Compost/Topsoil Mix

    Summer
    Mow As Needed @ 4"
    Weed - Flame, Pull, or Horticulture Vinegar/Orange Oil
    Apply Sustane's 5-2-4 with out Iron
    Spot Seed with Compost/Topsoil Mix
    Spot apply Corn Meal on any disease

    Early Fall
    Mow Weekly @ 4"
    Aeration and Over seeding
    Apply 7# Corn Meal
    Weed - Flame, Pull, or Horticulture Vinegar/Orange Oil

    Late Fall
    Mow as Needed @ 3.5"
    Week One
    Apply 7# of Corn Gluten Meal
    Weed - Flame, Pull, or Horticulture Vinegar/Orange Oil
    Week Two
    Apply 7# of Corn Gluten Meal
    Weed - Flame, Pull, or Horticulture Vinegar/Orange Oil
    Week Three
    Apply 7# of Corn Gluten Meal
    Weed - Flame, Pull, or Horticulture Vinegar/Orange Oil

    Lawn In Need of Help

    Early Spring
    Week One
    Mow @ 2"
    Apply 7# Alfalfa Pellets
    Apply Lime (if needed) - Additional Charge
    Week Two
    Mow @ 2.5"
    Apply 7# Alfalfa Pellets
    Weed - Flame, Pull, or Horticulture Vinegar/Orange Oil
    Week Three
    Mow @ 3"
    Apply 7# Alfalfa Pellets
    Weed - Flame, Pull, or Horticulture Vinegar/Orange Oil
    Week Four
    Mow @ 3.5"
    Weed - Flame, Pull, or Horticulture Vinegar/Orange Oil
    Spray Compost Tea - Additional Charge

    Late Spring
    Mow @ 4"
    Aeration and Seed
    Spray Nematodes (if grubs) - Additional Charge
    Weed - Flame, Pull, or Horticulture Vinegar/Orange Oil

    Summer
    Mow As Needed @ 4"
    Weed - Flame, Pull, or Horticulture Vinegar/Orange Oil
    Apply Sustane's 5-2-4 with out Iron
    Spot Seed with Compost/Topsoil Mix
    Spot apply Corn Meal on any disease

    Early Fall
    Mow Weekly @ 4"
    Aeration and Over seeding
    Apply 7# Corn Meal
    Weed - Flame, Pull, or Horticulture Vinegar/Orange Oil

    Late Fall
    Mow as Needed @ 3.5"
    Week One
    Apply 7# of Corn Gluten Meal
    Weed - Flame, Pull, or Horticulture Vinegar/Orange Oil
    Week Two
    Apply 7# of Corn Gluten Meal
    Weed - Flame, Pull, or Horticulture Vinegar/Orange Oil
    Week Three
    Apply 7# of Corn Gluten Meal
    Weed - Flame, Pull, or Horticulture Vinegar/Orange Oil
     
  2. DUSTYCEDAR

    DUSTYCEDAR LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Posts: 5,137

    looks like u have a good plan but will it be affordable to most or only high end clients
     
  3. What is the anylsis of corn gulten meal?

    How much N will you apply per season?

    If corn gulten meal prevents crab and goose grass from germinating, what is it going to do to overseed grass seed?

    Where is the potash?

    Program to totaly omit sythetic fertilizer, so you are using only organic fertilizer, something that once was living!

    5-2-4 sustane contains sulfate of potash, not a organic, something that once was living!
     
  4. GlorifiedLawnBoy

    GlorifiedLawnBoy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 37

    TimTurf, Potash is a naturally occurring mineral essential for both plant and animal life. It binds to other substances such as sulfur hence sulfate of potash. Organic does not exclude naturally occurring substances nor do minerals equate with synthetic. The addition of Sustain may not even be necessary in the Summer if soil tests indicate that the proper nutrients are available to the lawn. It is a vehicle to provide small doses of P and K should the lawn require it. Corn Gluten Meal has been tauted as being the following 10-0-0 all slow release.
    However it should not be viewed in the same manner as a synthetic 10-0-0 as it is only made available to the turf by the active microorganisms in the turf. And the Organisms will not make it available to the turf unless the turf provides sugars to the micro organisms in exchange for the nitrogen. In essence the nitrogen potential of the corn gluten meal is locked away in the corn gluten until it is paid for in sugar currency by the plants which will only pay for what they need and use.
    It is true that the corn gluten meal will interfere with new plant germination and our efforts to spot seed may well be in vain. It is our theory that we may be able to add a mixture of compost, topdressing, alfalfa and seed to the areas to be spot seeded in hopes to at least balance out the total effect of the corn gluten meal. We are not sure this will work but we intend to try.
    ****I would like to reiterate that this post was not an attempt to promote an organic approach to lawn care nor to invite debate as to its merits or lack there of.****
    Positive feedback and solutions to potential problems are welcome.
     
  5. GlorifiedLawnBoy

    GlorifiedLawnBoy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 37

    DustyCedar, I believe this program will be available to only those who are adamant about an organic synthetic free program. They will have to pay for it. We do offer a pesticide free program and some organic products in our regular lawncare service but we do use synthetics as needed. I lean more toward a bridge between organics and synthetics using a true IPM approach in their applications. I really like milorganite we alternated applications with chicken manure on our golf course greens and approaches.
     
  6. DUSTYCEDAR

    DUSTYCEDAR LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Posts: 5,137

    i hope it all works out
    i have tried alfalfa pellets and they seem to break down rather fast and seem to work rather well as cover for new seed
    let me know how the program works out for ya
     
  7. G lawnboy,

    2.1lbs of n per 1000 is too much spring nitrogen
    another 2.8 lbs of N per 1000 in fall

    How much n, p, k from 5-2-4 sustane is unknow since application rate not given

    Appears your program doesn't provide enough p and k!!!!!! Maybe none if you omit the sustane summer application!!!

    A lot of people consider something an organic only if it comes from something once living!!!!

    Yes, something that is mined and not altered by man is considered a natural product!

    AND YES, the OMRI, organic material review institute, does give 5-2-4 from sustane the stamp of approval, even though it contains sulfate of potash, ( not an organic), feather meal, and turkey litter!

    This forum as never definned organic fertilizer, or a natural fertilizer!!!

    A lot of fertilizer products mined are altered by man, usually to make them more readily available!!!!

    In closing, I usually would accept sulphate of potash in a natural organic fertilizer program.
     
  8. GlorifiedLawnBoy

    GlorifiedLawnBoy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 37

    TimTurf,
    We found a local distributer for an number of products including sulfur of potash 0-0-50. We know it seems our nitrogen application seems high for spring but we are using a product called weed ban which consists of 100% Organically grown corn gluten meal that when applied at 20 lbs per thousand acts as a pre-emergent. The grasses will have to handle the excess availability of nitrogen and we are prepared to cut as part of the program. Also the release of the nitrogen occurs over a three week time period and we are prepared to not feed in late spring or summer. If we have to cut down in the spring we will to a total of 18 pounds. but not until the second year if we can not handle the growth or the lawn seems to be adversely affected.

    It is my understanding that the 10-0-0 notation to denote the amount of n-p-k of corn gluten meal is only a potential representation. It has been suggested that it can reach as high as 15-0-0 if there is a demand by the plants for that large an amount - or as low as 5 if there is little or no demand.

    I am not sure about the following but it may be that some of the microbes or bacteria will use the excess nitrogen to continue in the composting of the organic matter or in some way it will bind to molecules to escape into the air???

    As for those who consider organics as something that only comes from something that was once living it is safe to say that all organics contain trace elements that are not alive and that are returned to the earth when the organism dies so that another organism can use said non organic element in its continued health. Iron supplements are a must for menstruating females as they lose too much and can have failing health with out it.
    I am sure you can think of other non organics that are essential to continued health that reside in your body.
     
  9. G lawnboy,

    Please list your revised program that includes sulfate of potash!

    Going to apply corn gulten meal when the nitrogen can vary from 5% to 15%? Don't really know what you are feeding in terms of actual n per 1000? Do you?

    The grass will handle the excessive spring nitrogen, and it will weaken the plant going into the summer months!!!!!!!!

    NO, THE MICROBES OR THE BACTERIA will not use the excessive nitrogen, the grass will or it will leach. Three week release isn't very long!

    Some of the sythetic nitrogens release by microbes, just like your corn gluten meal!

    Why don't you check out EARTH WORKS, located in Pa.
    Have a great product, but most are fortified, some even have molasase to help feed the microbes.

    Corn gluten meal doesn't give great results on crab and goose control, and make take many years to achieve!!!!!!! Three or more years!

    Are you ging to add some p, and what would the product be?

    Still believe you are over feeding the turfgrass! 3 to 3.5 lbs per 1000 of nitrogen would be more than enough for average turf density IF clipping are returned
     
  10. GlorifiedLawnBoy

    GlorifiedLawnBoy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 37

    TimTurf, you are correct about the grass becoming weak going into the summer months as well as right that this is way too much nitrogen in the spring. In our regular program we apply .5 lbs of N in early spring and .75 lbs of N in the late spring :eek: .
    You can know a thing until it is lifted from the norm then even though it is still the same you fail to recognize it. Trying so hard to come up with a viable solution in a month is taxing our attention.
    We only read the rates that the Weed Ban needed to be applied to obtain the results of a pre emergent and tried to come up with a schedule of application that wouldn't be dumped on the lawn all at one time. It seems we are going to have to do with out a pre emergent application in spring and settle for our fall application to control as many broad leaf weeds germinating then.
    We are detemined to offer a synthetic free organic program and are going to have to trust that it can be done. It seems that this program will not be making us much money if we end up spending a lot of time manually killing weeds and handling calls concerning crabgrass.
    We are still revising this program and we are looking into Pelletized Bone Meal(1-13-0) with 30% calcium.
     

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