Lawn Seeding

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by SeedSquirter, May 2, 2004.

  1. SeedSquirter

    SeedSquirter LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    Fresh virgin meat here - please be gentle with me!

    I just finished reading ALL the posts in this forum and have learned a great deal. Thanks to all who have contributed.

    I have just purchased a 500 gallon hydroseeding unit and my first question has to do with organic methods at seeding time for turf grass (the forum discussions weren't too heavy in this area).

    That question is - What would you recommend to replace the normal seed starter type fertilizer in my mix (Lesco 18-24-12 for example)?

    A little more information to help you in answering:

    Hydroseed mix sufficient to cover 1000sq ft. normally contains about 100 gallons of water, 35 to 40lbs of ph balanced wood or paper mulch, seed at recommended rate (I add a little to the recommendation), and starter fertilizer at recommended rate. Other additives such as tackifier, locking fibers, water retaining gels, etc. can be added if required for the site conditions.

    I live in the Kansas City area and most people here seem to have a fescue type lawn.

    I have also tried Monty's Joy Juice (yellow label) as well as Plant Marvel which were both night and day improvements over the Lesco - but I am still looking for something better.

    My own (uneducated opinion) is to first do a soil test, then hydroseed with a mix that is "tweaked" to get the seed to germinate as soon as possible, followed a few weeks later by a normal fert program as recommended by the soil test lab. The "tweaked" part would be something like compost tea, molasses, stray dog, etc.

    OK, give it to me - but please be gentle.....
  2. SeedSquirter

    SeedSquirter LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    OK, how about this one:

    For those of you who apply compost tea to turf - would it be ok to mix the compost tea and alfalfa meal together and apply both at the same time?
  3. Tim G

    Tim G LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Sounds interesting I know nothing about hydro seeding. Something I would like to try in the future. Why dont you make some tea in a bucket, and add your hydro mix as you would in your machine and try it out on a small area. Compost tea can go anaerobic on you if you over feed it, you have to be careful. When I apply aerobic compost tea, I add a kelp fertilizer, and spray it as soon as I can. I am experimenting with mychorrhiza as well which may also be a good additive for hydroseeding. It associates with plant roots, needs to be in contact with them and will increase the root mass. Dont know if this helps, but good luck
  4. SeedSquirter

    SeedSquirter LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18


    Thanks for the response!

    I guess my line of thinking is that the compost tea along with a good starter fertilizer will help the seed germinate much better & then the alfalfa meal would start to kick in about 3 weeks later (about the time the starter fert runs out). From what I have read on this forum, corn meal isn't recommended for application on new seeds - even though it is much cheaper here.

    As for application, I would use dechlorinated water and add ALL materials at the customer site (including the continuously aerated compost tea concentrate). Mixing time would be about 10 minutes. The nozzles used on a typical hydroseeder are quite large so I am not worried about clogging at all.

    My real concern is that the compost tea potency will be reduced beyond what would be acceptable either by the combination of materials or by the aggressive agitation action of the hydroseeder itself.

    Be pretty slick if it works though.....
  5. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    Hello Seed Squirter,
    As you can see, the answers to organic questions when it concerns hydroseeding are slow coming here. Since it seems to be a new concept appling organics with the hydro seeding slurry, I can only assume the slow replys are either because they dont know the answer or they are not sure of the answer. While I feel that the addition of organics with the hydroseeding slurry should be of some benefit, I am not so sure that applying organics along with starter fertilizers will be productive. TimG mentioned experimenting with Mychorrizha. Mychorrizha can be killed or severly diminished with high applications of Phosphorous which is normally found in starter fertilizers. So can most other forms of bacteria. It is my understanding that compost teas are mostly living microbes that might not survive the direct mixing with fertilizers used in the hydroseeding process. While I am reasonably sure that adding compost or other organics to the hydroseeding slurry would be benefital to the soil, it might work better if they where used without the addition of fertilizers at the same time. I am planning on doing a little test since I am redoing my own lawn. In my test I plan on doing everything I normally do when I hydroseed with the addition of Mushroom compost to the slurry on half of the lawn. Since my seeding area is small and will require less than a tank load, I intend to spray slurry without compost on half the lawn and on another area that is freshly graded, then add the compost to the slurry and finish the lawn and spray the remainder on the other area. This will give me two test sites using the same slurry with and without compost to eliminate variations in slurry mixes. I will post pictures on the as well as here. I feel this is worth pursueing but might take a lot of trail and error before a suitable balance between organics and chemical is determined.
  6. googleplex

    googleplex LawnSite Member
    Messages: 82

    seed & mudd,
    have you considered spraying the compost tea directly to the soil, then applying the hydro slurry?
    Also, mushroom compost is sterilized after use (at least around here) so you won't get the benefit of the benificial micro-organisms.
  7. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    When we get the shroom compost it is still making heat so I assume it is still full of organisms. As for spraying the tea before the slurry, might work but would there be any difference in effect if the tea is sprayed and then the seeding slurry right afterward instead of putting it all down at once, or are you suggesting waiting a few days between the two applications. I have considered applying the compost a few weeks after seeding but in most cases its not really practical, especially since it is hard to get the home owners to pay the difference. I sort of feel that the addition of the organic matter will be a big help even if the organisms are killed off with the fertilizer, after all more organisms are going to be needed for their decay, and I have considered adding molasses to the slurry to help the little buggers breed. Some of this is a mute point concerning a lot of my seeding, if I am doing the prepwork, meaning I can get on the property with equipment, I can add the organic matter and work it into the soil. My biggest concern is doing critical areas that are to steep for equipment yet the home owners want something to cover the dirt. These areas are seldom mowed or maintained except for a little weed wacking and hardly ever see additional fertilizer after planting. Most should be covered with Junipers and mulched but money always seems to get in the way.
  8. googleplex

    googleplex LawnSite Member
    Messages: 82

    i've been considering getting a hydroseeder to do just about what you're considering (hopefully next year).
    On they say that the microorganisms can be killed by ther wrong pump so, you'll need to check whether it'll work all at once. They talk about compost tea makers 'failing' because the kill half of the the beneficials. I think that should still leave enough to help.
    If you're doing the prep, I'd add the tea and/or compost then and seed later.
    But like with most things in life, I think you'll have to whats economically practical even if it isn't the 'best' way
  9. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    Thanks for the link, I have been trying to figure out if adding the composted products to the seeder is worthwhile for sometime now. Just doesnt seem to be much info on the subject. Terra seeding is what sort of gave me the ideal for trying it in a regular hydroseeder. With Terra Seeding they blow large amounts of compost and organic materials on top of the surface and then inject the seed by mechanical means, (not sure exactly how), but the procedure is expensive and so is the equipment. I was hopeing to duplicate the results using the equipment I already have. Hydroseeders are expensive too!! Since I cant seem to find any information from someone that has actually tried it using a hydroseeder, I guess I will have to be the guineypig. There are all sorts of "so called" organic products being sold to add to a hydroseeding slurry but I feel most of them are just snake oil. While they may be benefitual, the amounts being recommended by the manufacturer are so minute that they cant possibly be a serious benefit, at least not short term. I guess I have a hard time believeing that 32oz of anything per acre can supply enough micro-organisms to properly admend the soil, or at least not in the time it takes the seed to germinate and grow.
  10. SeedSquirter

    SeedSquirter LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    I had read the same info about how the wrong type of pump could damage the potency. I am sure that the jet type hydroseed pumps will do some damage because they are very aggressive.

    Wonder if it might work to add an injector in the line AFTER the pump to prevent damage? I am sure it would need to be a type of design that would allow the slurry to pass unimpeded. Something to consider anyway. If you had a mechanical type hydroseeder I am sure you wouldn't have to worry about damage from the pump as it is low volume.

    Mudd, we must be thinking along the same lines on several things. I also have plans to try some mushroom based product in my mix. I currently use a product called Earth Right to help aerate and inoculate the soil. The same people make a product called Mushroom Stuff.

    I am working toward using my hydroseeding equipment for other applications during the off season for growing grass. This will most likely include the aeration product, compost tea, and meal type fertilizers (corn, alfalfa, etc). Possibly others if I run across something beneficial that is worth the effort.

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