Monday, October 25, 2010

Ferrous Ammonium Sulfate

...and some basic chemistry.

Thanks to Gary in Chicago and some chemical calculations, the lawn has darkened considerably (even more than before):

Grass Comparison 10.22.2010

You can make your own ferrous ammonium sulfate very easily from two separate chemicals:  ferrous sulfate and ammonium sulfate.

I have some rough measurements and calculations that work for me.  The solution should be relatively close to equimolar (containing an equal number of moles of each chemical.  A mole is around 6 × 1023 molecules, but as long as the molecule count is the same, it doesn't matter how many there actually are).

Fortunately you don't need a very powerful magnifying glass and the ability to count to extremely high numbers!  A little basic chemistry will tell you that there are 151.91 grams of material in 1 mole of ferrous sulfate, 132.14 grams in a mole of ammonium sulfate.  As long as you use 1.15 times as much ferrous sulfate by weight as you do ammonium sulfate, the solution will be close to pure ferrous ammonium sulfate.

It isn't that critical to be precise, so a 1 to 1 ratio is more than good enough.  Ammonium sulfate can strip some calcium from plants, so tilting the balance toward the ferrous sulfate is best--use more than 1.15 times the weight of ferrous sulfate as ammonium sulfate.

One thing to note is that this is by weight.  My ferrous sulfate doesn't seem to pack as well as the ammonium sulfate, so I require about twice as much by volume.  Your mileage will almost certainly differ.

Two to four ounces per thousand square feet in three gallons of water worked best for me.  Let it sit on the grass for 24 hours, then irrigate in well.  This solution should never be applied if temperatures will be over 80 degrees F.

With a good eye, you may notice a slight color change in an hour (I did).  However, if the lawn requires the iron, you'll certainly notice it within a day or two.  Color durability is much better than plain ferrous sulfate--post the next mow, I still saw very dark green color that hasn't faded at all.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Photo Update

Lawn performance has improved since the rains resumed at the end of September. I caught these shots today just before the next rainstorm comes through tomorrow.

The bit of cheating with synthetics I did seemed to increase the lawn density but never caused excessive top growth.

The standard shot. As always, sorry for the slightly blurry thumbnail--you can click the image to enlarge it, and click again on the image on PhotoBucket's site to enlarge it even further!
Lawn 10.13.2010

The gardens. Most of the marigolds have timed out and are gone for the season, but the salvia and celosia just keep going. The cannas aren't looking bad for October, either.
Back Garden 10.13.2010

Bonus image! An October rose, with its friends in the background. This rosebush, a Double Knockout, usually blooms through November.
Rose 10.13.2010