Organic Fertilizer 101

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by ecoguy, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. ecoguy

    ecoguy LawnSite Member
    from Duncan
    Messages: 234

    Hey guys. It's official. I think I'm a fertilizing delinquent. I never had the "advantage" of running a chemical lawn care company before I started my organic one so I did not recieve great fertilizing basics. To be honest, my ENTIRE focus has been on OM and Microbes. So I topdress exisiting lawns and replant new lawns using soil rich in organic matter. I also lime, and use Mycorrhizae and even brew my own EM mix full of organic nutrients such as kelp, fish, molasses, humic acids, ocean water, etc. My new lawns look good but are not a deep lush color and my exisiting lawns are still weedy (Fiesta seems to work everytime I use it but has little to no staying power as the next week the weeds return) plus the lawns are also lacking the rich colour we all desire - yes, the rich colour the chemical boys seem to achieve. On one level, it's confusing as I know I'm "doing all the right things" but I'm starting to think I've severely undervalued fertilizing. All I've used thus far is a bit of Alphalfa meal which I heard works well but is very low on NPK.

    So, what would you recommend I use? How often would you I suggest I fertilize?

    My plan is to make a fertilizer mix out of meals from the local AG place.

    The same thing happened last year at this time -my lawns start to get weedy and lose their colour. Just like last year I start to feel like a loser and wonder if I really do know what I'm doing. Still, I can't help but think lack of fertilizing may be the culprit as I've followed everything else I'm supposed to do. Perhaps lawn care is more of an art than a science?

    Last edited: Jul 17, 2011
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Until nutrient cycling really kicked in I was fertilizing sometimes, 3 times per year to keep the grass green, then Milorganite was sufficient and still if I don't like the color after the leaves are down and picked up in the fall I will add fertilizer again...

    The thing that I've noticed also about organic uses of fertilizer is that too little, too much or bad timing of water is going to be a major drawback... Synthetic ferts overcomes the 'look' of the lawn more quickly, but it is often cosmetic and not really what the lawn needed to be healthy...

    Bottom line, if you've developed a healthy vibrant soil that is all it can be with what you have to work with and still need synthetic booters here and there, then go for it...
  3. quiet

    quiet LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 720

    Lawn care is a science. And lawn care is dynamic.

    And only you can answer the question of what to put down. As a businessman you need to decide what you're marketing, how you're marketing it, and how are you going to deliver what you're marketing.

    And there are a whole array of products available other than alfalfa meal which will make a lawn green, while enhancing the soil profile . . . if that's your goal.

    There are a lot of combinations that can work - have you considered a bridge product?

    Use all the tools available to you.
  4. khazelet

    khazelet LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    I tried going 100% "organic" and was having some success but found it much easier to add a little urea to my compost tea and it solved all my "lack of green" problems. I also use some pesticides very sparingly, like a DR would use a prescription, to solve difficult weed/ pest invaders. Bottom line - fantastic results and much less pesticides and synthetics. Customers are happy!
  5. NattyLawn

    NattyLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,643

    Adding urea to your tea is a waste of money and time in brewing, IMO. It would be more cost effective to spray straight urea, as you're not getting the proper benefits of a diverse compost tea because the N loving microbes will quickly choke out the good guys. You're getting the "fantastic" results from the urea and none from the tea.
  6. khazelet

    khazelet LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    I only use a little, like less than a pound for 50 gal mix, to suppliment the N naturally in the tea.
  7. Crammin'Mows

    Crammin'Mows LawnSite Member
    from Oregon
    Messages: 165

    Did the OP ever put together a fertilizer of organic meals? I am looking at creating my own custom blend of meals and myccorhyzae due to the fact that my supplier is discontinuing the fertilizer I have used for years. Would love to hear the continuation of this thread.
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