grass yellowing after compost tea application
I have a St. Augustine lawn that was put in 3 years ago when the house was built. First year it was beautiful, second was pretty good until the fall when I had some brown patch. I had it treated by a local company, and a fungicide of some sorts was applied.
In hindsight, I started developing a thatch problem about that time. Last spring there was a LOT of dead material left over and it made the new grass that was coming up look much thinner than all of the neighbors. (I hate that!) The rest of the year last year was pretty mediocre. I learned enough to cut back on watering some, but that was about the only effort I put into trying to solve the problem (except for a few weekends of trying to rake some of the dead material out).
This year is starting out exactly the same for me. So for the past several weeks, I've been scouring the web for hours on end making an honest effort to learn what's good and bad for a lawn.
Mechanical dethatching just seems like it will tear a St. Augustine lawn to shreds, so I've not been too interested in trying that. As of yet, I haven't found anyone that does aerating in town here... So I kept reading.
I finally found my way to several organic sites and the more I read, the more it makes complete and total sense to "be organic" when it comes to lawn care. I've been a Scott's user for many years. Never a soil test, just going by the bag's instructions.
So I do confess to some pretty poor decisions in the past now that I'm a little wiser. I just hope that the wisdom hasn't come too late.
I read that humates were good for helping the soil handle thatch better by making a better environment for the microbes. I purchased some Natural Guard Soil Activator and applied it at about 20 lb/1000 sq ft (bag indicated 20 - 30 lb if it was the first application). That was about 10 days ago.
So then I decided that I probably actually NEEDED microbes since decay wasn't keeping up with growth. I found compost tea at that point. I mixed up my first batch this past Thursday and applied it Sunday morning.
My compost came from Lowes as a bagged product. It was moist and smelled nice, so I went with it. I used a 10 gallon container, about 1/3 full of compost and the rest with water that I had "bubbled" with air stones for 24 hours to finish de-clorinating. I used 3 tablespoons of molasses for food when I mixed it all together. I stired it several times a day and always had two 5-inch air stones bubbling up through it. I brewed it outside in mild weather. About midway through, I added about 1 cup of corn meal (having dandelion problems this year... didn't "weed 'n' feed" last year).
I added a "whole house" chlorine filter to my waterhose to help limit chlorine contact with the tea... I have about 7000 sq ft of lawn and decided that a hose end sprayer would be ok to use with the filter.
I started spraying about 8:00am in beautiful weather, and was done by about 10:30. I applied roughly 6 gallons over 7000sq ft in this manner. I kept what I wasn't using aerated until the end. It had the "yeasty" smell that I had read to expect. It didn't smell foul at all.
Tonight, about 45 hours after applying, I went out and noticed that in much of the yard, there was a slightly different shade of yellow mixed in with the winter leftovers. I thought "wow, the little guys are already making a difference!" Upon closer inspection though, it's some of my GOOD blades that are turning yellow! Seems to be starting from the tip. I don't have just a whole lot of the green ones to spare, so I'm a little worried.
The weather's been very mild lately. The soil is still damp from the application a few days ago. I've cut way back on watering this year, but not to the point of drying the soil out. I was evidenlty overdoing it in previous years, so I'm probably closer to "normal" now in that department.
I did send off for a comprehensive soil test about 1 week ago and have not fertilized this year yet... Wanted to wait on the results. So it's possible that it's unrelated to the compost tea and I just have a defficiency that decided to make itself known at the same time.
If anyone's made it this far through my message, do you have any ideas, suggestions, or see flaws in my process so far? I know that I'm getting a late start on learning all of this... Should have been doing the learning over the winter!
Thank you for your time,