Friday, October 21, 2016

Organic Feedings Done

I dropped the last blast of soybean meal (identical to September's slightly lower amount) of 2 1/2 bags of soy, 125 pounds, over 10,000 square feet of lawn.

The drought continues, even today, although it's not severe.  We've been without significant rainfall for 12 days, and don't look to receive appreciable rain during the rest of October.  Consequently, I've been watering a bit, but the amounts are reduced since temperatures are no longer in the nineties.

Conversely, the gardens look incredible for mid-October.  The warmer than average weather has been very good for them, although they're noticeably aging and starting to die back just due to reduced sunlight and reaching the end of their lifespans.  I have photos on the docket for the weekend.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Soybean Meal Down

I dropped the soybean meal feeding for September this morning, early enough that I thought I'd be OK in terms of temperatures.  I managed to get a bit of heat stress, but that's another story.  Suffice to say, please be careful out there.  This year's late August weather is more like July.

Because of the excessive heat and near-total lack of rain, I doubt that August's feeding has fully incorporated yet.  Consequently, I cut back the September feeding to 2 1/2 bags of soy, 125 pounds, over 10,000 square feet of lawn.  While only about 0.88 pounds of nitrogen, there will be enough left from last month to make up the difference, and the lawn simply hasn't had enough water to be terribly active in terms of growth.

Still Hot and Dry, But...

Following an incredibly hot and rather dry July, August was not quite so hot, but just about as dry.  And unfortunately, there's not much relief in sight and no appreciable rainfall until at least September 15th.

Consequently, the grass is not particularly attractive at this moment and portions are dormant, while the remainder is very, very dry.

On the up side, I had planned for a hot and dry summer and planted the gardens appropriately.  Those are doing amazingly well, and only require watering once or twice a week if it doesn't rain.  For the most part, it hasn't rained.

This is the north face shot, including some "red" marigolds (that tend to be orange and haven't performed all that well), plus Inca II gold marigolds, and yellow Profusion zinnia.  Sticking up in there are some blue Rhea salvia, red salvia, and the remnants of one white cosmos.

The southwest face.  The magenta flowers are Madagascar periwinkle, which strongly prefer hot and fairly dry conditions.  Those have done well this year, but they're comparatively difficult to raise from seed.  The leaves on the Easter Egg plant are a bit curled in the heat (it's currently 96° in the gardens), but those will plump back up as the sun sets.

These Moonstruck deep orange marigolds were done as a trial this year.  They're such perfect flowers on perfect plants that they'll be replacing a lot of the orange zinnia.

While unimpressive en masse, the cherry Profusion zinnia occasionally throw a more saturated set of blossoms.  These have made friends with an Inca II Gold marigold bud, and the two are growing into each other very happily.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Happy Solar Fall!

Technically, that was yesterday.  Solar fall is the twelve weeks of the year, from August 5th through November 5th, when the day length changes most quickly downward, so the days are getting shorter at the fastest rate.

It's not a terribly significant date or event in terms of your lawn and gardens, although flowering plants that prefer shorter days will begin to produce more heavily.  To most plants and your lawn, it's still summer, and it's going to be summer for some time yet!

Another Dry Spell

We ended July fairly strongly with more than two inches of rainfall in a few days, and that brought the grass back beautifully.  Not to mention that we went from D1 on the drought monitor to no longer abnormally dry.

However, it looks like we're due for at least one more week of dry, hot weather before it potentially changes again.

The only solution to that would be to water, which I've chosen not to do this year, and I'm not going to start now.  The grass that didn't come out of dormancy will be fine.  The parts that were merely very dry and recovered will return to being very dry.  The lawn will make it through without any issues.

While fescue and rye lawns might need a bit of watering if dry spells go on for too long, bluegrass is very tolerant of receiving 1/4" of rain every two weeks.  That will be just enough to keep the roots alive, and we've far exceeded that during every two week period.

The gardens, of course, will be watered as necessary, but generally only require water every four or five days.  The plants I chose this year tend to be fairly tolerant of dry soil.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

2016 Garden Additions

While it's very early, the garden additions are essentially complete for the year as there are no major (or minor) feedings remaining that would be recorded here.

One major change is that I've discontinued the use of Miracle Gro in the garden and begun to make my own out of urea, monoammonium phosphate, and potassium sulfate.  Those are not recorded in the table below, and I add a small amount to the fertigation system weekly.  Generally I note these in my gardening log, but don't record them in the tables as the number of rows would rapidly become prohibitive and hard to read.

Organic additions fell a bit this year, but were still comparable to 2015.  These levels are more than enough to adequately feed a flower garden.  I do need to take photos as the gardens are just about at their peak and should remain there through Labor Day or later.

Date N P K Iron Organics Other Notes
3/10/20160.28 1.30 0.000.00 0.00 Monoammonium Phosphate
5/14/2016 1.32 0.30 0.25 0.36 21.5 Milorganite, Soybean Meal
6/1/20161.32 0.30 0.25 0.36 21.5 Milorganite, Soybean Meal
7/1/2016 1.32 0.30 0.25 0.36 21.5 Milorganite, Soybean Meal
8/1/2016 1.32 0.30 0.25 0.36 21.5 Milorganite, Soybean Meal

Total per K ft:    5.56     2.50     1.00     1.44     86.0     172.0 active organic total  

Monday, July 18, 2016

It's Been Too Long!

I've been extremely busy, so this blog has gone by the wayside this year.  Not that there's much to report, however.  We're in a drought watch (the lowest level and not really a drought yet), but the lawn is dormant and temperatures are too high to bother trying to keep it awake.

The gardens are doing very well, so I've highlighted some of the better images below.

A rarity this season, but we did get a double rainbow tonight as a series of storms rolled through and dropped over an inch of rain!  That almost doubles our total so far for July, and might restore the grass a little bit.

This is immediately post-storm and I haven't swept the mulch back into the garden.  Still, you can see these are doing well.

A Madagascar periwinkle.  Although gorgeous, these are difficult to start, slow to grow, and don't really show off well until July.  They probably won't appear in the garden again, except via volunteers.

An Inca II Gold marigold.  These are 3-4" puffballs on 12" plants, and very showy. They'll definitely find homes again next year, and will partially replace the zinnia to cover the yellow part of the spectrum.  I still have to see performance in August and September, but so far these started strong right out of the gate and just kept getting better.

Friday, January 15, 2016

An Early Start

The summer garden plants are getting a bit of an early start this year.  After rampant fungus issues in the gardens last year, I've cut the zinnia to give the soil a year to rest and get rid of the disease spores, at least a little.

One of the replacement flowers is annual vinca.

Those need to start about four months before planting, which is exactly today.  So I have most of a flat planted and on the warmer.  I chose both Jaio and Pacifica vinca, in the red ranges.

Friday, November 27, 2015

2015 Lawn Additons

This year's lawn additions didn't differ too much from last year, except that I had sufficient fertilizer on-hand to winterize correctly.

This year's heavy hitter was soybean meal, as usual, and I skipped the corn application.  That turned out to be a slight mistake as the summer resulted in small amounts of brown patch.  In the future, I'll make sure to use it.

The ferrous sulfate resulted in a bit of color enhancement for late in the season.  It's subtle, but my soil iron levels can always use the help.

The Vigoro Super Green has a bit more slow release nitrogen than I generally recommend, but I'm seeing a very mild winter coming.

Date N P K Iron Organics Other Notes
5/9/2015 1.05 0.30 0.15 0.00 15.0 Soybean Meal
8/1/2015 1.05 0.30 0.15 0.00 15.0 Soybean Meal
9/1/2015 1.05 0.30 0.15 0.00 15.0 Soybean Meal
10/1/2015 1.05 0.30 0.15 0.00 15.0 Soybean Meal
11/11/2015 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.50 0.0 Ferrous Sulfate Monohydrate
11/25/2015 1.33 0.00 0.19 0.19 0.0 Vigoro Super Green

Total per K ft:    5.53     1.20    0.79     1.69     60.0     600.0 active organic total  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

October Soybean Meal Down

I snuck some time late this afternoon and got the October application of soybean meal down.  Like last month, it was just a hair early, but if it had rained just as I finished I'd only be off schedule by seven hours.  Rain isn't expected until late tonight or tomorrow.

This application should become available around October 20th, depending on the weather, and will gently feed the lawn through the remainder of the season.

This is the last organic feeding of the year.  The only remaining application will be winterization, which will generally be around Thanksgiving.  At some point after that, I'll post the complete list of 2015 lawn applications.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Kelp, Humic Acid, Prodiamine Down!

I also put down the soil conditioner, but that wouldn't fit easily in the headline!

As of today, I've applied the remaining dose of Prodiamine, 0.33 tablespoons per thousand square feet, to bring myself up close to 1.5 tablespoons per thousand this year.  The old April-applied shield is calculated to drop in early October, so this will carry me through late November.  Post that, sprouting weeds aren't generally of much concern, if any.

We're expecting modest amounts of rain in the next three days, so this won't need to be watered in.

Since I was already hauling out the hose-end sprayer, I also applied a little over 3 ounces each of kelp extract, humic (and fulvic) acid, and soil conditioner (6% sodium lauryl sulfate in water).

The kelp is supposed to gently encourage root growth, supply trace minerals, and supply tiny amounts of micronutrients and macronutrients.  In practice, it does seem to improve the lawn a bit, and the gardens moderately.

Humic acid is supposedly a good feed for the soil fungi, adds a tiny touch of organic matter, and will raise the soil's exchange capacity just the tiniest hair.  In practice, I can't say I see much effect one way or the other, but I have plenty on-hand so I use it.

The soil conditioner is sodium lauryl sulfate (6%) diluted in water.  Use of a few ounces per thousand square feet really does soften the soil and increase water infiltration.  I've conditioned the soil so well and added so much organic material that one or two applications per year are all that's required, but I do use more in the gardens to function as a surfactant for the kelp and anything else I need to have stick to the leaves.

Applications of all three (kelp, humic acid, and soil conditioner) can theoretically be done up to monthly at 2 to 4 ounces per thousand square feet.  My kelp and soil conditioner usage in the garden generally exceeds that, but with watering well, buildup is extremely unlikely to occur.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Breaking The One Third Rule

The One Third Rule:  Always mow your lawn before it's half again the normal mow height--so that you never mow off more than one third of the blade.

The mower is currently out on the north face, mowing away, and blatantly breaking the one third rule.  This time, it's more like the one half rule or even a touch more.  The grass is pushing six inches easily.

However, we're now on Day 12 without any appreciable rain (Day 9 with no rain at all), and temperatures holding in the mid seventies to mid eighties.  Mowing under those conditions would have invited a burn.

I've spent the last three evenings watering, so the ground is now moist and more normal rainfall is expected next week and the week following.

In this instance, I don't expect any serious side effects, although the grass' growth will slow temporarily while it recovers from the shock.  In late September, in tolerable weather, and on freshly irrigated soil, the shock should be minimal.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

2015 Garden Additions

It's very early for me to be posting this, but I've finished with all garden additions for the year that will be recorded on the chart.  There's still a modest amount of calcitic lime to be applied in October when the plants are removed, but that won't supply any of the major nutrients and won't be placed on the chart.

The corn meal in late August was to fight alternaria blight, and it worked very well.  Although I lost wide swatches of zinnia, I had plenty of surviving volunteers to replant the open areas.  Those new zinnia are now starting to blossom.

Overall, levels of organic feeding rose this year, not quite doubling last year's totals.  I find that the garden does better when fed a bit more heavily.

N, P, K, iron, and organics are the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and organic mass per thousand square feet, in pounds.  The notes indicate what was used, except for the total line, where it tells you the total organic poundage used through the garden that year.

Date N P K Iron Organics Other Notes
5/5/2015 1.32 0.30 0.25 0.36 21.5 Milorganite, Soybean Meal
6/3/2015 1.32 0.30 0.25 0.36 21.5 Milorganite, Soybean Meal
7/1/2015 2.22 0.66 0.25 1.08 39.5 Milorganite, Soybean Meal
8/1/2015 1.32 0.30 0.25 0.36 21.5 Milorganite, Soybean Meal
8/26/2015 0.10 0.04 0.02 0.00 6.0 Corn Meal

Total per K ft:    6.28    1.60    1.02    2.16    110.0    220.0 active organic total  

Monday, August 31, 2015

September Soybean Meal

I had time today, so I already dropped the September soybean meal at 15 pounds per thousand square feet.  Sure, it's a hair early, but even if it rained right now I'd only have jumped the gun by a bit over 12 hours.

It doesn't look as though this will water in until later this week.

The August feeding darkened the lawn noticeably, but the lack of rain has taken a slight toll.  I need to take photos of the lawn.  All things considered, it looks pretty good.

After this, there's one more organic feeding on October 1st or so, followed by a synthetic feeding for winterization when the grass ceases growth but is still green.  That's usually around Thanksgiving.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Few Good Questions

Dear Reader questions recently include:

How long does Milorganite take to work?  --I've answered this before, but it bears repeating.  It's about three weeks to full effect, assuming decent rainfall and tolerably good soil.  Milorganite does contain some fast nitrogen, so you may certainly notice some impact on your lawn or gardens much faster than that.

However, Milorganite does not generally work quickly, and several applications may be necessary to build the biology and protein levels to a point where sustained, good effects are apparent.

Can you combine Milorganite and blood meal?  --Yes, but be a bit careful.  Milorganite has 40% or so fast nitrogen, which can burn plants when combined with blood meal's very high and very strong levels of fast nitrogen.  I'd probably separate applications of the two, or use the blood meal at very low levels.

What's the comparison of lime vs. Milorganite?  --There's actually no comparison.  Lime is either dolomitic (magnesium plus calcium) or calcitic (calcium only with very little or no magnesium).  Lime raises calcium (and magnesium in the case of dolomite) levels in the soil, usually raising the pH of the soil.

Milorganite is a feeding, although it does contain about 1% calcium as well.  Overall, any pH change of the soil should be minimal to slightly acidic, and it won't appreciably raise calcium levels at normal usage.