Please point me in the right direction for an organic lawn

ICutUp(Fl 9)May 29, 2007

Hello. I feel a bit lost even after reading many good things on your most excellent site. We have a chemical free St Augustine backyard in Central Fl (zone 9) with many weeds. I would like to go organic. I am experimenting with baking soda on the dollar weed and it seems to be working. Will this hurt the soil? What should I do next? Compost? Or can I skip to some type of fertilizer? Will corn gluten meal hurt pets?Is CGM better than the others? I really need someone to give me a step by step approach. I did read the FAQs, but I am floundering.


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Please keep in mind I'm just learning to but I downloaded PDF file for Deuley's
little Texas compost tea maker (google search).I have bought all the suggested things needed to build it brewed some tea applied it. Also reading this is the most effective way to rebuild your soil after BS.
Someone can correct me if this is not true.
Maybe someone else can reply to your other questions.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 9:53PM
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The link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Deuley's Tea Maker

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 12:49AM
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How is the Baking Soda working on the Dollarweed?

I also have an Organic St.Augustine lawn (2nd year) in West Central FL with a dog and kids that love to play in the lawn.

To answer some of your questions I think that: 1. any time is a good time to put down compost especially in FL with our sandy soil. 2. Its too late for CGM as it's used mainly as a pre-emergent for weeds and no it will not hurt your pets, although they might try to lick the lawn. Just water it in and you'll be fine. Try putting it down in Mid Feb or before your lawn is actively growing

Any of the grains listed on the Organic Lawn Care FAQ will work. I just recently found out that you should mix up the grains you put on your lawn. ex. bacterial food Alfalfa Pellets. Fungal foods Corn Meal and Soybean Meal.

Im going to alternate between CGM (Late Winter/early spring) Alfalfa Pellets(early spring), Soybean Meal (late Spring and early Summer) and regular corn meal (monthly) as I get Brown Patch every Fall and either Alfalfa or Soybean meal in the Fall. All applied at the 10-20lbs per 1000sqft.

Last but not least. Mow High (3-4in) and frequntly with a sharp mower blade. Water early in the moring 3/4 to 1in. once a week, twice a week if you must, as our soil dries out quickly. Let the lawn tell you when it needs watering. When half the lawns blades have started to curl or wilt its time to water.

Good Luck, and let me know about the Baking Soda

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 1:59PM
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ICutUp(Fl 9)

The baking soda does kill the dollarweed. It turns it black.The grass must be wet first and sometimes it takes a few days.However, I don't know how much it hurts the soil. It does not seem to hurt the St Augustine grass, but there are other grasses mixed in and they were affected. So, now we have barren black patches along with the yellow and brown patches we already had.LOL. I guess compost is the next step then?? The b.soda did not seem to kill any other weeds. I have used vinegar before and it kills everything. And I know not to mix b.soda and vineger together or we will have a giant volcano in our yard. LOL. Remember school science projects? We are getting rain, finally, so maybe that will help. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 8:11AM
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ICutUp(Fl 9)

Skoot cat,
One more thing---the b.soda does turn the St. Aug. grass orange. On another message board, I read that the discoloration only lasts a couple of weeks though. I'll let you know. I don't think I am going to put any more down until I see if the orange goes away. A neighbor told me it works, so that is why I tried it, but we have so much of the dollar weed, that I am worried about making the soil too basic. I guess I'll go buy some compost. I was thinking about calling Jolly Green Planet Organic lawn co. for a free estimate. It is new here.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 10:14AM
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The baking soda also took out all the fungi--good, neutral, and bad--in the soil where you soaked it. They'll be back as they reincurse from the surrounding areas.

You can apply compost or compost tea if you like, it won't hurt and may very well help (opinions here differ).

Really, we can all be confusing. We're all looking for the Perfect, Flawless Lawn so we try different things. The basics can be very simple for any lawn.

I'm not familiar with St. Aug, so couldn't tell you feeding patterns or whatnot, but I'm sure somebody can give you a quick and dirty method of getting an organic lawn to look good or great.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 12:48PM
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ICutUp(Fl 9)

Thanks. I am looking for the cheapest most effective way to go organic on the St Augustine grass. I can spend the time and I'll put my all into it, but I just need direction. This forum is helping. I was wondering if I could skip the compost since it has been over a year since it was touched by chemicals.Or do I need it just in the areas where I used the baking soda? Can I go straight to a grain or can I use an organic fertilizer like Ringers instead? I called a feed store here, but they don't have soybean meal.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 3:02PM
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Again, I'm no wizard on St. Aug, but some of the general stuff I can answer.

Yes, you can skip the compost if you want. Bacteria and fungal spores blow around and you picked up billions to trillions to quadrillions over the last year. Rain delivered plenty and washed around what you already had after the sodium bicarb diluted out. Feed 'em and they'll start merrily reproducing and eating and dying and feeding the grasses the way they're supposed to.

Others will tell you not to skip it, but again, opinions on it differ. I tend to lean toward not using it unless you chemically treated large sections of lawn for years. I skipped it on mine and my home was built on cornfield--the soil was tapped out.

You can either go straight to grains or use Ringers. Ringers is more expensive per pound, the grains tend to be the cheaper solution. If travel adds enough gas cost maybe the Ringers works out better. However, either decision will work out fine.

You don't have to use soybean meal. Corn meal, alfalfa, they work fine, too. Some people use the free coffee grounds from Starbuck's. Every time you mulch mow, you're adding organics, too. However, all of the others I mentioned are lower in nitrogen and take more to equal the same amount of nitrogen for your lawn.

Just for fun, make sure to photograph your lawn before the feed and about a month after (organics take about three weeks to start showing a change). You may not be quite amazed at the difference, but you should see it plainly.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 11:50PM
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You're doing well icutup. What morpheuspa about b.soda is correct. It's non-targeted meaning it will anythink it touches. Follow what they suggest. They are the same guys that help me back in April. I'm very happy with my lawn now. But of course, I still need to work on other parts.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 10:55PM
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All the feed stores in my area do not stock soybean meal either, but they can order some for me. I just have to wait a few weeks until the shipment arrives. Call around, you should be able to find some.

Also, I think all your above ideas sound fine. Skip the compost if you want. like morpheuspa said "Bacteria and fungal spores blow around and you picked up billions to trillions to quadrillions over the last year." Just Feed them.

Remember with organics it takes time. You are build the soil. Go ahead use the ringers, its not going to hurt anything. Then maybe mix it up with some Alfalfa Pellets next time. They are very cheap. Alfalfa has a low N value, but are great for building rich soil. Another Plus is Alfalfa contains the hormone, Triacontanol, a plant growth regulator. Great for the ROOTS. Or, There is another product I use called Luscious Lawn & Garden by Bradfield Organics. Its alfalfa based. It also contains molasses, which soil microbes love. Kinda low N value, but a high K value which is great for Florida soil, which usually lacks potassium (K). Do a search for it.

You might what to check out my post I ran a few weeks back. It contains a ton of helpful info from everyone. You can learn from my mistakes or temporary set backs as I like to call them. Link Below

Here is a link that might be useful: Organic St.Augustine

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 9:34AM
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