Monday, March 24, 2008

Inflation Stinks

My parents went to Albright's Mill in Kempton today for their soybean meal and picked up seven 50-lb bags for me at the same time. This year's price was $13.25, up from $9.80 last year.

For those of you keeping track at home, that's a 35% increase. In one year.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring Maintenance

The weather is still warming but not exactly what I'd call springlike yet. I replanted two Black Knight butterfly bushes that had frost-heaved out this month, plus applied 39 and a bit more pounds of Milorganite to the lawn to keep that from smelling up the garage.

The grass is coming back, but it hasn't yet grown over the old, dead blades from last year. It won't be long before it does that, however.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The weather is holding around 50° during the day, so the grass is just starting to awaken (about two weeks earlier than last year). I haven't bothered with a photo just yet--you do have to look very closely to see the change.

It appears that the Bedazzled is back the earliest, with the Midnight II and Moonlight lagging somewhat behind.

For Posterity's sake, I'll mention that the crocus are well up but not yet budding, the jonquil are well underway, the daffodil are started, and the tulips just breaking ground. Those are also well ahead of schedule.

Here's hoping we don't get a long icy period.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Kelp Meal

The first fifty pounds of kelp meal went down today. I'll schedule the next fifty for next month some time or a bit later, depending on how the grass looks.

All things considered, at around 1-0-2, I added almost no nutrients. The primary use of kelp is for organic material in the lawn and to add a wide variety of trace elements.

The stuff stinks. I smell a bit like a rotted shrimp. I did wash thoroughly with a perfumed soap, so I now smell like a rotted shrimp...wearing perfume. The next time I do this I'll change clothes immediately.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A March Reference Photo

Here's a quick reference photo of what the lawn looks like right now. Or, not very good all things considered, but not bad for early March. Most of the top dead material will fall through and disappear into the grass as it re-grows.


As always, click to embiggen. :-)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

An Online Question

One of my readers writes:

Q: Sodfather, hello from Northern Virginia. I did a total front yard restoration last fall. I removed the sod with a sod cutter, did a little tilling of the soil and then brought in several yards of top soil. I seeded with pure Midnight. I have full sun in the day and an irrigation system. The grass took 4 weeks to come up but stopped growing around November. My question would be; do you recommend overseeding now? I am about to purchase more seed. Should I buy some Bedazzled or stick with the midnight? What are your recommendations for feeding and when? I feel the grass needs to be thicker and understand KBG will fill in but I want to give it a jump start.

A: I'm not an expert in northern Virginia, but it's probably close enough for me to wing it. My restoration was last year, too, about the same time and mine stopped growing in mid-November.

You can overseed now if you like, although spring seeding always takes more poorly than fall does. Adding another cultivar would add more resiliency in case of disease or insect problems, but you'll find that Midnight is a pretty hardy grass to begin with and doesn't have too many issues.

Bedazzled is excellent, but you'll find it's a slightly lighter green. If you're looking to add a high note of color in the lawn, it's perfect. If you want a darker color, try Moonlight.

Feeding is the most important part (well, proper watering and mowing are actually more imporant, but I'm assuming you're somewhere in that range). For an organic feeding, feed at any time between now and May. For synthetics like Scott's, hold off until May. Spring grasses grow roots more than blades, so you want to encourage that. High nitrogen feeds force the growth up top. Organics, which are much more balanced, tend not to.

I just dumped 15 lbs per thousand square feet of alfalfa (mostly) meal on the lawn, and I'll feed with 12 lbs per thousand of kelp meal yet this month (which has very little NPK, but a lot of minor elements).

The First Feed

I did see the question in comments and I'll answer it shortly--I got a bit sidetracked today.

First feeding of the lawn was this morning, on top of a quarter inch of snow (which melted by noon). I used 110 lbs of Mazuri chinchilla food which is primarily alfalfa. Unfortunately, alfalfa pellets are difficult to get around here.

All things considered, it's around 15 lbs per thousand square feet, or around 0.3 lbs of nitrogen. That should be just enough to get the grass started when it comes back.