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Organic Newbie

Posted by alorganic (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 14, 08 at 10:19

Hi all,
Just wanted to introduce myself and get some ideas. I moved into a new home in Huntsville, AL back in November. new lawn and I have a ton of weeds. Back in early January I put on some lawn starter fertilizer. The lawn is just starting to take root and starting to turn green. I got to talking with my wife about our last home and we had a 6 year old dog we had to put down because of liver failure. I'm not saying the lawn chemicals did it, but don't want a repeat. Anyway, not to be too long winded, I was hoping to get some tips on starting an organic lawn care program on a newly established lawn.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Organic Newbie

doing some research, I plan on getting some compost from the local feed store and some corn meal. I'll put the compost on, wait a few days and put the corn meal on and hope for the best...looks like I'll need to order some Beneficial nematodes to spray all over the yard.

Am I on the right track?

RE: Organic Newbie

Compost is an excellent way to start/transition into organic lawn care. Corn Meal is very very mild in terms of fertility and is mainly used as a natural fungicide. You could apply both at the same time. In fact I would put the your Grain of choice down first then compost on top. Be sure not to smother your lawn with the compost. As for grains 10-20lbs per 1000sqft is recommend.

Alternating between Soybean Meal and Alfalfa Pellets might be a better bet. If you've had fungus you could also incorporate Corn Meal into your feeding. Either/all will work, its your choice.

Tell us a few more things so we can fully help:

You location? (not zone)
lawn type?
Current condition of lawn.
Soil type?
How much sun does the area receive?

RE: Organic Newbie

Thanks Skoot,
I am in Huntsville, Alabama. I have bermuda on the front and sides of the house...I plan on seeding the back yard next year with bermuda. My lawn was newly sodded back in November. The yard will be in the sun constantly til a few newly planted trees grow in a couple of years.

The biggest issue, will be the sod was placed on top of graded Alabama dirt/clay.

Since this is brand new sod, I don't have any issue's except for the weeds growing in between the sod.

RE: Organic Newbie

You need to visit okcdan's profile page here at GardenWeb. That is just about the bible for bermuda.

Compost is okay but if you want to save a lot of money, skip it and just get the grains down. If you have issues with fertility later, then you can consider spending the money for compost. I have not used compost in 10 years and was not impressed with the results when I did. I don't consider your soil an issue. Soil becomes an issue when it is poisoned. I have a dead spot where I built a tree house for my kids back in about 1997. I sawed the treated lumber in that spot and grass has not grown since. With the very first application of anything organic, your soil will improve dramatically.

For bermuda, as skoot cat said, corn meal is very light fertilizer. You want to at least go with alfalfa or soy is better. To really do bermuda right requires a lot of time and energy. If you don't need to do it right, you will have to accept some of the issues others have with weeds, scalping, and color.

Here is a link that might be useful: okcdan's profile page

RE: Organic Newbie

I have the same question. Live about 30 miles west of Boston. This will be our third summer in this house. When we bought the house the lawn was 90% crabgrass, so I will admit to using chemicals to cut it down to <5% (and I'd like to keep it low). I have overseeded with kgb, mulch, mow high, water deeply and infrequently, etc.. But, we have 2 young kids so I'd like to avoid the chemicals.

Where should I start?

RE: Organic Newbie

Your choice. You can start with compost or you can start with soybean meal, alfalfa, whatever. The application rate for grains is from 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

You can start to apply organic fertilizer when the early flowers start to bloom. There may be weeds or wild flowers growing but the organic fertilizer takes about three weeks to show results.

RE: Organic Newbie

Thanks for the advice everyone. You are very helpful and from dchall's advice, I'll start out with the soybean meal and see how everything takes. I should take a picture of the yard right now and post updates as the spring/summer goes along.

RE: Organic Newbie


Im also starting out, second year lawn, so im going to skip the compost.

my first application will be SBM. When should this go down? (KBG mix - Upstate, NY)

From there I'll alternate SBM and alfalfa. What about blood meal? How often do I space out my feedings? Im thinking 10-13lbs per 1000.

Sound like a good plan?

RE: Organic Newbie

If you have not already read the FAQ for Organic Lawn Care in the Organic Gardening forum, take a half hour and do that.

I put my first application of organic fertilizer down 3 weeks prior to the last frost date for my area. For me that was back in February. I apply it on Washington's Birthday so that I can keep to my schedule of applying fertilizer on the federal holidays. I apply again on Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving.

10-13 for soybean meal sounds good to me.

RE: Organic Newbie

about three weeks ago I applied SBM to my front and sides of my yard (bermuda). Thursday night, I applied beneficial nematodes to the entire yard and bushes. Some ant piles had already started in the back yard. I will try and take pictures to show the progress later today. About to go out kayaking.

Also I will post pictures of the back yard, it is full of fescue and rye. I am not doing anything with it atm, as I want to see if the fescue will last through the summer before making a decision.

RE: Organic Newbie

For all those not opposed to Milorganite type stuff:
If you had access to "BioBlend" for free would you spread this stuff on your lawn? or top dress shrubs and trees. I don't think I would use it for vegetable garden though.(of course if I show up to get it and it smells I probably won't get any.)

Here's the link:

Tell me what you think. I wonder deep down if they will decide this type stuff is bad for us to be putting out?

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