Monday, November 23, 2009

Final Fertilizer for the Lawn

I winterized the lawn today using Vigoro Super Green (35-0-5). It has a urea base, and about 1/3 of the nitrogen is slow release. As such, although temperatures are a bit high, it needs to go now. Urea needs several days to process in the soil before thinking about becoming available to the lawn, and by the time that happens our temperatures are projected to drop sharply.

Here's the entire list of items used on the lawn this year. Yes, the final total across the whole lawn is over 9,000 pounds...

Date N P K Iron Organics Other Notes
2/18/2009 0.85 0.43 0.43
42.7 Dog Food
3/1/2009 1.03 0.41 0.31 0.82 20.6 Milorganite, Sul-Po-Mag
3/14/2009 0.35 0.14 0.29
20.0 Alfalfa, Sugar
3/21/2009 1.38 0.54 0.33
83.3 Corn Meal
3/28/2009 0.10 0.00 0.20
10.0 Kelp Meal
4/4/2009 1.50 0.21 0.43
21.4 Soybean Meal
4/18/2009 0.14 0.06 0.06
7.8 Dog Food, Corn Meal
4/21/2009 1.71 0.61 0.17 1.97 30.9 Milorganite, Ironite
4/30/2009 0.70 0.24 0.10 0.93 12.0 Milorganite, Ironite
5/15/2009 1.47 0.48 0.27 2.16 24.0 Milorganite, Ironite
5/29/2009 0.82 0.23 0.12
11.7 Soybean Meal
6/3/2009 0.75 0.30 0.00 0.71 15.0 Cu, Zn, Mn, Fe, Milorganite
6/10/2009 0.91 0.34 0.36 1.80 58.3 Corn Meal, Kelp, FeSO4
6/25/2009 0.90 0.36 0.00 0.72 18.0 Milorganite
7/8/2009 1.73 0.69 0.20 1.32 68.0 Corn, Milorganite, FeSO4
7/22/2009 1.62 0.52 0.16 0.42 26.0 Soybean meal, Milorganite
7/31/2009 1.41 0.54 0.34 0.41 67.4 Corn, Milorganite, Kelp
8/8/2009 1.86 0.71 0.23 0.72 83.0 Corn, Milorganite, Compost
8/15/2009 0.83 0.30 0.20 0.21 50.0 Corn, Fe3O4, FeSO4
8/23/2009 1.97 1.36 0.36 0.41 62.3 Corn, Milorganite, Starter
9/1/2009 2.13 1.29 0.28 0.34 21.4 Soybean Meal, Starter
9/13/2009 2.06 1.27 0.41 0.25 21.4 Soybean Meal, Starter
9/26/2009 1.51 1.30 0.24 0.63 15.4 Milorganite, Starter
10/6/2009 0.77 0.31 0.00 0.62 15.4 Milorganite
10/14/2009 1.36 0.98 0.11 0.72 18.0 Milorganite, Starter
10/22/2009 0.77 0.31 0.00 0.62 15.4 Milorganite
10/29/2009 1.47 0.75 0.38 0.72 18.0 Milorganite, Starter
11/12/2009 0.90 0.36 0.00 0.72 18.0 Milorganite
11/17/2009 2.45 1.07 0.46 0.33 306.4 Leaves 2,145 pounds
11/23/2009 1.35 0.00 0.19 0.00 0.0 Vigoro Super Green

Total per K ft: 36.80 16.11 6.64 17.55 1179.8 9087 active organic total

Final Fertilizer for the Gardens

I put down 108 pounds of Milorganite today to increase the organic levels (54 pounds per thousand). That's the last feeding for the garden.

Here's the entire list of what's gone down this year:

Date N P K Iron Organics Notes
2/21/2009 0.90 0.36 0.00 0.72 18.0 Milorganite
3/7/2009 1.61 0.23 0.46 23.0 Soybean Meal
3/21/2009 0.41 0.16 0.10 25.0 Corn Meal
3/28/2009 0.73 0.25 0.83 35.0 Alfalfa, Kelp
4/4/2009 1.65 0.23 0.47 23.5 Soybean Meal
4/21/2009 1.50 0.60 0.00 1.20 30.5 Milorganite
5/30/2009 0.88 0.25 0.00 12.5 Soybean Meal
6/25/2009 0.90 0.36 0.00 0.72 18.0 Milorganite
7/20/2009 1.40 0.40 0.20 20.0 Soybean Meal
8/3/2009 0.90 0.36 0.00 0.72 18.0 Milorganite
9/13/2009 3.15 2.39 0.60 25.0 Starter, Soybean Meal
10/10/2009 3.20 2.61 0.35 1.44 36.0 Starter, Milorganite
10/26/2009 1.62 2.16 1.08 0.00 Starter
11/11/2009 3.15 2.52 0.90 1.44 36.0 Starter, Milorganite
11/23/2009 2.70 1.08 0.00 2.16 54.0 Milorganite
Total per K ft: 24.70 13.96 4.99 8.40 375.5 751 active organic total

Monday, November 16, 2009

Still More Leaves

I've finished the lawn--with 2,000 pounds of leaves in 97 bags, or a cube 8 feet on a side (and a bit).

Any remaining stock will go to increasing the leaf mulch on the drier southern face, plus repairing the soil in the areas the Township damaged and still hasn't fixed (on day 12 and still going!)

However, any remaining stock is going to be limited. Last weekend's storm took down most of the remaining leaves, and I expect about 20 more bags before the end of leaf season.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Last of the Milorganite

For the season, anyway! I put down 108 pounds over 6,000 square feet (about 18 pounds per thousand), and went heavily through the Township-damaged areas. I'll follow up with photos of those when I can face them...

Normally I'd publish my entire year of organic additions, but I'll hold off until the leaves are done. I'm still importing them at a fairly high rate.

The Winterizer is yet to go, but that has to wait for soil temperatures to fall under 40. So far, that looks like it won't happen for some time yet.

More Leaves

I've applied around 1,750 pounds of leaves to the lawn and I'm close to 80% complete at this point. The first areas of application are already invisible even applying at nearly 300 pounds per thousand. After a short period, the leaf litter breaks down into black organic matter that's invisible on the soil.

My current estimate is around 2,000 pounds of leaves (a full ton!) to complete the property. That should raise organic matter about half a percent in the soil.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Roses in November! Bonus Photo!

I put in a Double Knockout rose in the back, and performance so far has been spectacular. I was careful to organically prepare the soil with two handfuls of cracked corn and two handfuls of alfalfa hay while planting, plus I've applied Milorganite, soybean meal, and large amounts of additional alfalfa throughout the season. For some reason, roses seem to love alfalfa. I also spray the bush and surrounding soil with liquid iron, kelp extract, and a small amount of humic acid.

This rose opened November first. Today is the fourth, we've had six or seven frosts, and the rosebush just keeps blooming. There are fifty more on the bush that look just like this...and no, I did absolutely no touching up of this image.

Mulching Leaves on Your Lawn

In the past few weeks I've tapped two other properties of leaves to add to my own--with permission, of course. Both are kind enough to bag the leaves for me so I don't have to do it, and I'd like to extend my thanks (you know who you are).

So far, I've finished around 60% of the lawn and applied approximately 1,200 pounds of leaves (with some cut grass in the bags as well). I'll require a total of 1 ton of leaves, which works out to 285 pounds per thousand square feet.

So what do leaves do? They raise the organic matter percentage in the soil, provide fall food for your worms and micro-arthropods living in your soil, encourage bacterial and fungal activity in the soil, and mulch the soil for winter. Lawns that have been leaf mulched will retain their green color further into winter, green up faster in spring, and generally show greater health than lawns that receive no mulching.

How much should you use? Close to 300 pounds per thousand square feet disappears into the grass in a few days if well-chopped, but applications certainly do not have to be made at that rate. This study shows the results of mulching 150 to 450 pounds of leaves into the soil, and effects are generally excellent.

But isn't leaf litter ugly? Well, yes. The above study states that leaf litter at the highest application resulted in leaves still left on the lawn in spring. However, if you have a rotary mower it becomes easy to render the leaves invisible. With the very large amount I'm using, I mow slowly four times over the area to reduce the leaves to bits smaller than the nail on my pinky (and I have small hands!) By the time I complete the task, almost no visible litter remains--99% has fallen into the grass and becomes invisible. The remaining 1% disappears with the next rainfall.

What's the NPK ratio of leaves? Don't worry about it. Trees extract almost all the chlorophyll and nitrogen and place it in root storage for the winter. There is a small amount of phosphorus in the leaves, so mulching them is better than allowing rainwater to percolate through them while they sit on the street (my other post from today mentions eutrophication; leaves are one source of phosphorus that enters our waterways). Potassium levels are fairly low. The reason leaves are mulched isn't to feed the lawn but instead to provide additional organic material for the soil.

I've Been Busy

Whew, sorry for the posting delay! I've applied 2 more applications of starter fertilizer, bringing my calculated phosphorus amount to 25 PPM. If that's correct, even at the pH of the lawn soil (7.2), I'm exactly at optimal phosphorus levels.

Please note that starter fertilizer should only be added after a soil test that shows you need it. Excess phosphorus can leach into water sources, causing eutrophication of lakes and streams. Eutrophication means that algae growth increases, oxygen levels in the water drop because of bacterial action, and fish have a difficult time surviving.

Many soils have sufficient phosphorus levels and won't require enhancement. Mine, however, did not. The lawn density has increased amazingly from rebalancing the soil for the final time this year and I'll be certain to take photos.

I've also applied Milorganite four times for a total of around 400 pounds, or approximately 60 pounds per thousand. That should help raise the organic matter tests for next year, as well as increase the iron above the 1.4 PPM test. However, the soils are still visibly iron-short and require spray applications to maintain color--I prefer Bonide #299, but any iron source will do.

I've also mulched large amounts of leaves into the lawn, but if you read the other post from today you already know that.