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Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

Posted by danielj_2009 6 (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 21, 14 at 18:32

Yeah! That Logan Labs is really fast!

I was hoping to read a book that covers everything about proper lawn care, but apparently you guys haven't written it yet. So I now understand the basics of how to do it right, but there is much I still don't understand. I have another thread called Sod: How Green is Green, but it has gotten very long, and so I wanted to use this thread as a guide for me to keep my lawn going in the right direction.

Recap:
Property has been around for 60+ years, but in fall of 2013, well after house rebuild was complete, we finally started landscaping. This required a regrading of the property with heavy equipment, upsetting anything that was there before, which was mostly weeds and poorly kept grass. The landscaper incorporated topsoil into the existing turf, which was killed off and tilled under. The front yard was KBG sodded and the back was seeded with a standard mix for northern NJ.

Front Yard:
Front Yard photo 20140721_170709_zps95ce7066.jpg

Back Yard:
Back Yard photo 20140721_170750_zpsa246fcb8.jpg

My New Weed Control Technician, Maurice:
Weed Control photo 2014-07-21170555_zpsbcb03b2a.jpg

Logan Labs Results:
 photo SoilTest_zps9e59d616.jpg

It is not surprising to me that the back yard results are not as good in some areas as the front yard. There are two probable reasons: 1) the back yard had more aggressive excavation of dirt for the new basement and also during removal of a massive tree, and 2) some of the rich soil from the sod farm was included in the front yard sample.

I have been generating a lot of questions, but instead of shotgunning a bunch of question, maybe morpeus, dchall or anyone else interested could interpret my lab results and give me a point in the right direction.

Thanks so much!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

>>Yeah! That Logan Labs is really fast!

Toldja so. :-)

>>Logan Labs Results:

I hate you. :-)

For starter results, these are extraordinarily good. There's some work to do, there always is, but this is not an uphill battle. Like I said from your initial photo, I didn't think you had a severe problem, but I never imagined it would be this close to perfect.

Let's begin at the beginning with full explanations since you've shown interest.

CEC 10.0 / 9.3: Combine this with your organic matter percentages and it says a sandy silt or silty sand (more likely the latter). This hovers very near the most workable range of 10-20, so no problems here. Your soil holds decent amounts of resources but is pretty easy to change if we want to.

pH: 6.1: Ignore. pH is not indicative of anything other than calcium, magnesium, potassium, hydrogen, and aluminum amounts. It's a symptom, not a cause, but people do expect to see it. If you set the other items correctly, the pH will naturally move toward its optimal point (normally 6.2 to 6.7 depending, but there are exceptions).

Organic matter 6.1 / 3.8: Excellent in the front, borderline good/fair in the back. OM varies from 0 to around 15%, and I consider anything above 6% excellent.

Consider organic treatments in the back with cracked corn for several years to bring that up. The front will benefit form it as well, of course, but if the budget won't stretch I'd rather see excess organics going into the back.

Always mulch mow every fall leaf. I've imported hundreds of bags worth from known-good lawns, spread, and mulch mowed in.

Sulfur 6 / 9: A touch trim, but nothing to worry about. One of my recommendations will add sulfur in a pH-neutral manner. I like to see 10-20 PPM minimum, 50 is OK but starting to push the top bracket.

Phosphorus 70-ish: Low. In recommendations below, I've recommended 3 bag rate apps of starter fertilizer (high second number, like 18-24-6 or 20-24-6) to raise this. 200 PPM is optimal for lawns and important for proper growth. P gets used in DNA structure, cell structure, enzyme production, and energy exchange (ADP/ATP energy reactions).

If you have gardens, apply it there as well, and you can start that process in July with no problems. Flower gardens prefer P levels near 1,000 (blooming is a phosphorus hog). Vegetable gardens prefer levels of 200 just like lawns.

** Now I jump around a bit. I don't care quite so much about the actual numbers for Ca, Mg, and K, I care more about the saturation percentages in the soil--but I still have to consider the numbers when doing the math, which I'll take care of behind the scenes for you. ***

Calcium 65.0 / 64.5: Almost exactly optimal, but I'd like to kick this up a little bit.

Encap or Mir-A-Cal or Mag-I-Cal (I always forget which name Jonathan Greene products is currently using) calcitic lime will fix this--NOT the cheap limestone, which is dolomitic (contains a lot of magnesium), very slow, and has stuff you neither need nor want as it'll toss off your Ca:Mg ratio.

Magnesium 13.0/13.3: Perfect. There's no need to adjust this (and if there were, I still wouldn't use dolomitic limestone--Epsom salts are faster and cheaper).

Potassium: 2.2 / 2.0: Technically OK as it won't cause too many problems right now, but this is going to fall off the cliff shortly (it's getting close in the back). Potassium is used in heat resistance, cold resistance, disease resistance, structure, water retention, and tons of enzymes and proteins.

Potassium sulfate can be a little tough to find, but most landscapers and specialty gardening stores can get it for you.

Sodium: 1.0 / 1.5: Fine. Sodium has limited use in plants, pretty much only for water retention. You don't want much and, in fact, as it approaches 3 it starts to become a toxin.

Hydrogen 13.5 / 13.5: This is the acidic part of your pH; hydrogen has no use to plant roots, and this is essentially the wasted part of your CEC. You do want some hydrogen, about 6% or so (give or take a lot), as resource absorption is optimal in a slightly acidic environment. My recommendations should toss out about half the hydrogen.

Trace elements, all except iron and boron: All in perfect range. Either your home was previously owned by a lawn nut, or you got luckier than you have any right to expect.

Iron 125-ish: Fine, but this won't produce the best color in most modern lawns. Use Milorganite several times per year to very, very slowly raise this. I have no specific target in mind, it's when the lawn color pleases you and doesn't fade out between Milorganite applications. For me, with elite KBG, that's happening around 300 PPM. KBG is an iron hog.

Boron 0.54 /0.54: Technically a little low, 0.7-0.8 is optimal. However, boron has a very, very fine line between optimal and toxic.

Personally? I'd adjust this as it's slightly impacting lawn quality (but not much). Apply 2 tablespoons of 20 Mule Team Borax per thousand square feet. 2 Tablespoons. Per thousand square feet. Do Not Screw That Up.

The easiest way to do this is to empty a bag of Milorganite into a wheelbarrow. Mix 5 Tbsp 20 Mule Team Borax into it, slightly dampening the Milo as you go with faint, rare sprays from a spray bottle. Keep mixing and damping until all the borax has adhered.

Put in spreader, spread over 2,500 square feet (exactly bag rate). Make very, very sure it's going down accurately.

Yes, I included a fair bit of wiggle room in my numbers above, so a "normal" mistake won't cause an issue. But I won't ever tell you how much wiggle room I just put in there.

Recommendations:

Early September: Apply starter fertilizer at bag rate.

Mid-September: Apply 3 pounds per thousand square feet of a good calcitic lime.

Late September: 2 Tbsp of 20 Mule Team Borax per thousand square feet if you wish to do so.

Early October: Apply starter fertilizer at bag rate.

Mid-October: Apply 2 pounds per thousand square feet of potassium sulfate.

Early May: Apply 2 pounds per thousand square feet of potassium sulfate.

Late May: Apply starter fertilizer at bag rate.

Mid June: Apply 2 pounds per thousand square feet of potassium sulfate.


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

morpheus: Whatsa matter? Cat got your tongue? :o) Wow, what a great report to receive! I'm going to take my time and go through all of that more carefully when I have a little bit more time. I just wanted to thank you for the excellent recommendations.

I definitely have some follow up questions... to come.

Thanks again!


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

...and THAT is why you spend $25 per sample to go to Logan Labs. It's a good thing you didn't have a lot of problems or morph might have had to write a long reply, heh, heh! It's kinda like getting a sip of water from a fire hose.

Of course that's what you would have thought just reading it yourself, right Dan! Uh, me neither!! Morph is one of few who has a mastery of the Logan Labs soil test. He gives you the interpretation, amendments, cautions, and caveats.

Really, don't screw up the boron. Excess boron is a poison to all living creatures. As an example, search Google Maps for Boron, California (home of 20-Mule Team Borax). Zoom in on the town and some of the lawns. They can't grow grass (or anything) for anything there.

Morph, Dan had his yard scraped and new soil brought in, so kudos to the landscaper to spec'ed the soil. He did it right.

Dan do you know if there was any KBG in the back yard seed? I would expect if there was that there would not be any thin areas. At the same time as I look over the color splotches in back, it seems to me there must be some KBG causing the light colors from, I'm assuming, partial dormancy. Do you know what you have? Because if there is no KBG, you will need to overseed the thin spots next month or early Sept. If you wanted to have KBG, I believe you could add it this fall. Morph could advise better on that. A little goes a long way to filling in the thin spots.

Also morph mentioned Milorganite but didn't include that in his recommendations. The proper time to apply that is anytime you want to. It doesn't interact with anything else, so whenever you remember, use it.


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

>>Whatsa matter? Cat got your tongue?

That was the short version. :-)

>>Really, don't screw up the boron. Excess boron is a poison to all living creatures.

This. Actually, boron is required in plant diets, and seems to be slightly favored in animal diets (rats that are completely denied boron develop normally, reproduce fine, and live long and healthy lives--they're just a little smaller on average than rats that have boron in their diet).

You needn't fear that the 20 Mule Team Borax will poison you under normal application. It won't, we're very tolerant of borax and ingested it's about as toxic as table salt (I doubt you could choke down that amount of borax to begin with).

And the remainder of the box can be used to make your wash-day whites whiter than white (or just saved for next year when the same prescription will probably be required; I only gave the soil a nudge because that's all it needs...but nudges tend to be required on boron as it leaches out in rainfall).

>>Also morph mentioned Milorganite but didn't include that in his recommendations. The proper time to apply that is anytime you want to. It doesn't interact with anything else, so whenever you remember, use it.

Pretty much. In addition to some nice organic material, it'll supply a secondary, very slow source of phosphorus.

Honestly? The limiter in this lawn from the look and the report is phosphorus. The starter fertilizer, repeated three times, is really going to perk that right up--although correction is probably going to continue next year after the next soil test to reach 200 PPM.

The second limiter is potassium. Correct that and the few remaining problems should fade away, leaving only seasonal incidentals that everybody gets. It won't stop disease in its tracks, but it's going to be a lot less likely to do major damage (if any damage at all).

Boron is a distant, distant third. 0.54 is high enough for me to not expect any major changes. If it were 0.20, I'd be in "correct now" mode. And just that difference--0.3 PPM, or 300 parts per billion, should tell you how fine the lines are with boron. That's the equivalent of (calculator) five minutes...in 37 years.

The calcium is just to nudge out some hydrogen, raise the levels a little bit, and give some margin against leaching--and also to lighten and loosen the soil a little since we already have reports of compaction.

Why that works is quite another story...


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

One thing I noted on review, I didn't include two things--a link to my soil test if you want to compare them (you effortlessly get numbers that I had to work for), and aluminum.

Aluminum 500-ish: Normal numbers. Aluminum is toxic to plants quickly and definitively in its ionic form. Fortunately, the ionic form doesn't present itself until the pH falls under 5.5, and doesn't become widely available until pH falls under 5. Toxicity usually shows under a pH of 5 if soil levels are high, or 4.5 at any reasonable soil level.

Your pH is at a good level, and none of your limited aluminum is available to plants

Sidenote: hydrangea sites often recommend aluminum sulfate to lower pH and change the color of hydrangea blossoms. It works, and hydrangea are aluminum-resistant, but it can mean that surrounding trees, shrubs, and plants die. It's smarter to use ferrous sulfate to drop pH instead as it's non-toxic until ridiculous levels.

You'll get exactly the same blue color without destroying the soil--but never add phosphorus to hydrangea even in extremely acidic environments or they'll turn pink again! I had fun last year playing with mine. Half was blue, half pink--but you have to play with the soil carefully and often to do that!

Here is a link that might be useful: My soil test


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

Wow! Impressive, guys.......there's nothing more to say except: Dan you spent $25 for a lab report and the guys responded with a $250 soil consultation. Very cool. I'd say money well spent!


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

polyguy: ain't that the truth!

dchall:
Actually the landscaper did not remove any material, fwiw. He killed off the existing lawn, then mixed it in with about 2 inches of topsoil. I wonder how much of my good numbers are due to that, and how much due to just dumb luck. Of course the lawn has been there in some form or another for 60 years. Since we've been at this location since 1972 I guess you could say we had an organic lawn... as in we never did anything but mow it. Like many lawns, it barely got by as acceptable for a long time.

Also, dchall, the back yard was seeded with a more or less typical mix. They showed me what it was originally but I don't recall exactly. I'm pretty sure it was bluegrass, fescue, and rye. I hadn't considered that the blotchy color was caused by the various grasses. Most of the back yard is sunny enough that I think I could use KBG. Right near the house is shady most all the time, but it is still bright, and not a large area. I definitely need to go over the back yard fall care at some point.

The grass in the back yard is thin in some spots just because it didn't come in as well in some areas than others. The day after the seed was put down, there was a light rain. After that, there was not a single drop of rain for the next 6 weeks or more. My landscape designer said, "Don't worry about it, I'm going to water your grass and trees and make sure everything is just right." Of course he didn't water the lawn at all, so eventually I just got on it myself and took that responsibility away from him. That's prolly another reason for the thin spots.

How fast can KBG fill in thin areas?


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

>>How fast can KBG fill in thin areas?

Very, if it's well fed. I filled in trashcan-lid sized areas where I knocked out P. trivialis in three months or so.


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

KBG takes about 3 years to look really good. The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps. With the installation as you have described it, it would be a miracle if you had any KBG in at all in the back. The color differences are between the rye and fescue. Neither of those would fill the thin spots. The rye/fescue/KBG combination is a sorry blend of seeds. Rye should just be left by itself. It germinates with barely any moisture and gives the inexperienced lawn installer (you, Dan) the idea that all the grass is sprouted. That's far from what happens. Rye will have 80% sprouted in a week. Fescue takes 2 weeks to see much sprouting. KBG takes 3 weeks of continual moisture to see the first germination.

If you seed KBG next month, you should have the thin spots mostly filled by late October. As the rye and fescue inevitably die out from one cause or another, eventually you'll have a 100% KBG lawn, except for the shady areas.

I hate seeing new topsoil being brought in willy nilly. Since this guy was a landscaper I can only hope he had a bonafide drainage reason for adding more soil. I misread your post about regrading it. It looks good...maybe about 2 inches too high in front ;-)


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

morpheus: Thanks again for taking the time to give me the knowledge to achieve a great lawn. I'm sorry that even though I'm clueless, my dirt is smarter than yours! :o) Of course you must gain a much greater sense of accomplishment by bringing your lawn to the condition it now in, rather than lucking into perfect soil conditions from the start.

I understand the next steps you have recommended and will follow through on that. Can you advise whether I can/should apply the materials below and when:

1. corn meal (definitely have some brown spots/winter mold in the back yard).

2. alfalfa or soybean pellets (whichever is cheaper, all else equal I take it soybean would be better)

3. milorganite (ok to apply in the heat of summer even with the laced boron?).

4. shampoo

5. In general is it better to spread out when you apply the above items week by week, or can you just lay down the corn meal, then the alfalfa, then the milo and water it all in? Oh, my entire property is about 1/3 acre, so cost isn't that much of an issue.

6. I'm really interested that you collect neighbor's leaves and mulch them into your lawn. They must think you are nuts! You have to set me straight on something. Everybody says that large amounts of decayed leaves in the soil drops your pH. I understand your comments about getting the minerals right and the pH takes care of itself. However, if we are adding tons of leaves in the fall, does that have to be balanced out with something else in the spring, or have I fallen victim to a suburban myth?

Since it is usually pretty cold when the leaves are being mulched into the lawn, do they sit there until the spring? I guess fall lawn care is a topic in itself, but I had to ask when you said you dump extra leaves on your lawn. I love it!

I don't have any flowering plants just yet. We are thinking about doing some things in the back yard, but no set plans yet.

I guess that's plenty for now. I'm gonna go hunt for alfalfa and boron and fun stuff like that tomorrow. I can get corn meal from my wholesale food distributor. It's about $21 per 50 lb bag. Kinda high I guess, but not prohibitive.

Thanks!


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

>> dchall: I hate seeing new topsoil being brought in willy nilly. Since this guy was a landscaper I can only hope he had a bonafide drainage reason for adding more soil. I misread your post about regrading it. It looks good...maybe about 2 inches too high in front ;-)

We rebuilt the house in 2008 - 2010 and extended the back of the house. They excavated dirt for the extended basement and left a 5' high pile there for a year. Eventually they flattened it out by just spreading it around. There is a gradual slope from backyard to front yard and there were issues with high and low areas due to previously removed trees and shrubs. So I opted to have the back yard graded to keep water away from the house and not forming puddles. For the most part, the water goes where it should. I think they did a good job with the "heavy equipment" part, removing a massive stump from the back yard and all, and I certainly can't complain about how they laid the sod. BUT, this is also the landscaper who said, "you can if you want to" when I asked about whether fall fertilization was a good idea for the lawn. I dunno, maybe he misunderstood me.


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

>>The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps.

Well, if you're ditching organics, in September and October of the first year it sleeps. April and May are creep, but it's a fast creep--like a one year old up to no good.

It's first year anniversary marked the start of leap.

But you really have to feed it hard and often, organically, to achieve that--and have a well-tuned soil.


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

>>morpheus: Thanks again for taking the time to give me the knowledge to achieve a great lawn. I'm sorry that even though I'm clueless, my dirt is smarter than yours! :o) Of course you must gain a much greater sense of accomplishment by bringing your lawn to the condition it now in, rather than lucking into perfect soil conditions from the start.

I actually started with what's called "collapsed" soil. Which means every resource in it has collapsed, leaving practically nothing in acceptable (or even tolerable) range, except manganese. I had tons of manganese.

The soil here had been corn field for as long as I can remember--or my parents could remember. Possibly as long as my grandfather could remember if he'd still been alive when we built here.

Consider yourself fortunate that you're not starting there. My pH was 4.4.

>>1. corn meal (definitely have some brown spots/winter mold in the back yard).

Whenever you like, except when the ground is frozen, to control fungi or just to condition the soil.

I find that one application in early May of about 20 pounds per thousand (I'm going to use pound per K from here on out) is enough to suppress fungal infections for the rest of the season except under extraordinary circumstances. This year is extraordinary.

>>2. alfalfa or soybean pellets (whichever is cheaper, all else equal I take it soybean would be better)

To feed, soybean is three times as good--and about the same price for me. Soy's 7-1-2 equivalent. Alfalfa is 2-1-2.

Don't ever apply more than 20 pounds of alfalfa per K a month. The growth hormones will become excessive and start to slow root growth.

You don't need more than 15 pounds of soy per K per feeding, and way more than that also isn't a good idea--because it smells terrible when decaying and wet.

Really, one drop of alfalfa a year in September, coupled with four drops a year of soy at 15 per K in May, August, September, and October will feed your lawn beautifully all year long.

Anything on top of that is gravy.

>>3. milorganite (ok to apply in the heat of summer even with the laced boron?).

No problems with this any time you want. Milo's a good feed at 5-2-0, and contains a lot of iron at 4%. Spring, summer, fall, it's all good for soy, alfalfa, corn, and Milorganite.

Post the first year, I'd lighten organic usage in summer. The grass really has no interest in feeding heavily, so 10 pounds per thousand of whatever you want to add is more than enough.

>>4. shampoo

Any time the ground isn't frozen; I've applied sodium laurel sulfate the last three weeks in the gardens to enhance the kelp I was also adding at the same time.

Limit application to 4 oz per K per month as a general rule, but don't go into hysterics if you accidentally go over this. It's no big deal.

>>5. In general is it better to spread out when you apply the above items week by week, or can you just lay down the corn meal, then the alfalfa, then the milo and water it all in? Oh, my entire property is about 1/3 acre, so cost isn't that much of an issue.

Whichever you like, it doesn't really matter. However, that having been said, when starting out the stench can be...well, you'll find out.

Spreading it out a bit is a good idea. And whatever plan you have may be modified by the smell. My first few months, I had a plan that went out the window while I waited for the soy to stop smelling.

For the first year, I dumped material and simply tolerated a slight miasma of decay over the property. The neighbors never noticed, it wasn't that bad, but I sure did.

You'll find what you wish to tolerate and work with that, and that's awesome.

Once the bacteria, insects, micro-arthropods, and fungi come up to speed you'll be able to dump more material more often without scent.

>>6. I'm really interested that you collect neighbor's leaves and mulch them into your lawn. They must think you are nuts! You have to set me straight on something. Everybody says that large amounts of decayed leaves in the soil drops your pH. I understand your comments about getting the minerals right and the pH takes care of itself. However, if we are adding tons of leaves in the fall, does that have to be balanced out with something else in the spring, or have I fallen victim to a suburban myth?

Victim. :-) Initial decay of most organic material is acidic (urea is actually alkaline). By the time it's done, the resultant overall pH change is negligible.

I've added...wow, er...calculator...no way. 2,400 pounds of organic material per thousand square feet over the last five years. My pH has been as stable as I would expect in eastern Pennsylvania, where normal pH is 5.0-5.5. Mine hovers near 6.1-6.3.

>>Since it is usually pretty cold when the leaves are being mulched into the lawn, do they sit there until the spring? I guess fall lawn care is a topic in itself, but I had to ask when you said you dump extra leaves on your lawn. I love it!

Nope, my lawn can easily chew up 8" of leaf mulch (leaves that have been multiply mowed until they're pinky nail sized or smaller) per season. The limit there is that's all I can haul without killing myself.

One fellow I met gives his that much per week--his lot is very heavily forested.

Once the fungi that decay leaves come up to speed, which does take a while (usually the second year), they'll accept and decay as much as you can throw at them.

The only warning is that there has to be sufficient nitrogen in the soil, although leaf decaying fungi usually associate with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Still, it's faster if they don't have to expend the energy to fix nitrogen.

Since I dump two organic feedings right on top of that leaf mass, nitrogen availability for the leaves and the lawn is certainly no problem.

>>I don't have any flowering plants just yet. We are thinking about doing some things in the back yard, but no set plans yet.

No problem, whenever. You don't have to rush ahead and start dumping starter fertilizer on your expected gardens. Whenever you start gardening is just fine.

The starter you add will go into solution and the plants get a (short) short at it before it soil binds. Since multiple (many) applications are necessary, they get lots of chances to pull it from the water before being forced to live on the soil resources.

If you saw my soil test, I went overboard on phosphorus in the lawn and the gardens. That's not a problem, but I'm avoiding phosphorus sources right now--P is a water pollutant if it erodes off. Fortunately, with this lawn and garden, erosion is a non-issue.

>>I guess that's plenty for now. I'm gonna go hunt for alfalfa and boron and fun stuff like that tomorrow. I can get corn meal from my wholesale food distributor. It's about $21 per 50 lb bag. Kinda high I guess, but not prohibitive.

Boron, 20 Mule Team Borax, is available in your grocery store in the laundry section. It's used as a laundry booster and most of it is mined in Boron, California.

No, I'm not kidding. It's home to the largest borax (boron) mine on the planet.

$21 per 50 lbs isn't all that bad this year, when corn is riding high on price again. I've gotten it as cheap as $9 per fifty, but that was several years ago before price manipu...I mean, before "harvests got weaker."


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

Found this interesting organic fertilizer from big box stores.

It comes with myco fungi, bacteria and archae as well.

I've applied it once a year past 2 years for the fun of it.


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

(cough) useless (cough).

I mean, if it makes you feel better, go for it. But the bacteria and fungi that live in our lawns are very, very common and will blow in on the wind in copious numbers.

Worst-case scenario, post a severe flood that keeps your property under water for several days, scatter around a few cubic feet of compost. That'll re-inject the appropriate bacteria and fungi. Or just wait for it to happen naturally, because it will.

Adding those is nice, I guess, but if you don't feed them pretty well, they'll spore up at best or die at worst.


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

Well, I had just moved into a brand new house... I had already went though all of it starting 2005 at another house that was a brand new house with terrible soil to work with (limestone rubble soil)... I'm pretty well familiar with everything. Just ask Dchall. That's how far we go back over this stuff. I did everything you have already did...

 photo DSC00745.jpg

You didn't have to act like a jackass with the cough thing... Like I said I did it for the fun of it... I was pretty doing very well at the previous house with st augustine grass that everybody claimed that it needed watering too much but i proved them wrong by watering it every 10-14 days even at worst conditions. That's how good the soil has gotten with that terrible compacted soil I had to work with. Tons more earthworms too.


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

That was a little abrupt, morph. That's how lou chooses to spend his hobby dollars. You spend yours on soap ingredients. I spend mine on feeding the poor in India (not at all, but...). There are many constructive ways to say the same thing. Too often I choose the wrong way myself - I consider myself a work in progress.

As I recall back to 2005 there was considerable discussion about using mycorhizae (my koh RISE ay) on bad soil back then. Those fungi start small and can get very VERY big. In a nutshell they are a fungus which attaches to the root system of a plant. The mycorhizae take sugar from the plant roots and grow outward exactly like an extension of the plant's roots. I've seen pictures of mycorhizae attached to no-till cotton plants where the fungus was much bigger than the plant and root system combined. They spread far, wide and deep. What they're doing is absorbing moisture and nutrients from far away and delivering it to the plants. Mycorhizal fungi are another reason you never want to rototill the soil.

After looking at many before and after pictures as well as side by side pictures, my opinion was, and still is, that normal soil does not need a mycorhizal booster. But there were too many pictures to deny the benefit in poor soils. Specifically there are pictures of desert golf courses created out of pure silicon dioxide and decomposed granite rubble where the mycorhizae fostered an oasis in just a few weeks. Side by side comparison pictures taken on the same project were very convincing. There is one golf course I am familiar with built in a large, sandy ravine. The ravine is subject to flash flooding when there is a prolonged tropical storm hovering in the area. When the flooding subsides you would never know there was anything but sand there. But they rebuild the golf course in just a few months. It's amazing to see, so I wonder if they use mycorhizae on those occasions.

Back to the topic...


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

That was humor. Picture a wry smile.

That having been said, there are no sterile soils except those that just came out of the kiln. And those stay sterile for about ten seconds after they drop under 160° (technically before that, but we don't care much about thermophiles). And bacteria and fungal spores do very well on the winds and in bird digestion or they'd never spread.

If you really want my opinion on it? Stop here if you're easily offended.

It's worse than useless, it's a false assurance that you're doing something worth doing, and an advertising gimmick. Soils contain at least forty thousand species of flourishing soil bacteria, and nobody knows yet how many fungi. This adds a few that aren't deficient in any soil I ever heard of--unless they aren't native there in the first place.

You run the risk of an imbalance in the former instance, but fortunately not much. The current bacterial balance will disallow changes by outcompeting the new bacteria, which aren't adjusted properly by depth, and haven't had the advantage of evolving for many generations in the same soil.

In the latter instance, you don't run much risk of an imbalance because they'll simply die, being inappropriate for their new locale.

In either case, it's like trying to correct starvation by taking a vitamin. You won't get scurvy or rickets, but that isn't much consolation as you starve to death anyway.

A better use of resources would be to pour organic material of whatever stripe and let the bacteria already native and coming in reproduce on their own. There aren't too many normal problems (eternal and regular flooding not being normal) that can't be solved by appropriately balancing the soil.


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

Hey morph I have a question about grass height for KBG. I read on another thread where you said you keep yours at 3" unless you expect drought, in which case you go up to 5". I've been mowing mine high, around 4" and plan to keep it that way at least until the fall per you recommendations. I notice that near my front walk way, up to about a foot in from the edge of the walkway, I can see that the sod is just a little dryer looking like it is considering going dormant. In comparison, after that first foot or so, the sod is lush and green. (Now, I'm not talking about along my driveway where there is a definite kill-off of some grass right at the edge). With all the rain we've had, and the soil still not dry, I am surprised to see this drying effect, admittedly slight at this point. Two questions:

1. Why do you maintain 3" even in summer heat (or do you?)

2. I have been assuming that my roots are well developed after a half season of growth after the installation last October. However, I didn't see much in the way of roots when I took core samples the other day. (Are roots too small to really see?) So do you think any of the slight drying of the lawn "around the edges" has anything to do with the age of the lawn (new)?

I guess that was more than 2 questions :).


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>>1. Why do you maintain 3" even in summer heat (or do you?)

I do. The technical top deck on my robot is 3", although my Toro will go higher. I don't usually drag out the Toro unless I'm mulching leaves or mowing the back line (behind the Thuja where I don't see it).

I can finagle with a piece of hose, some duct tape, and a few bits and pieces to raise the deck to 3 1/2". I don't usually bother.

For an elite, 3" is already quite tall, so that's sufficient. For a non-elite, it would be an average height, although still taller than most people maintain it.

>>2. I have been assuming that my roots are well developed after a half season of growth after the installation last October.

You'd be surprised. :-) Full establishment on KBG can take years. Roughly, I'd say I saw habit and weather resistance changing through year four. The last few years have been pretty stable.

Most of it was certainly in place by the end of the first year, but it definitely did improve.

>>However, I didn't see much in the way of roots when I took core samples the other day. (Are roots too small to really see?)

During summer, grass has dropped a lot of its root mass--gone. That's called root sloughing, and it happens twice a year on northern grasses, June and (usually) December-ish, give or take a lot.

Most of the structural roots are still there, but the feeder roots get dropped. During summer and winter, they cost more energy to maintain than they're worth. Thinner structural roots are entirely capable of supplying water, just like a tap root for a tree.

So if the structural roots weren't down to the four inch level yet, it's because they're not yet that long. I have to pry mine up and break them to get soil samples, but I sure didn't do that the first few years!

>>So do you think any of the slight drying of the lawn "around the edges" has anything to do with the age of the lawn (new)?

Yes, in part. As time goes on, that tendency will lessen.

But the edges and borders of things do tend to go dry first. Walkways heat in sun, helping to evaporate water from the soil by warming that as well.

If you hear people complaining about their heck strip, the area between the sidewalk and street, this is part of the problem. It's getting warmed in two directions by large chunks of stone, plus the base underneath both is sand--which holds no water but does love holding heat.

The edges of driveways are famous for that I've pretty much given up on the first two feet to the north of my driveway (fortunately, a very short distance as it's mostly flower garden). It overheats, the grass blasts out, and there you go.


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Dchall,

I've seen empty bags of myco fungi at golf course turf management a few months ago. It made me wonder why they use them. Excessive usage of chemicals? Soil compaction from carts, equipments, etc? It's not exactly a new course... more like 20-30 years old...


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Dan,

On the topics of KB spreading and deep rooting:

Optimal soil temperatures for shoot and root growth is in the 55-70 F range. These temperatures usually occur late Spring and early Fall.

Rainfall is commonly more abundant in the Spring than in the Fall, so soil water content is easier to control in the Fall.

KB spreading appears most active in the Spring.

Cutting grass at 2-2 1/2" promotes spreading.

Root growth will continue to some extent until the soil freezes.

Taller cut grass promotes deeper rooting.

Root growth is more prolific in levels of soil where water and nutrients are present.

Turf grass will take the avenue of least effort/resistance.

It is easier to pump water and nutrients that are closer to the surface than from deeper depths.

When trying to promote a desired outcome, stack the cards in your favor.


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

yardtractor: Thanks for the comments re root growth.


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

I've been calling places trying to find availability of alfalfa pellets and also soybean (meal or pellets?). Anyway everybody has alfalfa and it looks like some have soybean meal or can get it. Is the soybean meal what I want, or some other form like a pellet? Also, morph says N is much higher in soybean, so I can use 15 lb instead of 20 lb, but is this the only benefit? ( I think I know the answer -- no, and it's more complicated that you realize!).

I don't know the cost of the soybean yet as I wasn't sure if it was the meal I could use. So if the cost is more or less the same either way is soybean the way to go, even if it is meal?

I know this has been covered before, but a lot of what I see is many years old and I wasn't sure if thinking on the subject has changed.


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>>Anyway everybody has alfalfa and it looks like some have soybean meal or can get it. Is the soybean meal what I want, or some other form like a pellet?

The meal is great. It's actually small bits of the bean, and flows through a spreader like a synthetic.

>>Also, morph says N is much higher in soybean, so I can use 15 lb instead of 20 lb,

Morph says a lot of things, but it's always wise to check. :-)

20 lb per K is the maximum for alfalfa because of the growth hormones (too much is far, far worse than none at all). To get the same feeding as 15 pounds per K of soybean meal, you'd actually have to use 50 pounds per K of alfalfa.

>>is this the only benefit? ( I think I know the answer -- no, and it's more complicated that you realize!).

It's much more complicated. NPK numbers don't relate all that well to organics. They don't leach out easily, and if you're mulch mowing the nitrogen recycles for a while.

I tend to shoot for the worst case scenario--nitrogen in organics being as easy to lose as in a synthetic. That isn't the case, but it absolutely assures that the lawn is getting the nitrogen levels it requires at all times. The worst case scenario never happens in nature.

Nitrogen does get lost out of the system over time. Later in the process, it can be leached out as it's in the soil solution just like a synthetic would have been--but smaller amounts are in solution at any one time. As the nitrogen changes form, it can gas out to the atmosphere. And plants are nowhere near perfectly efficient in its use, losing some to inefficiencies, to the air, and to insects and rabbits that are nibbling on them.

>>So if the cost is more or less the same either way is soybean the way to go, even if it is meal?

Most of the time. Once a year, as temperatures start to drop, I'd use alfalfa if you can get it easily and the price isn't ridiculous. The rest of the time, use soybean meal as it isn't loading the soil with growth hormones or anything overly odd.

It's strange to say, but soy has the advantage of not having any other advantages. Like corn (where the minor fungal defense doesn't cause a problem and doesn't over-build), it's something you can add any time you like.


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OK so I can pack a lot more N in the feeding with soybean (7 vs 2 I think you said) without worrying about growth hormones. Otherwise I assume they are about the same - both providing protein to the soil?

Which is the greater benefit of using alfalfa and/or soybean -- the nitrogen or the protein?

If am trying to increase my OM each year how much is coming from this soybean addition vs corn meal, grass clippings, fall leaves?

I ask these questions because I'm trying to get an idea of exactly why I am adding these things. N vs OM, etc... just getting a feel for things.


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>>I ask these questions because I'm trying to get an idea of exactly why I am adding these things. N vs OM, etc... just getting a feel for things.

OK, but could you please get the 500 watt spotlight out of my face. And why are you holding a heated fireplace poker? HEY! :-)

No biggie. There's a huge learning curve on all this and I'm thrilled you're interested. Some people just want a stable prescription and off they go. That's fine too, but knowing why you do something is always key to explaining it to somebody else.

>>OK so I can pack a lot more N in the feeding with soybean (7 vs 2 I think you said) without worrying about growth hormones. Otherwise I assume they are about the same - both providing protein to the soil?

Exactly. There are other considerations. The proteins are consumed and don't add much to the OM (but, indirectly and directly, they do add to it). Cellulose, lignite, and a dozen other things get added to soil OM in larger fraction.

>>Which is the greater benefit of using alfalfa and/or soybean -- the nitrogen or the protein?

Yes. :-) Protein is 7.25% nitrogen by weight, so adding protein is adding nitrogen. Soybean meal just happens to be nearly 50% protein by weight. Alfalfa is closer to 11-12%.

>>If am trying to increase my OM each year how much is coming from this soybean addition vs corn meal, grass clippings, fall leaves?

For most grains, about 20% of the final mass goes to OM directly. For Milorganite, it's around 10% (Milo has other advantages, most notably iron).

Fall leaves are high carbon already, so probably one third of their mass goes to OM, but the variance is very high.

Grass clippings always help, but they're wet. While ten percent of their dry weight goes to soil OM (they're light and easy to digest for the micros in the soil), if you measure as you mow that percentage is actually around three percent. Grass is mostly water.

All the above is the primary effect. However, increased OM and bacterial/fungal activity in your soil will increase grass growth--which means more clippings. So that soybean meal has to be amplified by the amount it added to growth.

The roots did the same thing (roots like airy, organic soils with lots of life). Those slough off twice yearly, adding loads of OM. So that helped too.

Bacteria and fungi don't live forever, and when they die they're consumed just like anything else. The remains of their corpses becomes more OM. Worms, same thing. Even the predatory robins help as they poo on your lawn, returning OM right back to the soil (and ultimately growing more worms).

It's a large and complex cycle from bacteriophages (usually viruses) and bacteria all the way up to the large hunting hawks that may occasionally snag a small mammal that's happily living on your rich green property.


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deleted double post.

I don't know why that keeps happening. I've never seen a double post on other forums.

This post was edited by danielj_2009 on Fri, Jul 25, 14 at 17:18


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Either I'm having a stroke or that's a double post?


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

If you throw a drift and it isn't caught, what happens to the drift?


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

Somebody else will always catch your drift. They can be redeemed for valuable S&H products!


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Is it safe? Is...it...safe? Dunno how old you are, but that might give you an idea where things are headed if I don't get some good answers! ;o)

>> Some people just want a stable prescription and off they go. That's fine too, but knowing why you do something is always key to explaining it to somebody else.

I think it was Einstein who said if you can't explain something to your grandmother then you don't understand it well enough.

Thanks for the details you provided above. That clears a lot up. I hate to use something only to find out later I didn't really have a clue as to why I was using it. At least now I have a little clue.

I got a call back from a garden/feed store and they have to special order soybean meal. The price is $27 for soybean and $19 for alfalfa, so with the 15 lb/M vs 20 lb/M they are actually roughly equivalent in cost to treat the lawn. So I think I'll go ahead with the soybean meal.

Thanks again!

Oh yeah... Is...it...safe?


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>>Oh yeah... Is...it...safe?

Marathon Man?

>>I got a call back from a garden/feed store and they have to special order soybean meal. The price is $27 for soybean and $19 for alfalfa, so with the 15 lb/M vs 20 lb/M they are actually roughly equivalent in cost to treat the lawn. So I think I'll go ahead with the soybean meal.

And on the nitrogen measurements, the scale tilts definitively toward soybean in this particular case. That fifteen will provide 1 pound per K.

The twenty of alfalfa will provide 0.4 pounds N per K.

Over time, that will make a difference. A big difference.


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>> The twenty of alfalfa will provide 0.4 pounds N per K.

and you can't go more than this due to the growth hormone, or it just isn't practical? It seemed from your experience that it was hard to harm you lawn with too much alfalfa. At what levels do the hormones become a risk? (sorry if asked and answered already). I'm already sold on soybean, but I'm interested to know.

I just did a detailed measurement of my actual lawn area and it comes out to 9100 sf. So I figure at 15lb/1000sf I'm looking at just under 3 bags (50 lb ea.). For me that would be 3/4 bag front left yard, 3/4 bag front right yard, and 1.5 bags for the back yard. Average would be 16.5 lb/M.

Seems simple enough. Now if I can only figure out my Scott's spreader settings! A little trial and error I guess.


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>>and you can't go more than this due to the growth hormone, or it just isn't practical? It seemed from your experience that it was hard to harm you lawn with too much alfalfa. At what levels do the hormones become a risk? (sorry if asked and answered already). I'm already sold on soybean, but I'm interested to know.

About 20 lbs per thousand per month for northern lawns. I'm not sure what the limit is for southern lawns. At that point, you've overdone it and root growth will slow.

It's kind of like a little vitamin A is great. Too much and you turn orange and itch. Way too much and your liver shuts down (except that unlike you, it won't kill the grass, it just stalls).

When I was slamming the soil, I used cracked corn and soybean and Milorganite--never alfalfa as it's just too expensive for me. There were random things thrown in as I got them on sale, like oat hulls and whatnot.

>>Average would be 16.5 lb/M.

That's well within normal range, so no worries there.

>>Seems simple enough. Now if I can only figure out my Scott's spreader settings! A little trial and error I guess.

Every grind differs, and every crop differs, so you'll be figuring that one out every application for the rest of your life. :-) On my Scott's broadcast, I tend to sit around 7 1/2, but it varies a little every time.


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morph - a quick question about spreader settings:

I have a Scott's Edgeguard spreader. The bag of milorganite says to use a setting of 11.5. It also says to do 2 passes. Then there is another column for new lawns showing half the application lbs, and in parenthesis it says "2 passes." Anyway, the point is that I'm going to be lacing the milo with boron and I want to be sure I understand what I'm doing. Does the Scott's 11.5 setting mean that I will be able to make 2 criss-cross passes as the diagram on the bag shows, or is the 11.5 for one pass only? My guess is that 11.5 gives me enough time to do 2 passes as they recommend. What say you?

Again, I'm being extra careful because of the boron.

I laid down all my corn meal today. I found a fine ground meal at a much better price than the regular meal. It broadcast out just fine, and today was over 80% humidity. I also put down 4 oz soap/M today. It sure seems like a small amount! I think dchall recommended watering in 1" and then repeat a week later.

Thanks!


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>>Does the Scott's 11.5 setting mean that I will be able to make 2 criss-cross passes as the diagram on the bag shows, or is the 11.5 for one pass only? My guess is that 11.5 gives me enough time to do 2 passes as they recommend. What say you?

I also have the Edgeguard and a setting of 6.5 is closer to two passes on my spreader...but my mother's Edgeguard would be close to 9 (I've used both of ours).

Every spreader differs. Test first using an extra bag of Milo and see exactly how far things go.

>>I laid down all my corn meal today. I found a fine ground meal at a much better price than the regular meal. It broadcast out just fine, and today was over 80% humidity.

Cool! I always have trouble with corn meal, but it does depend on the grind. Powder fine won't flow. Somewhat rougher spreads fine, but warps in the wind. Kind of chunky works under all circumstances.

Unfortunately, I can't request a grind at the mill, so I get whatever they did. Usually that's powder.

>>I also put down 4 oz soap/M today. It sure seems like a small amount! I think dchall recommended watering in 1" and then repeat a week later.

It's not a great deal, no. Water it in and you can repeat weekly for a month or so if you want (or as rarely as two to three times a year).

I've got my soil to the point where twice, once early and once late, is more than sufficient to hold it.


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>> re soap: I've got my soil to the point where twice, once early and once late, is more than sufficient to hold it.

How can I really tell when the soap has done what it is supposed to do?


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>>How can I really tell when the soap has done what it is supposed to do?

When the soil is to your standard, whatever that is.

It's been jokingly said that my standard is when it's pliable and easy to dig down to Earth's mantle. That's not quite true, but when I finally planted a crepe myrtle in a huge pot and effortlessly dug down two feet plus, I called it a done deal. At that point, I could dig holes for annuals with my fingers as easily as with the trowel. I still can.


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**** I could dig holes for annuals with my fingers as easily as with the trowel. I still can.

That is amazing!. What happens if you jump up and down the ground? Does it feel like a sponge where is it gives and then rebounds gradually?


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>>That is amazing!. What happens if you jump up and down the ground? Does it feel like a sponge where is it gives and then rebounds gradually?

Don't do that. Have you seen what happens when kids jump up and down in an overinflated bouncy castle? Yeah, orbit. I fear for the house if we ever have an earthquake.

:-)

No, it feels like soil, although the grass does have a cushiony feel underfoot. The gardens do as well, but they're always mulched with 3" of shredded hardwood.


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Morph - regarding alfalfa:

You said you would be fine with 4 applications of soybean (May, Aug, Sept, Oct) and 1 of alfalfa in September. You mentioned using the alfalfa in the cooler month of September. Just curious as to why I add that in along with the soybean in September, if I understood correctly.

Also, you mentioned a double addition of something (alfalfa?) to top dress the leaf mulch and balance it out. Can you speak more about exactly what you are doing there? I understand there is supposed to be a green/brown balance in composting. Is that what you are getting at?


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Here's another thing I was wondering about. I've been mowing high -- 4" setting on the mower. I'm a little concerned that the grass isn't standing straight up, it kind of swirls around a little from foot traffic and doesn't get back up completely although it looks pretty healthy from what I can tell. Here are some pics, although it's a little hard to see in pictures. I'm sure most people are familiar with it. Should I cut back 1/2" and see what happens, or is this fine for the heat of summer?

 photo 20140806_182309_zps7bfd2e6b.jpg

 photo 20140806_182326_zpsc625df2c.jpg

 photo 20140806_182142_zpsda61dcbe.jpg


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>>You said you would be fine with 4 applications of soybean (May, Aug, Sept, Oct) and 1 of alfalfa in September. You mentioned using the alfalfa in the cooler month of September. Just curious as to why I add that in along with the soybean in September, if I understood correctly.

Growth hormones. While not good for continuous exposure, they're a nice thing to have when trying to develop root systems for winter. Application in early September gives the stuff plenty of time to decay in and start to work by late September/early October as temperatures are dropping.

As soil temperatures fall under 60, root growth picks up (not much, but some). As they fall under 50, root growth goes into high gear. That continues down to the freezing point, but growth does slow as it reaches the thirties.

While I get some years when root growth technically never stops (they're rare but, over the last decade, we've had two), I usually don't do a thing after Thanksgiving. Growth and root development is so slow that my feeding peters out around Christmas--and after that, it doesn't require anything until May.

>>Also, you mentioned a double addition of something (alfalfa?) to top dress the leaf mulch and balance it out. Can you speak more about exactly what you are doing there? I understand there is supposed to be a green/brown balance in composting. Is that what you are getting at?

Double of Milorganite....maybe half again of soybean meal. Never double alfalfa on a northern lawn, but that's one case where you'd probably get away with it with absolutely no issues at all.

In this case, it's a green/brown balance. Leaves are a very "brown" brown, with carbon:nitrogen ratios of 60:1 or so (it varies a lot). The target is 30:1, which you can't reach easily and don't need to. This isn't bin or pile composting. The fungi that decay leaves are very, very happy to work cold and at lower nitrogen levels, this just speeds things up.

By your second or third year, there'll be so many happy fungi kicking around that you really don't even need to step up the feeding. I still do it because it still accelerates things and I don't particularly care to see leaf mass everywhere.

>>Here's another thing I was wondering about. I've been mowing high -- 4" setting on the mower. I'm a little concerned that the grass isn't standing straight up, it kind of swirls around a little from foot traffic and doesn't get back up completely although it looks pretty healthy from what I can tell. Here are some pics, although it's a little hard to see in pictures. I'm sure most people are familiar with it. Should I cut back 1/2" and see what happens, or is this fine for the heat of summer?

Dealer's choice. Anything over 3" is perfectly acceptable for summer mowing, and if the four inch height makes you happy, stay there. If not, cut to 3 1/2" if you want.

I can see the "waving fields of wheat" thing going on there. Your lawn isn't yet trained to stay taller, so it's a little floppy. The central stem will grow and eventually everything will adjust.

Those dead blades in the grass? Normal. I have them too. Grasses shed blades regularly (they aren't immortal) and throw new ones.

As your organic feedings increase and the web comes up to speed, those will get digested a lot faster. But you'll still have some, particularly in dry weather.

If you don't have a packed layer of dead stemmy mass more than half an inch thick (which means you have to dig your finger through it), don't worry about it. Up to half an inch of thatch is not only harmless, it's slightly helpful as it helps cushion and protect the grass crowns and mulch the soil.

Again, once the food web is up to speed that will disappear. I'd like a bit of thatch, but don't get it. And that's in bluegrass, the second most susceptible to thatch issues (the first is zoysia).


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

Thanks again, morph. I don't believe I have much of any thatch. I can put my finger down to the soil.

So far I've added corn meal, milorganite/boron, soybean meal, and two applications of shampoo. My lawn's sayin' "Dude, what's all this stuff. I'm down with the milorganite, but shampoo"? It did smell some after the soybean meal, but really only a little bit.


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Over time, that scent will fade out. I ditched soybean meal on the evening of July 30th (I think, coulda been the 31st). It rained on the first.

Scent, none, and there won't be any. My soil food web is completely up to speed and used to this.

The next feeding is September 1st or thereabouts, then October. Other than a faint, nutty (and pleasant) scent over the lawn for a few hours after application, nobody will ever know I did it.


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So I've been caring for my new lawn per all the recommendations, and I think things are going well for the most part. The back yard got hit hard with crabgrass, which I'm dealing with now. However, I might add a deck and other things in a year or so, so I'm just going to improve the soil and keep it under control...maybe go to sod after redoing the back yard.

Watering still has me a little confused. Here's the thing:

The rule of thumb is to water deep 1" weekly at 90F and every other week at 80F. However, I find that my grass has patches that start to turn dark a little prematurely, even when the soil surface is still not dry to the touch. I'm attributing this to the first year roots on my KBG not being developed enough yet.

But here's the confusion. Of course 90F happens in the summer, but morpheus has mentioned elsewhere that the roots slough off in the heat to conserve energy and that a full inch might not be needed because of this. So if the roots are semi dormant and more shallow, is it necessary to water an inch? I'm probably not remembering everything correctly. I guess the question is, if the roots are fully develped in a mature lawn, will they actually make use of 1" of water that has seeped down 5"? Or, have the roots sloughed off and might actually need more frequent watering due to the shallower roots?


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>>I find that my grass has patches that start to turn dark a little prematurely, even when the soil surface is still not dry to the touch. I'm attributing this to the first year roots on my KBG not being developed enough yet.

Quite possibly, but take a long handled screwdriver and push it in. Feel a rock in the top six inches or so? It's wise to dig it out.

It could also be short, young roots, a sandier patch of soil, greasy soil, or compacted soil that doesn't hold water as well. But try for the rock first.

>>But here's the confusion. Of course 90F happens in the summer, but morpheus has mentioned elsewhere that the roots slough off in the heat to conserve energy and that a full inch might not be needed because of this.

It's more that root growth is zero in summer, so full watering to below the root mass isn't completely required.

It depends on your lawn. Mine is very tolerant of half an inch a week, yours may not be right now. Even some areas of mine prefer (and receive) more, mostly on the southern and southwestern faces.

>>guess the question is, if the roots are fully develped in a mature lawn, will they actually make use of 1" of water that has seeped down 5"?

Yes. Feeder roots slough off for summer, but the main structural roots remain (and those are the deeper ones that will also gather water from down below).

Like I said, it's mostly how demanding your grass happens to be, how well your soil stores water and restricts evaporation, and the weather.

Not much works in the weather we had ten days ago--temps in the 90's, modest humidity, windy. A few areas of my lawn have some repairing to do. They'll manage.

For fall I just sprayed on a layer of kelp, humic acid, and soil conditioner to improve water retention.


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OK so I'm picking up a bunch of OceanGro this morning and I'm thinking about all my applications for September per the morph's recommendations.

In September I'm adding OceanGro, soybean meal, alfalfa, calcitic lime. It got me wondering about the nitrogen. Since any one of the applications would theoretically provide enough N for the month, am I wasting lots of N with all 3 applications? Or, is the real benefit more about adding organic mass and growth hormone at this point? It seems a shame if I am wasting N resources but I'm not sure if that is what is going on.

Just curious.


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>> Since any one of the applications would theoretically provide enough N for the month, am I wasting lots of N with all 3 applications?

Really, only the Oceangro N for the month. Oceangro's N level is set at 0.75 pounds per K using bag rate or so, about a third of which is available immediately. The rest waits for decay, but sludge products seem to be available faster than grains.

Soy and alfalfa have zero immediately available N, it's all slowly available. It won't even start being available to the grass for three weeks minimum, and given temperature drops during the period, probably longer and slower than that. Release is very long term, with some N still being released well into next year.

Calcitic lime contains no N.


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

I get it. Makes sense.


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

Hmm. I just posted a message but can't find it now. Anyway:

Morph - regarding the potassium sulfate recommendation -- the first time around I'm trying to make sure I get all the right stuff. I'm a little confused because there are several kinds of potassium sulfate. There is the reagent, and that can't be right. Then there's a 0-0-50 fertilizer that looks like the right stuff. But then it says "sulfate potash" that has both the sulfate and an oxide of potassium. Then not all potashes are the same, so I can't just order that.

What exactly am I trying to get my garden center to order?

Thanks.


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

0-0-50 is correct--pure potassium sulfate, AKA sulfate of potash.

K2SO4 is the chemical formula, You'd have to let me know exactly what the labels said for me to determine what you were looking at, though.

Under all circumstances, avoid potassium chloride. It's harsh, binds more poorly to the soil, and the remaining chloride does nasty things. Sulfates are more gentle, and we can deal with the sulfur excess if it ever becomes a problem (and it probably won't).


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

OK, I went to the local garden center and the guy said it is getting harder to find individual chemical components like that. He did have a 5 lb bag of granular 0-0-60 for perennials... stuff ain't cheap!

Anyway, the 5 lb bag in the store, and the 50 lb bags of 0-0-50 online all said the same thing, "60% K2O soluble potassium." While at the same time the bags says "sulfate of potassium." So I recalled that Google is your friend and found the following:

The chemical formula K2O is used in the N-P-K (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) numbers on the labels of fertilizers. Although K2O is the correct formula for potassium oxide, potassium oxide is not used as a fertilizer in these products. Normally, potassium chloride, potassium sulfate, or potassium carbonate is used as a fertilizer source for potassium. The percentage of K2O given on the label only represents the amount of potassium in the fertilizer if it was in the form of potassium oxide. Potassium oxide is about 83% potassium by weight, but potassium chloride, for instance, is only 52% potassium by weight. Potassium chloride provides less potassium than an equal amount of potassium oxide. Thus, if a fertilizer is 30% potassium chloride by weight, its standard potassium rating, based on potassium oxide, would be only 18.8%.

So that solves the mystery. 0-0-50 is pure potassium sulfate. The K2O on the label is merely a scale for measuring K content by weight.

But that still leaves me with finding the stuff. I need 2 lb/K per your recommendations, which is 18 lb total for me. I suppose I could get the granular stuff for flowers and lace it into some OceanGro or something next month??

Also, I see that it says "soluble." I recall adding boron which is a trace mineral and I expect that it will stay in the soil for a long time once I get the ppm right. Will this soluble K stay in the soil as a trace mineral, or will it be consumed/transported off like nitrogen (not evaporating, of course).


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

>>He did have a 5 lb bag of granular 0-0-60 for perennials... stuff ain't cheap!

Avoid. 0-0-60 is potassium chloride.

>>I suppose I could get the granular stuff for flowers and lace it into some OceanGro or something next month??

I did it by hand, but i have very steady hands. :) You can lace it into Oceangro if you want, or do it freehand, whichever works best for you.

>>Also, I see that it says "soluble." I recall adding boron which is a trace mineral and I expect that it will stay in the soil for a long time once I get the ppm right.

Actually, boron is fairly soluble even in soil solution and will need to be adjusted relatively often.

>>Will this soluble K stay in the soil as a trace mineral, or will it be consumed/transported off like nitrogen (not evaporating, of course).

A little of both. K likes to stick to the CEC points of the soil, and that's absolutely bound up. What doesn't bind directly will still tend to hang around.

K's overall solubility is far lower than nitrogen, but higher than phosphorus (which hangs around practically forever).

Plants also use it, so some will get sucked up directly and integrated. That then remains in the plant material until it decays and moves back into the root zone, which takes a while. During that time period, K levels will drop, and more needs to be added until the system stabilizes.


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

>>"60% K2O soluble potassium."

Back, I was a little delayed this evening.

Yep, that's potash. Because of the incredibly slow availability, nobody puts that in their fertilizers (although natural ash fertilizers will contain potash). However, because of some chemical and regulation peculiarities, potassium numbers are always related to the potash equivalency.

Sensible, no, but we're all used to it anyway and don't think about it much--we just worry about the relative numbers.

If you can only get potassium chloride-based items, I can adjust the numbers for it, but the soil adjustment will take longer. I have to pull the amounts back to give the chloride ions time to stop bothering the other cations, and wash out of the soil profile. Chlorides are harsh and chlorine is, in and of itself, toxic to plants in anything but very limited amounts.

Sulfates play well with soil. In this case, they'll bind a bit of calcium (which they like better than potassium), but they're offset quite well by the now-binding potassium. Overall, the pH of a 1 molar solution is about six, or nothing to worry about as you won't get anywhere within a hundredth of a molar solution at any time.

You have the sulfur margin to play with, so some extra in that department doesn't bother me. While toxic at extraordinarily high levels, plants pretty much just shrug at any reasonable level of sulfates, absorb the sulfur, and use it.

One other thought for application is one of the hand-held whirlygig spreaders like they sell at most big box stores. They're made for smaller amounts of material.

If you go too low or too high, just adjust it the next time. There's plenty of margin of error in my numbers, although overapplication may result in more washing out of the soil profile and into deeper soils that don't need the potassium. Only so much can be bound at once, and if you read my recommendations to others, I've sometimes stepped amounts down to 1 pound per thousand due to sandy soils that simply can't integrate that much at once.

Now a warning: the amounts i gave you through next year are only until the next soil test. Some more might be required at that point depending on a number of unpredictable factors. I can't estimate if, for instance, March through May is going to be incredibly rainy and resources will leach out across the board at high speed.

Or, more likely, if the potassium added is going to cold-armor your lawn so well it stays up through February (not impossible, I have mine wearing plate mail and it never goes dormant...except last winter...it usually just slows down). That's going to consume more resources than a nice winter nap would.

I'm also a big potassium fan and set numbers higher than many other people would. Potassium (and calcium) are the two most often overlooked nutrients for the lawn, and far more important than most people think.

K gets relegated to the third position on the bag, calcium is never even listed. And yet K is the second most important resource in the grass, with calcium either a very close third or, in some circumstances, overtaking K for a tight second place.

Phosphorus is a distant fourth in either case, although soil levels of it need to be high due to tight chemical binding.


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RE: Got My Soil Results - What's Next?

That's a very interesting discussion on the importance of K. Who'da known?

I have one of those hand-held spreaders, but I just put down 3lb/k of calcitic lime and my spreader did fine on a setting of 3. So I should be fine at 2 lb/k with the K.

I'm just going to order a 50 lb bag of K online and pay what I have to. It sounds worth it, especially since I'll be using more probably after the next soil test.

My neighbors probably think I'm nuts because I'm out there just about every day spreading something on the lawn! Thanks again.


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