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Going Organic

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Pristine1, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. Pristine1

    Pristine1 LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 81

    Thanks Mr. Nice. I'm not scared at all, just trying to weigh the most economical way to get this off the ground. A microscope is no problem, and I will look further into the 50 gal brewer. I have a few different sources of compost. One is a seafood compost that has manure in it, the other is a sludge based compost. Not too keen on that, but need to do more research. My concern with both is that they have been composting for a year before I get them and sometimes they are very hot. Does this kill of the beneficials? This concern is leading me to consider starting a vermicompost operation. What are everyone's thoughts on all of this???
  2. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,911

    I love my worms but the seafood compost has some things that you want!!, the sludge is a good N source, but don't try and brew with it(just off the top of my head) as a worm chow with some wood waste compost then you have something!!. if the old compost does not look great under the glass then find something else..........
  3. Mr. Nice

    Mr. Nice LawnSite Member
    from zone 7
    Messages: 155

    I would say stay away from anything that might contain pathogen biology or compost thats of questionable makeup and cure time, if you don't make your tea right guess what? you will grow out the bad bugs if you don't brew correctly. This is one of the many reasons why to use worm cast.

    Since you only need a small amount of compost to make tea, find and buy the best worm castings you can find, local better but perhaps find something online or at a grow shop.

    Maybe treegal can help you find some?
  4. Pristine1

    Pristine1 LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 81

    I have had fantastic results when planting perennials etc. with both composts, I just don't have an analysis of it. I am up in Maine, and not sure if there are any "wormers" of scale up here, but with 3' of snow on the ground, I have some time to research!

    My thought process to get started is this: Soil tests for everyone, and I plan on topdressing with the biosolids, just to get some good and fast results on green up, and also to get that OM into the soil ASAP. (BTW I have the papers on the bio solids, and they are certified here by the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association)In the mean time, I will be working on either the worms or a source, or just use one of my typical sources of compost to brew the tea in. I am about to put out a mailing to about 400 properties in my target (V. high end and likely to want organic) area.

    As far as a fert. product, if these are lawns that are coming off a synthetic program, should I plan on some granular "organic" fert apps or just go hard on the tea?
  5. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,911

    tea and compost, more compost the better.......... i will get back to you about some casts and worms, its real easy.

    or give me a call and I can help you find some at a lower price. normal is a $ or 2 per lb
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2009
  6. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    You say you're.... "going" organic.

    Does this mean you already had a somewhat-established landscaping business of some type?
    If so, did you take the time to query your existing customers about how they might react to the new direction & philosophy of your business?

    Lack of communication, or poor communications in general can be attributed to about 95% of humanity's problems today.
    Get everything on the table as soon as you can with your past existing customers, if they're still in the running for the 2009 season.

    Most importantly, Pristine, listen carefully to your customers' NEEDS.
    Don't get in the habit of LECTURING to them..."what they need".

    They likely won't confront you & tell you "you're wrong" or anything like that; they'll usually just send you a letter along with their last payment, essentially telling you to buzz off!

    Over the last quarter century, I've been down the road of bridging from chemicals to organics.
    Been there. Done that.
    And along the way, some things admittedly have been learned the hard way! :waving:
  7. Pristine1

    Pristine1 LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 81

    Thank you Marcos. I do have an existing landscape business, been focusing mostly on design and installation, with a few weekly mowing accounts. All of my customers are interested in an organic approach. I've been top dressing lawns with compost for a few years now, I also mulch the lawns I mow instead of bagging....unless there is about 6" of leaves! Many of the people in town that I know are also keyed in to "greening up" the world. Maine in general is a pretty "green" state....or at least many of the people that live here are, so I am confident that it will go over well....As long as I can provide that nice green lawn. I don't think it needs to be perfect, but certainly 99% turf and green would be good.

    We have a few "organic" lawn care companies here, but none are truly organic. I'm pretty good at the communication/education (sales) part of the business, so again, I feel confident or maybe optimistic is a better word!
  8. Pristine1

    Pristine1 LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 81

    I just found that website a minute ago! I guess I may be over estimating the amount of compost I am going to need to get going. If I'm making say 500 gal/week to start, how much compost (roughly, I know what you said before about the actives in the compost) will I need? He isn't far from me at all, so I will contact him and stop down to chat.

    Another question I have is how many apps of tea/year? I'm planning on doing about .5" topdressing after aerating this spring. Should I do a second app of compost this fall?

    Thanks so much for taking the time with me, I've been on the cusp of this for about 5 years now, and have decided to "just do it"! Your help has already taken me light years further into getting it done.
  9. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,911

    first that's going to take a 250 gallon brewer to get started, just to start, then say 200 lbs of compost 100 lbs per brew, or worm casts about say 75 lbs per brew??? then cut that down with water. that place in Maine says they charge 15$ per lbs for worm casts, that's like a 30 x markup, i am in the wrong markets............
  10. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    Never been to Maine, but I've been all through Vermont before skiing and I understand it's quite similar in many parts.

    Frankly, the green movement here in Ohio is slower than molasses on a witche's be-hind.
    Compared to the Pacific Northest, California, and the Atlantic seaboard, we're a light-year behind.
    But we're moving ahead as fast as it is, being careful not to overstep its progress...thus becoming organic business martyrs like some companies have become before us.

    You hit the nail right on the head, Pristine.
    More than anything else, It's all about........ "relationships". :)
    Good luck to 'ya :waving:

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