Organic fertilize program??

sambo725(9)January 26, 2010

I am pretty new to whole organic thing, but definitely want to try it. I have been doing organic gardening for a year now, and want to go all organic on my yard. I live in Florida and have ST. Augustine grass. If anybody can tell me what to use and when to use it I would really appreciate it. I have no idea what to use on a yard, blood and bone meal seem way too expensive to use on grass. I really like the idea of not using poison on my yard any more... Please help



Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Look for Organic Lawn Care FAQ. There's a copy on the Gardenweb organic forum and copies on lawn forums all over the Internet.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 1:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There does not seem to be much good information about organic care of St. Augustine grass but that does start with the basics, a good soil well endowed with organic matter that is evenly moist but well drained. That is easier to do when establishing a new lawn but can still be done with an established one. Move away from the concept of feeding the lawn, fertilizing, and move toward the idea of feeding the soil. Start with a good, reliable soil test so you know what your soils pH and nutrient balance is. These simple soil tests can also help,
1) Structure. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. A good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.

  1. Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drains too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer your soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.
you learn more about your soil and what you need to do to turn it into that good, healthy soil that will grow a strong and healthy lawn.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 8:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

There does not seem to be much good information about organic care of St. Augustine grass...

Wha?? Probably 80% of what I write is about organic care of St Aug. What are you saying kimmsr ;-)

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 1:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"There does not seem to be much good information about organic care of St. Augustine grass...

Wha?? Probably 80% of what I write is about organic care of St Aug. What are you saying kimmsr ;-)"

He must be saying that what you write doesn't amount to good information (ducks and runs).

I'm kidding, of course.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2010 at 3:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I think that's exactly what he's saying!!!

kimmsr, do you want to step outside and settle this???


    Bookmark   January 31, 2010 at 9:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the advice???

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 7:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dave, nothing you write appears on a web search for organic care of St. Augustine grass.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 6:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Okay. You got me on a technicality. I write about organic lawn care, not necessarily about organic St Augustine lawns.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 3:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Their granular lawn fertilizer is 100% peat humus. That's not much in the way of readily available microbe food. It's already decomposed about as far as it can go. What microbes need is fresh food like what is supplied in more conventional organic fertilizers. They need food like corn, wheat, alfalfa, cottonseed, etc.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 12:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)


DChall and I have been around for like 5 years helping many others with st augustine lawn. organic program is SAME regardless of which type of grass. It is really more about proper maintenance. It's very simple for st augustine grass...

1) Mow high (3-4 inches)
2) water deeply and infrequently
3) fertilize every few months. Find cheapest organic fertilizer from animal feed store (cottonseed meal, alfalfa pellets, soybean meal)

That's about it. Compost is not needed at least at frequent basis like you always recommended but in my opinion, it's a waste of money and time. If the lawn is in bad shape, maybe ONE time application may be needed to get the ball roling.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 2:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Hi Lou. Don't want to sound like I'm butting in, but here goes. I agree that maintenance is more important in lawn care than the type of grass. kimmsr has a longer history on the organic forum than in the lawn forum and has taught me some things. After years of reading subtle changes in the way he words his messages, together with some other things I've read, I believe kimmsr has a program that makes considerable sense. I butted heads with him on the over use of compost for years, but now I think he has (re)discovered some things that others have overlooked. Before kimmsr there was a writer on the organic forum who talked about composting his lawn every fall. That was about the only thing I disagreed with him about, too. Now I think I understand why it works. For those of you who don't care about why I think it works, you can stop reading now.

The reason I think it works was revealed in a booklet by a Russian author from the 1800s. There is one reason why this works but it depends on two physical phenomena. The first is the idea that compost absorbs ammonia gas compounds which are either in the air or byproducts of the decomposition of nitrogen compounds in the soil. It is well known that covering a smelly compost pile with more compost will stop the smell. That's because compost absorbs the smells. The second phenomenon is the fact that compost absorbs humidity from both the soil and air. I guess a corollary phenomenon is that ammonia gas will dissolve into water very readily. When the dew point temperature is reached in the moist, ammonia filled compost, what happens is that the ammonia saturated moisture drips out of the compost and down into the soil.

Thus I have tempered my negative opinion of the frequent use of compost pending any more information on the subject. It seems to work for a lot of people, so maybe that is why.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 11:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Some really good information posted here. Just want to add a few tidbits on what I've noticed from my experiences.

Feed your lawn a VARIETY of natural fertilizers. Just like it's good for your body to eat a well balanced diet, same goes for the soil. You don't want to just give it cottonseed meal all the time. MIx it up. I use alfalfa in early spring (it gives off some heat so i avoid it in summertime, also makes acidifies soil a bit too), commercial product that has feather meal and bat guano at about April, a different commercial product in summer that has feather meal and turkey litter, and in fall I apply cottonseed meal (only use this once a year due to possible pesticide residue). Also use compost in spring and dry molasses throughout the year. Have seen great results and soil is getting better every year.

Some may say that is a lot of applications, but that is what is needed to get the soil going and also to combat the fierce heat I see in the Houston area. I've gradually seen my fertilizer requirements go down and you will to.

One thing to emphasize since you will be in a similar heat zone is to make sure your fertilizer has enough potassium. A lot of fertilizers may be deficient in this area. A good natural source of potassium is K-mag. I add a little of this to the fertilizer in Summer and Fall.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 12:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I agree with solc. When I wrote the Organic Lawn Care FAQ I was trying to keep it simple; however, I agree with the multi-grain approach whole heartedly. Used coffee grounds are great and free, too.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 5:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm in the same boat as the OP. In FL and have been doing an organic garden.

I read the FAQ. Is there a "complete" list of meals that can be used? Some have to be better than others right?

When you talk about coffee grinds does that mean you are spreading them all over the lawn and that is considered one feeding?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 1:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have read one should leave the grass clippings rather than raking and removing them. Clippings are supposedly a good organic fertilizing and soil amending mechanism. What do you think?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 1:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
WestchesterGrower(Lower NY)

Definitely, Jim. One of the experts will chime in with better reasoning, but as you note it naturally adds organic matter and nitrogen to the soil and really if you have good mowing practices and lush grass they should not even be noticable (at least they aren't from what I've seen). I guess it is a different story if you let the grass get out of hand and you have clumps of grass.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 7:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

gatornation81, if you look at the labels on all the organic fertilizers you see there is some variety of materials used. Any ground up nut, bean or seed makes a good fertilizer because it has protein in it. Protein is the nitrogen carrier. After the protein has been decomposed by the soil microbes, those microbes create plant food out of it. Soy bean meal has the most protein of all the common grains. Corn and coffee grounds have the least. Still, I use corn almost exclusively. Alfalfa has more protein than corn and is available everywhere.

Mulch mowing is what everyone should do. Removing the cut grass is the same as removing fertilizer. Most grass clippings contain protein which helps and cuts down on the amount of fertilizer you need to keep the yard dark green. If you mow only 1/3 of the grass tips off, those should fall down into the remaining turf. If you mow too much off or you mow too low, the clippings might not have anywhere to go. Mow higher next time. Mowing from 4 inches to 3 inches is good. I try to mow from 5 inches to 4.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 1:26AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Help, switching to organic lawn
So, I aerated and reseeded my bare(dead, dying, weed...
Thatch Problem // Missing Opportunity to Aerate
I live in zone 5b and have approximately 1" of...
Questions about overseeding
Hi all, soon I will be overseeding my Tall Fescue with...
Keeping Grass Away from Downspout Extensions
Our downspouts go underground and then come up in the...
Helping neglected lawn recover
Hi We bought our house last winter. It was a rental...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™