Plz show me some organic results..

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Rayholio, Jun 18, 2009.

  1. Rayholio

    Rayholio LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,461

    Dishboy.. Are we neighbors or something? I'm quite sure that you're not harboring the cornels 7 herbs and spices.. LOL it was a simple, innocent question.. but that's cool..

    Yeah.. that Turf Toes pic is exactly the kind of results I'm looking for.. my god thats awesome.. with results like that, I don't know how he isn't caring for every lawn on the block with a budget for it..

    Strange it never occoured to me to look for dark variaty seed... I'll have to find some sources.

    Does pretty much everyone with an organic program use bulk compost yearly, or is that more the exception than the rule?
     
  2. terrapro

    terrapro LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,234

    LOL, it would be embarrassing to be their neighbors.
     
  3. dishboy

    dishboy LawnSite Platinum Member
    from zone 6
    Posts: 4,014

    The seed mix was sown on 4/2008 and is Pennington Contractors Bluegrass -Rye mix bought at Costco. This lawn has never had compost but has about four years of mulching the annual leaf fall ( 3 one ton truck loads worth annually) an is always mulched now. It has worm mounds so thick you would think it would be disruptive to growing turf. Feed those worm and microbes with 65%75% of annual N going down in the fall and 4 applications of your fav organic fert throughout the season. Deep water infrequently. Or just use compost.
     
  4. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,298

    Ray,

    The key to any successful organic program is building a healthy soil and providing conditions in the soil that are conducive to deep, dense rooting, microbial nutrient cycling, good gas exchange, good water retention without water logging. This is especially true in a heavy clay. What will get your soils to that point is organic matter. The material that will get your soils there the quickest and cheapest is compost. If you want to speed things along, you can consider CT applications, however keep in mind that an explosion of microbial activity could lead to temporary deficiencies in several key "color" nutrients depending on soil conditions and water status. Bottom line is each site needs to be assessed and managed independently.

    One of the major problems in this industry, as seen in other threads, is people try to separate plant care from soil and water management. You can not separate them. You can dump all the ferts and compost on a site you want, but if the conditions in the soil are not conducive to healthy plant growth and diverse microbial communities, it doesn't matter. And remember, every living thing in a landscape begins and ends with water. The success of any program (organic or synthetic) depends 100% on how it is managed when irrigation is required (obviously you have no control over rain).

    Also watch the iron apps. You may be creating more problems than you are solving.
     
  5. WannaBeOrganic

    WannaBeOrganic LawnSite Member
    Posts: 90

    Believe it or not that's not even one of the better photos. You can see from the photo that it's over exposed as the kids shirt is completely white. I can't find the posts now but I think he used the Galaxy Blend on his front lawn and straight Midnight II on his front or vice versa. I could be wrong but it was something similar. You should check the NTEP ratings and see which cultivars have the darkest genetic color in your area. You might want to get a mix that has different characteristics such as better disease resistance.

    From what I remember he also was fertilizing quite heavily with soy bean meal.

    If you want freakishly dark make people think you spray paint your lawn results it seems you have to start over with new seed and just as you would with synthetics give it plenty of N to green up and keep the macro and micro nutrients in the soil correct. New seed will also give you less headaches as the newer varieties have been bred to be more disease and drought tolerant in general.

    There was another photo I was trying to find that proved it was more the seed than the fertilizer. He posted one showing the division between him and his neighbor. It was a sharp straight line from where his grass was planted and his neighbors. If it was all from the fertilizer, there is a higher chance for fertilizer to drift and the line wouldn't have been as crisp as it was.

    I'm not interested in starting another debate but from the people that post about how they take care of their own lawns I would say the answer is no. From what I've read compost is applied when switching from synthetic to organic or when overseeding but after that it's not necessarily applied every year but that may depend on the existing soil conditon. These are people managing their own lawns. The people who I've been reading and seeing pictures from seem to follow what is outlined in the organic lawn care FAQ stickies on this site more or less.

    Provided you get your soil biology kickstarted with compost and maintained through recycling grass clippings and mulch mowing leaves and stop adding chemical inputs that will harm the microbial life in your soil plus earthworms and other stuff you can get the same level of green you get with synthetics from what I've seen. You can even push it a little bit with a little more N since fertilizers such as CGM, SBM, alfalfa won't burn your lawn. Some organic fertilizers such as bone meal might.

    That's the advice I'm trying to follow for my own lawn anyway. This year my lawn has been the darkest it's ever been and I basically only applied regular old corn meal a couple of times this year. And corn meal seems to have done a number on a bit of fungus I had.

    Read the sticky FAQs on this forum. Similar information is posted elsewhere and a lot of people are following it with good results.
     
  6. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,560

    The programs my lawns are on vary depending upon the site, the clients' expectations and budget. I use Nutrients PLUS organic based and organic granular ferts, ICT products, CGM, fish hydrolysate, kelp, humates, molasses, compost, AACT, fall overseeding and occasionally an herbicide.
     
  7. Rayholio

    Rayholio LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,461

    Sweet... Now I know WHAT you used.. I still don't know WHY.. Which is just fine.. This gives me some homework.. and I won't feel like I'm reading about something that's theory.. because it worked for you.. and you have the pics to prove it ;)

    Thanks a ton!

    Kiril.. I understand the benefits of compost.. We use mushroom compost in our beds, and even our garden some times, and the results speak for themselves... Honestly, I don't know much about gardening, or bedding plants anyhow, and it has been a 'set it and forget it' solution..

    With lawns, I'm not so quick to jump in.. I want to know what's going on, and why (at least on a basic level) For example, I don't know when the best time to compost would be.. or the difference between composts (our city offers free lawn debris compost.. I don't know if its worth my time) I don't know how to identify, and deal with problems that arise from the use, or misuse of compost in a turf enviorment.. etc etc..

    Now, I was planning on starting out with some compost teas.. but In the past I've only seen results from operating on the brink of over application.. anything less has no results.. anything more damages turf.. possibly due to our soil type.. so I'm concerned that CT will have little or no noticable results.. I expect that nothing short of full scale compost apps will have any noticable effects.

    The other issue with TRUE IPM and organic care is my customer base.. My average lawn is about 18K in size, and many of them are cheap.. 95% don't care about 'enviormental concerns' as revealed by last years customer survey.. and I have MANY customers that are just keeping their lawn green due to neighborhood pressure.. I'm going to have a hard time selling them the labor that comes with compost apps...

    and lastly, I want something that fits into a business model which can grow to Tru-Green like heights (exept that doesn't suck) LOL

    on average, how often does a lawn need to be re-composted?


    WannaBe.... I'm gonna check out these varietys of grass.. I actually do a lot of seeding for my customers.. and if this is the 'secret'.. that would be just as good by me...

    I've looked at the FAQs.. and much like any intro.. it just raises more questions.. the #1 being.. "does it actually work?" that's why I'm so interested in pics :)

    Thanks everyone.. you've been very helpful so far.. and I have my 1st batch of ITCs 123 on the way to play with..
     
  8. DUSTYCEDAR

    DUSTYCEDAR LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Posts: 5,137

    THE BLEND OF GRASSS WILL PLAY A ROLE IN HOW DARK IT WILL BE
    the thing with organic is its different that what you have been used to
    as tony little has said YOU CAN DO IT
     
  9. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,298

    Generally spring and fall are the best times.

    This is the hardest thing about using compost you need to determine. Not all compost is the same, and some composts may be detrimental over the long term (i.e. composts with high salts, heavy metals, etc...). I am not sure I would consider spent mushroom compost as high quality, and probably would want to mix it with 1 or more other composts.

    Basically you need to assess what you have available to you, mix different composts if you need to in order to meet a particular sites needs. Test both the compost and soil in order to determine if your compost can meet the nutrient requirements of the turf, and at what rate you need to apply. Given the slow release nature of most nutrients in compost, it will take time for you to determine what your minimum application rate is, if going for an all compost solution.

    In your particular situation and clients, a bridge program may be most appropriate in the beginning. As your SOM increases, you can then start tapering off the chems until you find the minimum needed (if any) to maintain the turf at the clients desired level. Personally I feel resi/comm turf should always fall into the "low maint" category for nutrients and this is the direction I push clients who insist on having turf.

    If your soils are low in OM, then I would expect CT will not get you much mileage. Compost provides both food and microbes to the system. Build your SOM and maintain it between 5-10% (or if incorporating shoot for 8-13%), then you might consider CT as a substitute for a compost application in a multiple application program.

    Remember, just because you don't see results doesn't mean you are not getting results. Keep in mind there is more to assessing turf health than visual indicators.

    For those people, money is the motivator. A properly executed sustainable turf program will result in substantially lower maint. costs over time. Also, never stop trying to convince your clients their lawns don't need to perform like sports turf.

    Cannot give you an answer. This entirely depends on the sites soil, environment, maintenance practices, and clients desires. For me, I make it easy for people and recommend at least 1 time a year @ 1/4" as a seed covering in the fall. Since I also recommend yearly over seeding, the compost application is just part of the over seeding. This can also be supplemented with a spring application as well. Once again, it entirely depends on site requirements, quality of compost, and desires of the client.

    Some "light" reading.

    http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/turfcare.pdf

    http://ohric.ucdavis.edu/Newsltr/CTC/ctcv51_1234.pdf

    http://www.presidio.gov/NR/rdonlyres/4E22E42D-F215-4648-80E9-191526FA4323/0/CompostTurfTrial.pdf
     
  10. growingdeeprootsorganicly

    growingdeeprootsorganicly LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 766

    kiril, aren't you giving advice to same person who was bashing you and seemed to "know it all"? a month or so ago in the chem forum? why bother? their intent is only about making a buck, and will not change how or what they do? not saying people can't change but the feeling i get from some of these guys is it's just about gaining market share. i say to them.....do you own research
     

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