Organic Fertilizer except Fall Application

ricka23(Z5)September 20, 2010


I've been applying organic fertilizer for the last 2 years or so. I notice that some here do organic except for their fall application. What is the reasoning behind that?

Thank you.

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There has been some recent research that supports applying fast release high nitrogen fertilizer after the top growth has stopped, but while the grass is still green. Organic fertilizers require microbial activity to make the nitrogen available for the plants to use. This is a comparatively slow process and also only works if the soil is warm enough to support the microbial activity. For that late fall application, the soil is probably too cool, so people who want that boost use synthetics.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 12:24AM
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Probably due to misunderstanding soils. There seem to be some people thoroughly convinced that all soil bacterial activity stops after the first frost when reality is that it takes quite some time for the soil to cool down enough for that to happen. Around here, West Central Michigan, soil bacterial activity does not begin to slow down until late October, to maybe mid November.
I have seen great changes in grass growth after mulch mowing the tree leaves into the soil, and I have seen the earthworms work into the soil mulched, shredded leaves 3 inches thick before the snow flies.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 7:59AM
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I'm in West Michigan and it's been relatively warm so maybe I'll go with the organic.

Thanks for the response.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 12:32PM
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The late fall high nitrogen application is done after it has cooled to the point where microbial activity has slowed to the point where the microbes would not release enough of the nitrogen to be of enough benefit. There's no misunderstanding soils involved. If you apply when the soils are still warm enough to support the microbial activity, you're not doing the application that those who do the late fall synthetic application are doing. You're doing the last organic application before the late fall synthetic application.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 8:23PM
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Most of the time the soil around me is still quite warm through Thanksgiving, so warm that snow seldom sticks even when we get around 6 inches. On the rare occassion that the weather is very cool from mid August on and the soil does cool down we may see snow stay in mid October, but that does not occur very often. Soil bacteria will be active even when soil temperatures are in the 40's.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 7:34AM
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I am in central NJ and can i use the organic fertilizer now for the lawn? is the soil warm enough?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 11:02PM
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As of yesterday morning my plants, including the grass, was still growing quite well and though highly unusual I have not yet had a frost here. Many years up here, further north than New Jersey, I have had to mow the grass into the middle of November because it kept growing.
So the short answer to your quaestoin is Yes, you can still use organic plant foods for your lawn.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 7:46AM
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Thankyou.I went homedepot now and all i could find there was miogranite and Scotts organic choice lawn food.
which is better? are these two different from SBM, corm meal and alfalfa pellets. i dont have any clue for what these meals are and when to use them.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 11:44AM
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If you are close enough, The Belle Mead Co-op, has SBM. Call ahead to make sure they get some bags ready for you. I went there about 6 weeks ago and I believe it was $15 for a 50lb bag.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 11:14AM
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