Saturday, November 19, 2016

2016 Lawn Additons

I just came in from winterizing the lawn. Although temperatures are nearly seventy out there, we're forecast for a thirty degree drop this evening with snow and sleet.  Tonight seems to mark the end of the growing season, and if not, I can always cheat and nudge a little extra nitrogen onto the lawn in December if I have to.  I used urea to winterize as I found a very inexpensive source ($15 for 50 pounds).

This year's heavy hitter was soybean meal, as usual, with some corn early in the season.  We're in the midst of a moderate drought and have been for months, so fungal and disease issues weren't a problem at all this season.

I did spray ferrous sulfate yesterday, which has noticeably enhanced the color on the lawn.  Given the long period it was dormant this summer, I'd like to keep as much of the lawn active as far into the winter as possible.

Date N P K Iron Organics Other Notes
5/16/2016 1.21 0.60 0.19 0.00 25.0 Soybean Meal, Cracked Corn
8/1/2016 1.05 0.30 0.15 0.00 15.0 Soybean Meal
9/1/2016 0.88 0.26 0.13 0.00 12.5 Soybean Meal
10/1/20161.34 0.26 0.13 0.00 12.5 Soybean Meal, Urea
11/19/2016 1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.0Urea

Total per K ft:    5.48     1.18     0.60     0.00     65.0     650.0 active organic total  

Friday, November 18, 2016

Liming and Fertilizing

Another Dear Reader question:  "Can you lime and fertilize at the same time?"

The short answer is no.  The lime will tend to deactivate most commercial fertilizers and render them inactive much faster than they otherwise would be.

The longer answer is, it depends.  Fertilizing organically, there's no problem and you can mix the two.  Even synthetically, immediately watering in the mix with at least a quarter inch of irrigation (or timing it just before rainfall) will tend to limit the problems.  Or, if you choose a fertilizer that doesn't use urea or ammonium-based products, you don't even have to water it in immediately.

Some fertilizers can even function as lime, such as calcium nitrate.  They do tend to be expensive, but it's another example of an exception to the no fertilizer and lime rule.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mid-November Photos

Rainfall is still scant, but with temperatures dropping that matters a bit less.  The remaining plants are able to work with it.  Although temperatures aren't dropping nearly as much as they normally would, with highs still in the sixties today.  There are a few tolerant flowers still blooming in the gardens, and the lawn is acting as though it were mid October.

The unusual weather is setting off some spectacular sunsets, as pictured below.  I caught the roof of the house behind us in the photo.

A few minutes later, the image was no less spectacular, but a bit dimmer.

Earlier that day, the lawn was doing very well.  There's no comparison between ours and the neighbors' lawns, which are paling out rapidly.

This is the remaining garden, with only a few blue salvia ("Rhea") remaining in bloom at this point.  The orange fruit is from an Easter Egg plant, which I tend to throw into the gardens for the animals.  And the animals are Casey (the larger) and Riley (the smaller), who are very interested in the lilac where a rabbit had been sitting some time before.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Late October Photos

The grass is recovering very well, although the rainfall levels are still very trim.  We finally received a quarter inch of rain last night, which is enough that I can mow today.  Temperatures also dropped from the low 80's to the low 60's.  That's still warmer than normal, but cool enough to work with.

The gardens are well past their prime and will start being removed wholesale this week.  We're also projected for a light freeze this week, which will kill the vast majority of the remaining greenery.  I included photos below only because it's amazing to still have a blooming garden in any capacity in late October.

The standard lawn photo.  The color is finally restoring to darker green (helped by a very small amount of iron) and the problem areas are filling in nicely.  What hasn't yet filled in will need to wait until spring.


The new cable box installation by RCN Cable.  When installed, this was canted twenty degrees, and they had broken the mower guide wire that I had specifically notified them was present.  They had promised not to break it.  Fortunately, they missed destroying the irrigation system by about a tenth of an inch.  Complaints were met with a completely uncaring response, including the supervisor, so RCN will never have me as their customer.

Note to RCN:  I will not approve commentary from your customer service agents.  It will be deleted.  I have repaired the wire--as I told you I would do as I don't trust you on my property again--adjusted the box as well as I could from the top, and am repairing the lawn damage.  Just go away.

I'll plant a rose garden around there, plus a few hydrangea. I have the roses cloning in my office now.


The garden section close to the house in the back.  While worn, this isn't doing too badly and will probably be the last section removed after it finally dies.


A section just to the left of the above, somewhat further from the house.  This has seen better days, but still looks OK.  Or at least the red and blue salvia do, most of the other plants have visibly faded.


The dahlia by the front door is doing fairly well.  Please pardon the mess, a nest of swifts lives above the doorway and they never clean up...


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.