opabinia51
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Organic Lawn Care

There has been some discussion in another forum about organic methods of tree removal and organic lawn care came up. So, here is some information about organic lawn care from an excellant book that I have.

So, the traditional "Golf Green Lawn" is a monoculture of one species. Nature does not function with monocultures and this is why plantains, dandelions, clover, butter cups constantly try to grow into lawns. (personally, I see a regular salad bar in most of those plants, but HEY that's just me :wink: )

Anyway, organic lawn care starts with regular aeration, dethatching if necessary, proper watering, seasonal fertilizing with organic fertilizers (you can use compost and spread it with a fertilizer spreader, diluted liquid fish fertilizer can be applied with one of those (shudder) herbicide sprayers (provided that it hasn't had herbicides and pesticides in it before)

Most important mulch mowing with sharp blades set the correct height.

SO WHAT'S THE CORRECT HEIGHT?

Huh! Yah, the correct height; ask five differnet people, get five different heights. But, here is my take on the correct mowing height. In the summer and spring, mow your lawn to about a four or even a five. This will conserve water as less evaporation will occur.

Now, with mulching or if you don't have a mulching attachment, just not picking up the clippings, thatch can build on your lawn so, it should be raked but, with continued aeration, that should be sufficient.

It is important to keep the soil around pH 6.5 (slightly acidic). On the west coast of Canada (where I and the author of the book live) winter rains acidify the soil, the solution is to apply dolomite lime to the lawn every year which will neutralize acidic pH's and add nutrients such as Calcium and Magnesium.

Aerate the lawn after a wet winter to prevent compaction of the soil. This will give the roots a free draining medium and they will grow much better. It is suggested to leave the core plugs to break down and feed the lawn.

And I will repeat that a regular topdressing with compost. This will help in the decomposition of thatch.

TIPS:
Do not remove grass clippings as they feed soil microbes, which play a vital role in feeding the lawn

To avoid compaction, do not walk on the lawn or cut the lawn after watering or heavy rain

Always cut grass higher than 2 inches.

garden_mom
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Here's an interesting expansion on the length of the lawn; the roots of your grass will only grow as deep as the height of the blade. The shorter the grass, the more shallow the roots. Shallow roots mean grass that dries up and dies very quickly. Also, if you have to water, water deeply once a week, not a little several times a week. To discourage weeds, you can top dress with corn gluten meal in the early spring which supresses weed seeds from growing and also feeds your lawn (in addition to the compost top dressing).

Oldmainer
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Organic Lawn Care

Hi Folks...I like a lawn with a variety of plants...as has been said...you can eat some of it...depending... :roll: But ya know...there are better things to worry about...like running out of peat moss...or some folks touching off an atomic weapon cos they don't like us...If the latter happens we won't have to sweat the lawn...depending on where we live... :shock: Franklin

sungirl
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I am new to organic gardening. :)

What is the best type of organic fertilizer to use or more specifically is there something in particular to look for when I go to purchase or are most products similar? Thank-you.

opabinia51
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Well, you've sort of hit the perverbial nail on the head with that question!

In organic gardening what we are trying to do is mimic nature to the best of our abilities. There isn't really "best organic fertilizer" other than to say compost.

You can buy compost (natures way of recycling nutrients) but, you can also make it for free. If you do purchase some, try to find some that is not sterilized.

Here is a list of different organic fertilizers that you can use to add both macro and micro nutrients to the soil:

Kelp Meal
Liquid Seaweed Fertilizer
Liquid Fish Fertilizer
Cotton Seed Meal
Coffee Grounds (add with mulched leaves)
Blood meal (same)
Rock Phosphate (Not actually organic (organic means that the chemical contains carbon as a backbone) but, is a mineral and aids in the formation of soil structure)
And so on....

Just try and grow your lawn and gardens in a well structured soil. Compost tea is a great additive to any garden or lawn, sometimes you can buy aerated compost teas but, you can also make you own by placing compost from you compost pile in a barrel and aerating it with a pump.

sungirl
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Thank-you for clarifying exactly organic means in gardening. I appreciate it. Just one more question -without fully understanding the processing process- why should I not purchase a sterilized product? :)

opabinia51
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Aha! Here we go! :) The whole reason for using compost (other than the nutrients supplied therein) is to put all the beneficial microbes and macrflora and fauna into the soil that we feverishly try to cultivate.

This is the reason why we use aerated compost teas as foliar sprays, to inoculate the leaves of plants with beneficial flora and fauna. In a study done by the proprietors of our local compost tea company, leaves of plants that were not inoculated with compost tea were examined along with leaves that were sprayed with -cides (fungicides, pesticides and the rest of it) and leaves that were inoculated with an aerated compost tea. Low and behold, the leaves with no tea had mainly pathogenic organisms on them, the leaves with the -cides had all pathogenic organisms and the leaves that were sprayed with compost tea had a healthy population of beneficial organisms with a few pathogens.

Anyway, my point is that if you buy sterilized compost; all of these beneficial organisms that benefit or plants to no will not be there. And the reason for making compost is to have these great little workers at our disposal because they make it such that we don't need to use any synthetic chemicals to control disease, or to feed our plants.

I hope this answers your question.

PS
There is a thread in the organic forum where a lady is all upset because her compost is filled with maggots, well; this is actually a good thing. Where I live, it is the red wriggler worms that do most of my composting, and obviously where she lives, the larvae of various insects are doing most of the work. So, what we want to do as gardeners is to understand what is going on in the soil and accept the processes for what they are.

Anyway, that was just a little side note.

sungirl
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Thank-you OpaBinia! That is a very clear explanation - I now understand the importance of good soil. The mention of the study really helped me to better understand this process. :)

I have just been thinking about the study you mentioned, and does that mean that the -cides actually do the opposite of what they are supposed to do and attract unwanted bugs?

robyn514
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philosophy

Gardening is a journey....not a destination :lol:

milifestyle
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sungirl wrote:I am new to organic gardening. :)

What is the best type of organic fertilizer to use or more specifically is there something in particular to look for when I go to purchase or are most products similar? Thank-you.
Vermicast is a great addition to any lawn. Top dress with this each Autumn and Spring and you'll have a lush lawn all year round.

The Helpful Gardener
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Sungirl asked about pesticides attracting unwanted bugs...

Attracting, no. But like the old saw goes, nature abbhors a vaccum. When we use chemicals we kick a big hole in the biosphere. Whatever we wanted to kill may or may not go, but LOTS of benficial organisms and microbes ARE going to bite it. So now we have an unoccupied niche, and Nature abbhors that, right? So who shows up first? The rough and tumble, spit in your eye and call you names crowd. Functional anarobes like E. coli, weeds, bad guy bugs; you know, the toughies. So we do what? More pesticides, bigger hole, new problem, more pesticide bigger hole yet , even more issues...

Fill all your niches and Nature works with you, fill them with the right characters and she smiles at you...

THAT's organics...

HG
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Op51 great thread good info for a lot of people.

HG the above post really nails it on the head. Everyone should read than re-read that, than rinse and repeat again. :wink: :D

Bear in the garden
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"I see a regular salad bar in most of those plants", op51 your every right by saying that, I see bunnies eating the cover, the bees in the clover flowers, and them darn dandies I have a old guy come by and pic all the flowers for wine. my back lawn is 95% clover and it will feed a host of wild life with clover, you never have to feed it and I only cut in after the bees have had there fill from the flowers or the flowers are done blooming then maybe 4 times all summer it gets cut. I try not to use any pesticides in my gardens so not to harm the wild life or whats left of them in the city, I found that soap and water will get rid of lots of bugs maybe because the don't like the taste of soap in there mouth :lol:.
organic fertilizer I don't think there is such a thing unless you make it your self most that you find in gardens center have some kind of chemicals in it so to me that's not the real deal, so I use teas from my compost pile and if I say so my self my gardens and lawn ( back yard) look good.

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Bear, dandelion greens go for $20 a lb. at Union Square Farmer's Market; heck with rabbits!

[url=https://greenmethods.com/site/weblog/2009/05/understanding-insecticidal-soaps-and-detergents/]Insecticidal soaps[/url] aren't entirely understood yet as to the exact killing mechanism; seems to be a combination of factors (already better than chems as they can't develop immunities to all the different modes of attack).

As for organic fertilizers there are many and some are actually pretty good, but some aren't even what they profess to be, truly organic. You have to do your homework. I definitely like [url=https://www.bradfieldorganics.com/]Bradfield Organics[/url]; plant based nitrogen and from the waste streams of other feed products, so really green stuff :mrgreen: Just do your homework and you can find good products; we'll help... :wink:

HG
Scott Reil

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HG, I checked out the link and found 6 garden center near me that have it now to call them and talk to them about it to find out more.

Thanks for the heads up

Bear
My Mother is earth, my Father is the sun, My sister is the wind, I'm Bear the keeper of the caves

ranman99
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rule of thumb,,,hotter it gets ,,the higher you want to mow

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RM is spot on; my number one tip for organic lawns is mow high. The reasons are many and various...

First of all as noted up thread, taller grass means longer roots. The difference between 2" grass and 4" gras is not double the roots though, it is six times as much! Imagine the difference that will make for a lawn.

More shade means more soil moisture, and more moisture means better grass. It also means better penetration, so less surface flow and more retention onsite. MOre shade means heat loving weeds don't get as much heat either. Giddyup.

The increased cut means more leaf, and more leaf means more chlorophyll, and that means more energy for the plant. Fertilizers don't feed plants, photosynthesis feeds plants (ferts just help with photosynthesis. Chemical companies want you to cut at two inches so you need their nasty weed chems; grass wants to be three feet tall. I compromise at four inches and the grass couldn't be happier (it is now doubling its photosynthetic output, making it very sturdy). It now outcompetes most weeds, even during the hot season weeds like and grass hates. NICE!

When we are looking at doing just ONE thing to make organic lawns viable and self sufficient, this is my best tip. Taller grass is happier grass...

HG
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:RM is spot on; my number one tip for organic lawns is mow high. The reasons are many and various...

First of all as noted up thread, taller grass means longer roots. The difference between 2" grass and 4" gras is not double the roots though, it is six times as much! Imagine the difference that will make for a lawn.

More shade means more soil moisture, and more moisture means better grass. It also means better penetration, so less surface flow and more retention onsite. MOre shade means heat loving weeds don't get as much heat either. Giddyup.

The increased cut means more leaf, and more leaf means more chlorophyll, and that means more energy for the plant. Fertilizers don't feed plants, photosynthesis feeds plants (ferts just help with photosynthesis. Chemical companies want you to cut at two inches so you need their nasty weed chems; grass wants to be three feet tall. I compromise at four inches and the grass couldn't be happier (it is now doubling its photosynthetic output, making it very sturdy). It now outcompetes most weeds, even during the hot season weeds like and grass hates. NICE!

When we are looking at doing just ONE thing to make organic lawns viable and self sufficient, this is my best tip. Taller grass is happier grass...

HG
I agree with this but my lawn is St. Augustine (I live in Texas) and it looks really bad if you let it get four inches tall. I can do about two, maybe three, but four is really pushing it. Thankfully, St. Augustine is really hearty and can take a lot of heat & drought before it dies.

My question is this, is there a good natural weed neutralizer I can use to help keep the weeds that flourish in cooler temperatures from taking over? The St. Augustine normally pushes the weeds out by mid-summer, but in spring the weeds sneak in and just look horrible. I'd like to keep them at bay if possible next spring.
Find a job you love, and you won't work a day in your life.

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tomf
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Re: Organic Lawn Care

I have been reading what others here are doing but I have a few issues to deal with. One is I have to many acres of lawn to pull weeds by hand or even use some of the same methods others use. What I do is to mow, thatch and aerate, reseed, and over seed. i have some moss issues in some areas, close to the house I try to control it, but in some areas I just say "it is green, let it be".
Another is all the wild life eats my grass, I have deer, rabbits, and elk come by, the deer will be eating 20 feet from me sometimes. Birds are going after bugs in the lawns. I also do not want chemicals getting into the water table. So organic is my only way, my lawn is a bit of a mix with some weeds but weeds are natural. I am actually surprised at who well the grass is doing. Not all places are doing as well as others although. If I could get 55 gallon barrels of organic tea that would be good, but there is no way I can make enough o do any good. Comments, ideas, and help are most welcome.
The things I do are an evolution and I am always learning. My way is not the only way of doing things, and I may and will change the way I do things as I learn better ways. So any advice that I give is in that spirit.

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Re: Organic Lawn Care

....the odd thoughts . . . .

somewhere, and I'd have to research it - there's information / book / whatever that maintains the types of "weeds" that thrive reflect "soil conditions"

the only one I can cite off-hand is moss - likes acid conditions.
I got moss. applied ground limestone 5x years in a row with little effect - then decided to apply at 3x the "normal" rate - well, that has whacked back the moss noticeably.....

>>I have to many acres . . .
there are people who think the entire world should dump chemical fertilizers and go 100% organic 100% of everywhere on the planet.

as you have noticed, organic approaches tend to be a lot more labor / time intensive. going whole planet 100% organic would certainly "work" - if you accept about 50-75% of the human population dying of starvation.

so, here we sit quietly in our little chem free kitchen gardens, pondering . . .

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Gary350
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Re: Organic Lawn Care

My idea of Organic Lawn Care is, do absolutely nothing. Let grass, plantain, clover, dandelions, and all other things grow. Let moles dig tunnels. Let birds eat what every they want. Let honey bees come to all the flowers. In the 1800s people cut grass around the house to keep snakes away from the house that has evolved into a money making business for many people. I mow my grass high and mow around the clover so the bees continue to come. When clover turns brown I cut it down then it grows back and bees return. I never fertilize I do not want to mow grass more often.

Image

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Organic Lawn Care

Beautiful lawn photo, Gary!

That's my take on lawns also. I think spring lawns are just beautiful with yellow dandelions and purple violets:

Image

I haven't seen it around here, but in Cincinnati, spring beauty was a common wildflower that would grow in big colonies in people's lawns.

Image

So pretty! You can't have that in a treated and fertilized lawn

My lawn is more clover and weeds than grass, but kept mowed evenly, it looks just as green as everyone elses.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Organic Lawn Care

Dillbert wrote:.

as you have noticed, organic approaches tend to be a lot more labor / time intensive. going whole planet 100% organic would certainly "work" - if you accept about 50-75% of the human population dying of starvation.

so, here we sit quietly in our little chem free kitchen gardens, pondering . . .
RE feeding the world:

Here's one more:

UN Report Says Small Scale Organic Farming Only Way to Feed the World
https://www.technologywater.com/post/699 ... rming-only

" the United Nations is once against sounding the alarm about the urgent need to return to (and develop) a more sustainable, natural and organic system. ... essentially said organic and small-scale farming is the answer for “feeding the world,” not GMOs and monocultures. ..Diversity of farms, reducing the use of fertilizer and other changes are desperately needed according to the report"

There is more and more information coming out that says that the ONLY way we are going to be able to feed our population is through organic methods.
There are actually myriad studies from around the world showing that organic farms can produce about as much, and in some settings much more, than conventional farms. Where there is a yield gap, it tends to be widest in wealthy nations, where farmers use copious amounts of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in a perennial attempt to maximize yields. It is true that farmers converting to organic production often encounter lower yields in the first few years, as the soil and surrounding biodiversity recover from years of assault with chemicals. And it may take several seasons for farmers to refine the new approach.

More importantly, in the world's poorer nations where most of the world's hungry live, the yield gaps completely disappear. University of Essex researchers Jules Pretty and Rachel Hine looked at over 200 agricultural projects in the developing world that converted to organic and ecological approaches, and found that for all the projects-involving 9 million farms on nearly 30 million hectares-yields increased an average of 93 percent. A seven-year study from Maikaal District in central India involving 1,000 farmers cultivating 3,200 hectares found that average yields for cotton, wheat, chili, and soy were as much as 20 percent higher on the organic farms than on nearby conventionally managed ones. Farmers and agricultural scientists attributed the higher yields in this dry region to the emphasis on cover crops, compost, manure, and other practices that increased organic matter (which helps retain water) in the soils.

organic farming is a sophisticated combination of old wisdom and modern ecological innovations that help harness the yield-boosting effects of nutrient cycles, beneficial insects, and crop synergies. It's heavily dependent on technology-just not the technology that comes out of a chemical plant.
from https://www.worldwatch.org/node/4060 World Watch Institute. The Worldwatch Institute is a globally focused environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C. Worldwatch was named as one of the top ten sustainable development research organizations by Globescan Survey of Sustainability Experts.

Last August, there was a good deal of publicity about the fact that the United Nations released a report saying Only Small Farmers and Agroecology Can Feed the World
Modern industrial agricultural methods can no longer feed the world, due to the impacts of overlapping environmental and ecological crises linked to land, water and resource availability.

The stark warning comes from the new United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Prof Hilal Elver, in her first public speech since being appointed in June.

“Food policies which do not address the root causes of world hunger would be bound to fail”, she told a packed audience in Amsterdam.The 2009 global food crisis signalled the need for a turning point in the global food system”, she said at the event hosted by the Transnational Institute (TNI), a leading international think tank.

“Modern agriculture, which began in the 1950s, is more resource intensive, very fossil fuel dependent, using fertilisers, and based on massive production. This policy has to change.

“We are already facing a range of challenges. Resource scarcity, increased population, decreasing land availability and accessibility, emerging water scarcity, and soil degradation require us to re-think how best to use our resources for future generations.
that is from https://permaculturenews.org/2014/09/26/ ... eed-world/ but that was just the first place I could find it. The UN report was publicized in all kinds of mainstream media.

Here's a couple threads where I have written more on the issue of productivity by organic vs petrochemical methods:



https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... ld+organic

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 10&t=59395

In fact, our current industrial agriculture methods of farming square mile monocultures with huge gasoline-fueled machinery, with ever increasing amounts of herbicidal and insecticidal poisons (which breed resistant super weeds and super bugs) and petroleum derived fertilizers is simply not sustainable. In the long run, the only way to feed the population will be through smaller scale, more sustainable methods. It would help though if we could gain control over runaway population growth. Feeding nine billion people is going to be difficult regardless of methods.

Oh and re labor intensive -- digital technologies and robots will be taking over more and more jobs (I just saw an article saying self-driving cars and trucks are already on the road. Uber is developing a whole fleet of self driving cars so they won't have to pay drivers and truck drivers will be put out of work by self driving trucks. That is only one of myriads of examples) So I'm not sure it is a bad thing if more workers get employed in agriculture.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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