Sample organic Programs

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by BeautifulBlooms, Jan 2, 2008.

  1. BeautifulBlooms

    BeautifulBlooms LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 613

    Anyone int he north have a sample organic program they can share with me. Do you use a natural weed control or simply just fertilize. Where is the best supplier or manufacturers of organic fertilizers you use?

    Any helpw ould be appreciated.
  2. green_mark

    green_mark LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 494

    check out our web site at

    We have programs and products that will fit your need.
  3. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 504

    You don't have to over spend on buying manufactured organic fertilizers when you can purchase the same ingredients for about 1/6th the cost at your local feed and grain store. All you need is to use protein meals like soybean meal, corn meal, alfalfa meal, cottonseed meal, and corn gluten meal for weed control.

    You can control 90% of your weed problems with cultural practices of proper mowing height, tall for instance for Kentucky Blue Grass and fescue lawns, or very short for Bermuda or bent grass. The tall grass with KBG creates shade that blocks out sun light that keeps weed seeds from germination.

    Proper watering, one inch per week all at one time, helps the grass roots go deep into the soil, deeper than most weed seeds. Weeds love to be watered every day.

    With protein meals, you can apply any time of year, even during the summer months and will not cause any damage to your plants. You can fertilize early spring, late spring, late summer and early fall and mid fall.

    Proper watering and mowing height are more important than the fertilizer you use. Organic lawn care doesn't have to be expensive.
  4. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    In some areas and soils this will not cut it, nor is it desirable. Water based on the needs of the plants and the drying profile of the soil. Basically this means water when your at your allowable depletion and the amount necessary to replenish the soil to the desired depth.
  5. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 504

    I was giving an average. In the spring in my micro climate, I don't have to even water in most years, but if I do, it's only one inch per month. In the summer, it increases to one inch per week. Much does depend on the correct soil biology, that can reduce your need for inputs dramatically. But the info I gave is based on a general average. Your needs may be different. But know that watering everyday is probably the worst thing you can do for your lawn. It keeps lawn roots from going deep into the soil. They will stay near the soil surface and become very stressed when dryer or drought conditions occur.

    The amount of direct sunlight your lawn receives will also vary the amount of moisture needed. But with the correct soil biology, your lawn inputs still can be dramatically reduced.
  6. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    Kiril does bring up a good point that is often overlooked, local climate
    The climate in California is certainly different from WI. WI can often have snow on the ground (depending on where you are) well into March and sometime April, I do not think Kiril has that issue.

    Because WI often starts out with cold springs and early falls we have found that sprays work better until the soil warms and the biological activity gets going to be able to chew up granular products. There are a lot of different liquid products out there.

    I for one am not a fan of replacing chemical fertilizers with organic ones, although on some soils that are not biologically active you may have to apply a "bridge" product the first year

    You can get a nice green up in the spring with sprays, especially with compost tea sprays with Molasses and Humates added at the end of the cycle so they get in the soil and feed the beneficial microrganisms.

    Obviously it will be different for every site but in general
    1. Soil tests and or bio assays
    2. core aerate
    3. over seed
    4. apply compost teas
    5. top dress with a good finished compost
    6. adjust for micro nutrient need from soil test and soil bio-assay
    7. Apply compost teas once a month
    8. As the soil warms apply alfalfa or soy meal

    After 3 seasons you should have the soil in real good shape, by proof from your soil bio-assays, inputs will be dramtically reduced from here on. spring the fourth year soil test and soil bio-assay adjust program from there. Probably only compost tea applications in spring and fall

    The "weed" thing is one of the first thing to be mentioned. You need to set your own expectations and especially your customers. We try to manipulate the soil to make the lawn so thick and lush that "weeds" are not a real issue long term. BUT... Clover in the yard is a good thing, it not only attracts beneficial bees (which pollenate your tomatoes) but it gives you Nitrogen in the soil for FREE. As things are getting established there will be mushrooms in the yard which is an excellent sign that the fungi are back and are happy.

    lawn care professionals may even bend over and PULL a weed instead of spraying it. I know that is HERESY, punishable by death, but it is done
  7. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 504

    3 years, are you kidding???? By the second year things should be in good shape. You apply your first application or Corn Gluten Meal in the early spring. You don't have to wait for the soil to warm up beyond the point when you see, for example, the Forsythia bush starts to bloom. That's a signal that things are waking up and is ready for your first protein meal application, usually CGM.

    In an organic system, you never us synthetic chemical fertilizers. That just sets you back instead of moving forward. It's like shooting yourself in the foot. The whole purpose of using AACT is to supercharge your soil with soil biology. This will give you 'biological activity' mentioned. Use synthetic chemicals kill off the soil biology you are trying to establish. Don't use them, not if you want to be organic. They aren't needed in any event.

    If you are going to overseed or reseed this is best accomplished in the fall. In fact, it's the only time you should attempt overseeding or reseeding. The odds are against you any other time of the year.

    You only need to apply compost as a top dressing one time when you first switch to an organic practice. After that, in most cases, it's not needed again. This is true if you use AACT at least 4 times a year.

    Of course, the micro herd you just applied with your AACT needs to be fed. The protein meals is all that is needed. I apply different meals, 4 times, during the course of the year. CGM early spring, Alfalfa Meal late may - CGM late summer (if you are not going to overseed in the fall) and then soy bean meal mid Sept. If you use different protein meals, it will give you soil more microbe diversity.

    Back to seeding, it works best if you core aerate your soil, topdress with 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch of compost or other organic material. You will want to treat your grass seeds with spores of 3 different species of endomycorrhizal fungi, plus additional beneficial organisms for control of lawn-disease-related pathogens. You will want to apply Overseed and then roll the seed with a 100 lb roller to insure good soil/seed contact. I apply alfalfa meal as it helps with the establishment of the grass roots. It takes about 21 days for Kentucky Blue Grass to germinate and that's the same amount of time it takes for the microbes to break down the protein meals. You can apply the AACT about 3 weeks after you've overseeded.

    You will very good results follwing these items.
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    It took alot of looking but I found out that the typical Pre-M works by acting as a hormone that stifles the growth of the root once the seed germinates.

    Does anyone know how the CGM actually works in preventing crabgrass from growing where it is applied?
  9. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    Gerry, Nice program I am glad it works for you

    My recommendation for chemically dependent low fertility soils is every fall for 3 years, core aerate, overseed, spray compost tea and top dress with a good finished compost. Just like you have certain programs, I do too.

    Immediately, or as soon as possible, after core aerating you should apply compost teas. It is not often that you get to spray these good guys down INTO the soil. So before you top dress spray compost tea

    Smallaxe, I am in the beginning stages of some conversations on this subject and will post as soon as I am done. I am trying to reach a person that fluidizes CGM and removes the N, they are suppose to have great results. I would like to add it to my product and have an organic weed and feed.
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I was wondering about that, Bill. How long before processing of the CGM I mean.
    Sounds like a fun project, good luck with that :)

    I would still like to know how the CGM actually works on suppressing germination. Based on the anecdotal evidence it seems like it may create a hostile environment that the seed does not want to open up into.
    Even if that is the strategy what is it about the environment and how is it actually created?
    If anyone comes up with it pass it along.

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