Milorganite-who likes it and why?

the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)April 9, 2008

I really like this stuff for my garden all around, but the first thing in the growing season it does a great job on is the lawn. It makes the grass that deep green that looks so healthy and seems to keep the grass growing well right into mid summer when I put down another application. In my garden I am growing 20 foot plus Banana plants, 13 foot giant cannas and super large elephant ears with ease with Milorganite.

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morpheuspa

13 foot giant cannas

I detest you and the entire state in which you live. :-)

Mine usually hit six to seven feet with flowers the size of soup bowls, but they never get that tall. I tend to feed organically with soybean meal, alternating with alfalfa, cracked corn, whatever I can get my hands on, and Milorganite as well.

Today, actually, is the day the prep goes down. Fifty pounds for 2,000 square feet of gardens. It's going to stink, but I go into planting in less than a month.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 3:19PM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

Morpheus:

If you live in PA, depending on what part, you too could probably get Giant Peach Cannas to grow to at least 10 feet with Milorganite. What part of PA are you gardening in? I would be happy to let you dig a few of these monsters up from my garden as their tubers survived the winter. Have you tried hardy banana, Musa Basjoo or Japanese Snow banana? They grow back in the ground every year and I have gotten them to 20 feet in height with a liberal application of Milorganite and good watering. I also use corn gluten on the yard with the Milorganite as it tends to keep the weeds from getting a hold of anything.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 3:59PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Anyone reading my old posts on Milorganite would remember that I pretty much detested the stuff for every reason possible. I have since learned that some of what I thought I understood about it was incorrect. So now I have fewer reasons to hate it, but I would never use it on my garden as long as better alternatives were available. Why? Heavy metals. The Washington State Department of Agriculture tested thousands of fertilizers for heavy metals. About half the products tested failed the test. Of those that passed, Milorganite was number 20 from the bottom of the list for total heavy metals. There were only 19 other products that were worse with Ironite taking last place "honors."

But my position has softened considerably from just a year ago. Now, rather than accusing you of poisoning the world (which is probably a wild overstatement) with a useless material (which I have learned is clearly wrong), I just would like to remind you that the normal ground grains grown for feed and used for fertilizer have zero heavy metals. I get the same deep dark green using ordinary corn meal.

The Milorganite product, or a full composting, is probably the highest and best use of sewage. Dumping it in a lake or river is not a good idea.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 5:01PM
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morpheuspa

What part of PA are you gardening in?

As far east as you can go, and halfway up the state--pretty much right at the thinnest part of NJ, where PA and NJ meet.

I have a combination of Red King Humbert and Yellow King Humbert, lovingly lifted and stored every year, a grand total of about 15 now. They look kind of Ronald McDonald-ish, but I keep the patch fairly small for that reason and let the blues around them set them off.

They don't get very large, per se, but really that's pretty close to the right size for my garden.

I made the "mistake" the first year of putting in cosmos. By the end of the year they were seven feet tall with stems just about half as thick as my wrist. They were a real joy to take down at the end of the year... My mother's response was basically, "Cry me a friggin' river." Hers never made it much over two feet tall.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 6:36PM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

Many crops are grown with biosolids and in many cases the heavy metals are not taken up in detectable levels because they are so low to begin with, for example the EPA load level for copper is 278 years of annual application and 345 years for lead. A bag of Milorganite applied each season will take many more years than we will be alive to even come close to these levels, that's why it isn't even worth worrying about. Believe me, if I found solid research that indicated it was harmful, I wouldn't even consider using it. The independent research I have seen indicates it is very safe to use with no risk to speak of.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 7:52PM
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smitty5952

13 foot cannas! Are those the green leaved variety or the darker leaved ones? I know at Hershey Park which is near me they grow the darker leaved varieties with yellow blooms to about 8 feet. Very impressive!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 2:23PM
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Kathy Bochonko

So does anyone use Milorganite exclusively on their lawn? Or would you only use it in a rotations with other products/grains etc? I did CGM in mid March, was trying to decide what to use on my next feed. Maybe I'll try Milorganite.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 10:49PM
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rdak(z5MI)

I use soybean meal more often on the lawn but sometimes use Milorganite. It's good stuff IMHO.

All that talk about heavy metals was WAY overblown IMHO.

I wonder if that came from a Chaulker/Scott myth paper? LOL!!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 7:13AM
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morpheuspa

One of my parents' neighbors uses Milorganite exclusively and has a very nice lawn. All things considered, it outperforms my parents' lawn, but underperforms mine. Since I don't know the exact grasses used, and do know they feed considerably less and less often than I would, that's not all that surprising.

I wouldn't use anything exclusively, but I'm a perfectionist. I prefer to mix it up a little bit to give everybody a chance to eat.

Since Milorganite is basically ground-up dead bacteria and kilned...er, stuff, I don't see much issue with variety.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 7:23AM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

In my back yard I think the clover patches are really taking advantage of the Milorganite right now. The lawn is starting to look very nice after the rain we had earlier in the week with more on the way tomorrow.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 12:53PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

All that talk about heavy metals was WAY overblown IMHO.
I wonder if that came from a Chaulker/Scott myth paper? LOL!!

I'm laughing too. That might be a private joke over here. Just about anything you read in the newspaper either was or is overblown. The only thing close to science I've seen on the subject was from Washington State. Milorganite is clearly low on the approved list, but it was approved. Again, my problem is not so much with the product (anymore) as it is with the plethora of alternatives that have zero metals.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 9:43PM
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rdak(z5MI)

Thanks for the info. on Washington State Dave.

Yes, I use other stuff also. Mainly soybean meal, alfalfa pellets and cracked corn/cornmeal.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 6:18AM
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maplerbirch(4)

Does anyone have an idea how long it takes for the nutrients in Milorganite to become available to the grass, when spread topically? Assuming adequate water and temps.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 5:22PM
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decklap(5IL)

I like it because the deer don't. Its not registered as a repellant so the label makes no overt claims at all but many people, myself included, have had very good experiences with Milorganite dispersing the deer.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 5:26PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Does anyone have an idea how long it takes for the nutrients in Milorganite to become available to the grass, when spread topically?

This is an excellent question. For those of you who use it, does it green up your lawn faster than 3 weeks?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 7:08PM
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morpheuspa

Does anyone have an idea how long it takes for the nutrients in Milorganite to become available to the grass, when spread topically?

Assuming good ground temperatures above 50, I see a difference in 1 week, building for at least another one before it doesn't seem to increase any more. All things considered, the primary effect seems to slow around 6 weeks in.

Comparatively, soybean meal takes about three weeks, but I still see the effects 8 weeks in.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 7:37PM
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m1shmosh

At least when temps were in the 80's last year, there was a pronounced effect just 1 week after application. One of my neighbors asked what the hell I was using.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 7:40PM
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rdak(z5MI)

I notice it working in hot weather in about 1 week also.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 9:26AM
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decklap(5IL)

I'd be inclined to say that it isn't the product so much as it is the level of activity in the soil. Feathermeal tends to be slower regardless because of the keratin but in my experience Milorganite becomes available pretty soon. A week isn't off base at all in healthy soils

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 10:18AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Thanks for the info. So if someone wanted a "fast" green up with organic fertilizer, a product like Milorganite (or Hou-Actinite from Houston) should work. Hmmm. Well that's another plus for Milorganite, and it is worth pointing out for those who want to use it, but I'm still not using it.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 11:36AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

The quickest acting I've ever seen was Nature's Guide 9-2-2 which consists of chicken poops fortified with urea. My neighbors who are trying their best to grow their lawn organically tried this product and their lawn went from light green to dark green in a week. I was that impressed... Of course, their bermuda lawn was fertilized only once and faded away to light green after a couple months...

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 7:53PM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

Milorganite also seems to make a very even green up in my lawn and has worked fairly quickly in the past.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 12:51AM
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m1shmosh

What is up with the new packaging (35lb bags) for 2008? It is now 5-2-0 (instead of 6-2-0) and the 35lb bag still covers 2,500 sq.ft. Accordingly, spreader setting have been downscaled.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 6:19PM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

I guess to keep the price competitive and the transportation costs lower they reduced the size of the bag. The lower nitrogen is a mystery to me too. BTW, the Milorganite I put down a few weeks ago has incorporated itself into the soil and the grass is really, really looking healthy and green. I love this stuff and at $8-10 per bag you can't beat the bang for your buck on it.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 8:50AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

...you can't beat the bang for your buck on it.

Unless you get 70-pound bags of coffee for free from Starbucks or your local coffee shop.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 10:56AM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

dchall: That is a price that is impossible to beat! I got two 40 lb bags of coffee grounds from them and used UCG on everything. UCG make a great soil amendment too.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 11:26PM
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grayentropy

I like milorganite because it works fast and is a cheaper N2 source for me than SBM. It is great for the late fall winterizing as well.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 9:04PM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

Eventhough they appear to have reduced the size of the bag by 5 lbs, it is still a great surce of nitrogen and a cheap one at that. It has been raining here and this stuff has made my grass in my yard look like the British Isles.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 12:51AM
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v1rtu0s1ty(5a)

Just saw this thread. Last year, I applied cgm, cm, sbm, alfalfa meal and act. However this year, the price increased so much so looks like I'm going to hold off on it. :( I saw milorganite at Lowes for $10.97/bag. I bought 3 bags. I applied it last Apr 19. The one I bought were still 6-2-0 and 40 lbs. Looks like it's old stock from last year.

I'll post progress pictures like what I did last year.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 2:43AM
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soccer_dad

I have never used any, but I am looking for a very dry pelleted material to see if I can get some compost mixed in to spread. Is Milorganite dry or does it have a moisture content? Any other relatively inexpensive organic fert? I have a bag of rabbit food, but the pellets are on the large size.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 8:03PM
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morpheuspa

Optimally, it's dry. The last bag I got had obviously, courtesy of my Home Despot, been left in water and the bottom quarter was quite wet.

That's never happened to me before, though.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 8:47PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Is there a reason why there's no potassium added?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 9:36PM
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tamparookie

Hey, sorry for bringing this thread back from the dead, but how long does Milorganite keep? I have a bag in my shed that the previous owners of my house left. It's probably two years old........still good or should I trash it?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 1:06PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

As long as that Milorganite is dry it will last forever, but it is hydroscopic (will absorb moisture from the air) and that can cause it to clump and be hard to apply with a spreader.
The test cited earlier was done many years ago when Milorganite did have a heavy metal contaimination problem. Since then the Milwaukee Sewage District has taken steps to keep those heavy metals, and other contaminents, out of the end product and today there should be no concern about that.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 8:50AM
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