David Hall

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since Jun 17, 2012
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Recent posts by David Hall

Rich adds an interesting point about blood meal. Blood meal is extraordinarily high in available nitrogen in the form of blood protein. When it gets wet the protein is decomposed immediately and can burn roots killing the plant. However, it is well known that grain type fertilizers are "slow release." I hate the terminology but we live with it. It actually releases to the microbes immediately but it takes 3 weeks of microbial processing for the protein in the grains to become plant food for the grass. But blood meal becomes available over night. If you want a quick shot of nitrogen, nothing is faster than blood. Obviously you don't want to kill your lawn, so if you decide to use blood meal, I would mix it thoroughly into the bag of corn gluten meal at a rate of 5-10 pounds of blood to a 50-pound bag of grain. Then apply the contents of the bag at a rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. That should dilute the effect of the blood on the roots. Then, immediately water the fertilizer in. What you do not want to have happen is the morning dew to be the first dilution of the blood meal. The dew does not have enough volume and will create a strong solution of blood that can backfire and kill the grass. Water to dilute the blood and wash it into the soil.
7 years ago
What kind of grass is your lawn? If that "weed" is in a new fescue lawn and spread that much, I'm thinking it is a form of bluegrass.
7 years ago
For one thing manure is not fertilizer. At best it is the raw material for compost. Pile it all up, mix it every now, keep it moist and then, and when it smells as fresh as a forest floor after a spring rain, then it is ready to apply. If you want to apply it to a lawn use no more than 1/4 inch at a time. That amounts to 1 cubic yard per 1,000 square feet. The reason for not applying more is you can very easily smother the grass. Only the blades sticking up out of the compost will survive. The other reason why not to use more is that you are basically wasting your time and getting your hopes up. Compost is not a fertilizer either. It has very little protein or nitrogen in it. In fact you have to use it at the rate mentioned to get enough nitrogen to do anything. The weight of a cubic yard is 700 pounds so you are using it at a rate of 700 pounds per 1,000 square feet. The much better solution is to apply something with a lot of protein in it. Protein is made of amino acids containing nitrogen. When the protein is "rotted" by the fungi and bacteria in the soil, that protein is decomposed into primal elements and recombined into plant food by the microbes. This is how Mother Nature has done it for billions of years. When you apply something like alfalfa pellets, ground corn, soy bean meal, cottonseed meal, or other ground up grains, nuts, seeds, and beans, then you only have to apply at a rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

Simply applying fertilizer to clover will not get rid of it, but it will improve the health of everything growing there. Whether your lawn can stomp out the clover is very iffy. I've been moderating several lawn forums for 10 years and am afraid to say that getting rid of clover organically is not as simple as fertilizing. The only non-chemical method I've heard of that works reliably is manual pulling. Even the run-of-the-mill chemical sprays don't work reliably. Ortho had to develop a stronger version of Weed-B-Gone, but I'm not going there.

On the other hand, many people have learned to live with a grass and clover mix. I know of a private golf course just north of Lake Erie that has a bentgrass/clover mix. They use no chemicals at all. No fertilizer either because the clover brings fertilizer to the soil. It is mowed only once a week on Friday in advance of the players showing up early Saturday. Greens are mowed to 1/4 inch and the fairways are mowed to 2 inches. Roughs are mowed to 3 inches. The greens are very firm but not rock solid like they were before when they used chemicals. All the players love the new course.

The problem with clover it it gets clumpy. If you seed the entire lawn with clover, it then looks very even and even plush.
7 years ago
I have resisted the notion that grass needs an extra heavy dose of nitrogen in the late fall; however, the evidence is going hard against me. The heavy dose in the late fall seems to carry the grass longer into the winter and bring it out of dormancy earlier in the spring. I've seen one lawn in Pennsylvania only remain dormant for a total of 2 months in 2 winters.

Certainly the easiest way to go is the CO state suggestion. If you want to try it with organics, then apply corn gluten meal at a rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet twice or three times in the late fall. Corn gluten meal has the highest protein content of all the organic fertilizers. Grain protein translates quickly into plant food (3 weeks).
7 years ago
I realize this thread is ancient but others might be looking for the answer. I have been using ordinary corn meal (NOT corn gluten meal) to control brown patch in St Augustine. I apply at a rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. It seems to work better if you reapply at the same rate after 3 weeks. Apply to the entire lawn so you don't end up chasing it around spot after spot. This will absolutely not work if you have already applied a chemical fertilizer.

Why does corn meal work?
The fungus that decomposes fresh corn meal attracts another fungus called Trichoderma (try ko DER mah). The Trichoderma is a predatory fungus that feeds on other fungi. When it finished feeding on the fungus decomposing the corn meal, it has multiplied in population greatly and goes out looking for other fungi. It finds the disease and wipes it out.

There are a few people whose opinion I respect who have not had the same luck with corn meal as I have. I'm working to figure out what the differences might be between their experience and mine.

Fungus in zoysia is a very serious problem. Once you get a fungus, it kills the surface turf. When that happens it can take 9 months before the zoysia returns. This is one reason you'll see a lot more St Augustine in the south than zoysia.
7 years ago
Chicken manure IS soil activator. It doesn't get more activated than using manure on soil. I don't recommend it alone, but that will certainly get things going.

I would focus on real organic fertilizer. I don't consider manure products to be fertilizer. Those are activators. Once you get the soil activated, then you need a real fertilizer containing lots of protein. The best ones are mostly grains like soybean meal, corn, alfalfa, and cottonseed meal. The lesser good ones are feather meal and manures. Feather meal has a lot of protein but it won't be available to the plants until the next ice age. Manure is just not a lasting fertilizer.
7 years ago
I'm not sure I understand all that's going on. Nutgrass is a swamp grass that only really thrives in continually moist soil. Kyllinga looks like nutgrass and will thrive in dry soil. Either way they are both hard to control. True nutgrass usually goes away for me especially in areas where I withhold water for a week or so to let the soil dry out.

St Augustine will thrive in the deep shade of your oaks - unless your oak limbs touch the ground. All that is lacking is water and fertilizer. Some of my best St Aug is under deep shade.

I suspect a general lack of good care. Water should be done once a week at about an inch at a time unless the grass dries out earlier. Then go for 1.5 inches at a time. Mulch mow every week at the mower's highest setting. There is never a time when St Aug should be mowed lower than the highest setting. Fertilize at least three times per year with a chemical fert or do what I do. I fertilize with organic fertilizers 5x per year. In FL you can use organics 12x per year if you like. It really (REALLY) improves the appearance.

7 years ago
It is not too late if you want to use an organic fertilizer. It is too late to use chemicals.

Fall is the time to renovate. Now would be a good time to learn the practice of good lawn care. I have a three-step outline for new people which expands a little on what Mr Wheaton states and even differs on some ideas. Here it is.

Basics of Lawn Care

After reading numerous books and magazines on lawn care, caring for lawns at seven houses in my life, and reading numerous forums where real people write in to discuss their successes and failures, I have decided to side with the real people and dispense with the book and magazine authors. I don't know what star their planet rotates around but it's not mine. With that in mind, here is the collected wisdom of the Internet savvy homeowners and lawn care professionals summarized in a few words. If you follow the advice here you will have conquered at least 50% of all lawn problems. Once you have these three elements mastered, then you can worry about weeds (if you have any), dog spots, and striping your lawn. But if you are not doing these three things, they will be the first three things suggested for you to correct.

Watering
Water deeply and infrequently. Deeply means at least an inch in every zone, all at once. Infrequently means monthly during the cool months and no more than weekly during the hottest part of summer. Do not spread this out and water for 10 minutes every day. If your grass looks dry before the month/week is up, water longer next time. If that does not work, then you might have to water more than once per week during the summer's hottest period. Deep watering grows deep, drought resistant roots. Infrequent watering allows the top layer of soil to dry completely which kills off many shallow rooted weeds.

You will have to learn to judge when to water your own lawn. If you live in Las Vegas your watering will be different than if you live in Vermont. Adjust your watering to your type of grass, humidity, wind, and soil type. It is worth noting that this technique is used successfully by professionals in Phoenix, so...just sayin.' The other factors make a difference. If you normally water 1 inch per week and you get 1/2 inch of rain, then adjust and water only 1/2 inch that week.

Mowing
Every week mulch mow at the highest setting on your mower. Most grasses are the most dense when mowed tall. However, bermuda, centipede, and bent grasses will become the most dense when they are mowed at the lowest setting on your mower. In fact there are special mowers that can mow these grasses down to 1/16 inch. Dense grass shades out weeds, keeps the soil cooler, and uses less water than thin grass. Tall grass can feed the deep roots you developed in #1 above. Tall grass does not grow faster than short grass nor does it look shaggy sooner. Once all your grass is at the same height, tall grass just looks plush.

Fertilizing
Fertilize regularly. I fertilize 5 times per year using organic fertilizer. Which fertilizer you use is much less important than numbers 1 and 2 above. Follow the directions on the bag and do not overdo it. Too little is better than too much. At this point you do not have to worry about weed and feed products - remember at this point you are just trying to grow grass, not perfect it. Besides once you are doing these three things correctly, your weed problems should go away without herbicide.



Having said that, I have never used a real organic fertilizer. What I am using this season is alfalfa pellets (rabbit chow) from the feed store. Apply at 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet as often as you can afford it. Three times is probably minimum.

7 years ago