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I have several questions

Posted by libbyliz N. UT, zone 5? (My Page) on
Wed, Apr 18, 07 at 18:11

I'm thinking of replacing the Scott's recommended program that I've applied inconsistently [1 bag of Turfbuilder w/ Halts in the early spring (never did this step until this year), 1 bag of something with weed control in late spring (think I only did this once so far, forgot the name of it), 1 bag of Summer Guard (never did this step), 1 bag of Fall/Winterizer (think I only did this for the first time last year)] with organic, but I have several questions, for now, that need answered first.

What's the purpose of corn meal versus corn gluten meal?

Why does soybean meal need applied twice a month?

Is this the most expensive of the ground grains?

Can't it be applied in the summer, just one time since corn meal gets applied in early spring or any time, alfalfa meal gets applied in the fall, & any other ground grain gets applied in May, July, Sept & Nov?

What is the names & purposes of "other ground grain"?

How many bags will I be buying & applying the whole growing season?

I want the least messy, least expensive, least storage room needed, least stinky, least preparation needed, least bothersome application approach.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: I have several questions

Well, I finally found the Organic FAQs so I was able to answer a couple of my questions, but the others above & below remain open!

I see compost is necessary to bring beneficial microbes to the soil. The above noted grains are protein-based & feed the microbes, EVERY FEW MONTHS.

This step is not something I look forward to doing. It can't be delivered (military installation, security, red tape...) & it's going to be sheer hell getting hubby to take his woodwork hauling truck to buy a load & help me put it on the lawn.

-Corn meal is like an anti-fungal, not a fertilizer.

-Corn Gluten Meal is like a pre-emergent weed control agent.

What acts like a fertilizer though?


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RE: I have several questions

Sorry about this!

I was reminded that he didn't want to get a load last year when we discussed top-dressing the low-lying areas of the lawn. It wasn't because of getting his truck dirty, but because of the cost involved for a yard that's not ours. Maybe it was the work involved too. =P

I didn't check into the cost for delivery & call around to see if it's allowed by housing & the military base. But hubby won't go for the cost if it is allowed.

I was also "reminded" that we're leaving behind this rental home's lawn come fall or winter. Hopefully we'll be buying our first home in the central US.

So I'll continue to learn about Organic Lawn Care for a future home's lawn since nice landscaping adds to the value! ;-)


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RE: I have several questions

I'll take your original list as you asked them.

What's the purpose of corn meal versus corn gluten meal?

Ordinary corn meal is a fertilizer. It also has antifungal qualities in that it encourages the growth of the Trichoderma (try ko DER mah) species of microbial fungus eaters. Corn meal has less protein than many other ground grains, so it is somewhat less effective than other sources. It is also less expensive and usually more available. Ordinary corn meal has also been found to have a mild preemergence effect on seeds. Corn gluten meal is found to have a stronger preemergence seed control effect. If you happen to apply it when seeds are sprouting, the root will be inhibited from taking hold in the soil.

Why does soybean meal need applied twice a month?

You were probably reading about fertilizing bermuda grass. If you want a continually dark green bermudagrass lawn, and you want it to be organic, the best you can do is soy applied twice a month. Even that is asking a lot from an organic program. Bermuda can take all the nitrogen you can give it.

Is this the most expensive of the ground grains?

Soy is the most expensive of the grains I've found. I've seen it at almost a dollar per pound.

Can't it be applied in the summer, just one time since corn meal gets applied in early spring or any time, alfalfa meal gets applied in the fall, & any other ground grain gets applied in May, July, Sept & Nov?

Any grain can be applied any day of the year. If you want the preemergent effect, you can apply corn gluten meal any day of the year. The problem is timing for the invisible seeds you have on your soil.

What is the names & purposes of "other ground grain"?

Flax, cottonseed, coffee, milo, mung (not in this hemisphere), rice, wheat (common flour), alfalfa. All are fertilizers because they all have protein. If they have any side benefits like corn and corn gluten meals, we are not aware of them.

How many bags will I be buying & applying the whole growing season?

You can use as much or as little as you want. Your first application is the most important. It will take your soil from unfed to fed. That's a huge step. After that, even if you don't do anything else, you have literally kick started a chain of events that will take months to return to the unfed condition. Determine how many square feet you have to fertilize and divide by 1000. If you have 5000 square feet, divide by 5000 and you get 1. You'll need 1 bag minimum. If you have an acre (43260 square feet), divide by 5000 and you get 8.7 bags. That's a minimum. At most you can triple these numbers without any issues. If you use more than triple all at once, you risk getting quite a smell working against you. The grass should be okay but the sour smell will not be. Basically you'll get yeast growing on it and end up with a 'sour mash' smell. Pretty gross.

I want the least messy, least expensive, least storage room needed, least stinky, least preparation needed, least bothersome application approach.

That's why I wrote about corn meal. I could have picked coffee because it's free, but it stains everything it touches. Smells good, but you'll be washing it off your hands and clothes. I could have picked soy but it's expensive and I can't find it everywhere I go. I apply everything by hand, like I'm feeding chickens. Sometimes my daughters get involved and it turns into a food fight (try that with Scotts!). Buy only enough to use it all up during the growing season. If you have any left over going into winter, toss it on the grass. By spring it would have been 50% bugs.


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RE: I have several questions

Thanks for answering!

LOL about the food fight part!!!

Before I even started (last week?) posting to the Lawn forum I told hubby I was tired of the possibility of inhaling chemical dust, that I should have been wearing masks this whole time, & how I hated getting it on my clothes, shoes & skin, & having to race off to shower & don new clothes! Then there's the tricky application of mowing the lawn 1-2 days before, watering well before & withholding water for 1-2 days after. You hope there's no rain or spring snow in the forecast to was your money down the drain & ruin your hard work! It's always been enough to make me scream.

Hubby's now reconsidering getting a load, saying the cost was okay & that he'd like a green lawn. I wish he'd make up my mind! But if the only way of getting it is "nagging" him & hearing how I'm "nagging" him, & getting all the work to myself, like how it's been all along with fertilizers, etc., I don't know if I want to go the compost route.

***Especially since I start physical therapy tomorrow for slight herniated discs in my neck & a pinched nerve in my upper back leading to neck, upper back, & consequently, arm & hand problems. And I'm continuing physical therapy for a finger that I had surgery on in January, which was casted for 8 weeks then re-operated on in March.***

So, can you answer me this, do I have to put compost down in order to use these grains?

I could use ANY grain/meal for fertilizer?! Cool.

With the settings given for our Red Devil broadcast spreader on the previous few bags of Scott's used, we ended up with some leftover each bag. So a bag that would cover 5,000 square feet is just a bit more than needed.

I don't remember where on these 3 pages I read about the soy meal. We don't have Bermuda.

Are there other organics that can be used without the need for a whole program of other things?


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RE: I have several questions

Ditto what dchall said!

i would add core aeration.

forget all the 'whole program of other things'...

core aerate, apply your grain of choice, mow it high (3")as required,then just let it grow.
THe number one ingredient is time!
Rome wasn't built in a day.

Save your energy for your future home. :)


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RE: I have several questions

So, can you answer me this, do I have to put compost down in order to use these grains?

In my opinion you only need compost to repair the soil if you have had a chemical spill or used a fungicide within the past few months. Other than that the microbes are mostly already in your soil and waiting to eat. Once you feed them they will multiply and reach a new equilibrium with each other in their food chain (or food web).

I could use ANY grain/meal for fertilizer?! Cool.

Pretty much anything with protein in it is food for the microbes (i.e. fertilizer). Milk, blood, hair, feathers, seaweed, fish hydrolysate, fish emulsion, could be added to the list but these are a little trickier to use. Blood is considered HOT and should be used with care. If you check the ingredients on dry dog food, you'll find all the good organic fertilizer ingredients in there. Thus, if you want to give it a shot without your hubby knowing, have him get a bag of cheap dog or cat food. Cat food actually is higher in protein and more expensive. A safe application rate for any of the grains is 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. You can double it if you can afford it.

With the settings given for our Red Devil broadcast spreader on the previous few bags of Scott's used, we ended up with some leftover each bag. So a bag that would cover 5,000 square feet is just a bit more than needed.

Most spreaders won't work well with organic materials because the organics absorb moisture. Of course you live in UT where there is no moisture, so maybe you could get some flow through the holes. In any case you are more interested in getting the pounds on the grass than in the setting. When I apply corn gluten meal I set the spreader wide open and make two passes to get enough on.

Are there other organics that can be used without the need for a whole program of other things?

You can make a program out of it but I just apply corn meal (or this year, alfalfa) on the federal holidays. I start on President's Day because it happens to fall three weeks prior to our 'last frost' date. Then Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. For plants and shrubs I try to give them a heaping handful under their canopy every month.

If you have read the Organic Lawn Care FAQ then you are aware that you can't expect overnight greening with organic fertilizers. It takes every day of 21 days to see results. You are also aware that organics don't have to stink (or even smell), are inexpensive when you shop at the feed store, and won't hurt your lawn if you don't over apply. This last point refers to the over application of compost at rates higher than 1 cubic yard per 1,000 square feet. One of my neighbors smothered his lawn with compost this year. He's lost well over 100 square feet in a 500 square foot yard.


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RE: I have several questions

I wonder what the stuff is our friends in Western WA used to hire someone to spray on their lawn every spring. It was from a waste treatment facility. They said it stunk to high heaven & had neighbors galore complain, but they ended up with the best lawn ever, all the time.


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RE: I have several questions

  • Posted by okcdan 7 Oklahoma City (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 19, 07 at 10:13

Hi libbyliz

I've read thru all your different threads.

I'm one of those guys that uses soybean meal on my bermuda grass.

I want to assure you that the use of soybean meal isn't just for use on any particular type of grass.

I use both soybean meal & alfalfa pellets. I use them because they're easy to use. I can use an ordinary broadcast style spreader for alfalfa pellets. For soybean meal, any ordinary broadcast or drop style spreader work great.

I like to use these two types of grain primarily because I've also tried cottonseed meal & corn meal, but I find those are more of a hassle to spread. (Plus, because I have bermuda, the high protein content of soybean meal provides 6 times more protein for the soil microbes than the same 50lb bag of corn meal.)

These grains only cost around $8 to $12 for a 50lb bag depending on what area you live in the country.

I saw in one of your other threads where bpgreen told you about a feed store very nearby to you.

Just stop by there & simply ask them for a price for 50lb bags of corn meal, alfalfa pellets & soybean meal. they'll tell you what they charge.

Unlike when you're using that chemical stuff, when you buy that 50lb bag of soybean meal (or alfalfa or corn meal or corn gluten meal) & dump it in your spreader, you can simply walk around your yard & apply it til it's gone. There's no need to attempt to store just a little bit left in the bag for next time.

You said:
"I want the least messy, least expensive, least storage room needed, least stinky, least preparation needed, least bothersome application approach."

Using these feed grains, there's really no mess, it's not very expensive, there's no storage required (You can buy just one 50lb bag at a time and use it the same day you buy it,) when you apply at the rates we're talking about there'll no no smell issues (I use soybean meal @ 15lbs/1000sqft and have no smell issues,) and since you already own your Red Devil broadcast spreader there's no preparation needed & this shouldn't be bothersome whatsoever.

When I use soymeal, I just throw it in the spreader, then I add coffee grounds (I save em now from the 1 pot of coffee we have each day) then I mix it up, spread it, then water it in. Very simple :)



I fertilize about 7 or 8 times per year, but for cool season grasses you only need around 3 or 4 times per year.

Good day, Dan


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RE: I have several questions

To add to what dchall says. I think it depends on where you live as to how much each grain will cost you. Here in central Virginia, corn meal (11.00/50lbs) is actually more expensive than soybean meal (10.00/50lbs). You can get cracked corn for about (6.50/50lbs. I am not 100% sure about the expense of alfalfa pellets, but I remember asking about them in February, and they were considerably more expensive than the soybean meal. Here, Corn Gluten Meal, is our champion. Everywhere I find it, its about $1/lb, and its always a commercial brand. You will have to call around to find your best options.


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RE: I have several questions

When I was talking about storing (a 50-lb bag), I thought only a certain amount could be used at one time, like with a 20-lb bag of Scott's -- if you put more than the recommended amount on it'll burn the lawn, put less than the recommended amount on & it won't work well or at all.

Now that I know I can use up 1 big bag at once & not have to worry about where to put the rest, I'm feeling better about this.

I "joke" with Fred Sanford hubby that his "junk" will soon push the car out of the garage if he doesn't keep it in check. I won't have that because we became experienced to how bad desert sun can be on a paint job -- our previous Super Red Toyota Corolla from Western WA turned pink in Eastern WA!


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RE: I have several questions

okcdan - Using that drop spreader do you just leave it open as wide as possible? Thanks in advance.


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RE: I have several questions

sorry to butt in.

okcdan - I would like to know why you also mixed coffee grounds with your soybean meal? What benefit does the lawn get from it? How much coffee ground are you mixing with a 50 lbs sbm? And where do we buy coffee ground?

By the way, your lawn is awesome!!! It's like a golf course. :)


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RE: I have several questions

okcdan,
disregard my question, finally, I've found the link that you guys always suggest for newbies, to read the Organic Lawn Care FAQ. :)

Organic Lawn Care FAQ


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RE: I have several questions

  • Posted by okcdan 7 Oklahoma City (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 22, 07 at 16:00

Hey tiddyt

Using that drop spreader do you just leave it open as wide as possible?

Yep, same for my rotary spreader when I apply alfalfa pellets. Just open it up...I think the highest number on my drop is 19 & that's about how far I have it open when I do the spreading.

Hey v1rtu0s1ty

How much coffee ground are you mixing with a 50 lbs sbm? And where do we buy coffee ground?

I don't buy coffee grounds specifically for putting on the lawn, I just save the ones we use in the house instead of throwing them away. I use a couple large old baking sheets lined with tin foil on the work bench in the garage for drying the used coffee grounds. After we have the morning coffee, just dump the grounds there, spread em & when they're pretty well dried, I put em back into a used coffee can (without a lid so they're open to the air.) Then while I'm applying the feed grains, I just add the grounds, whatever amount that I happened to have save up since the last time.

Good day, Dan


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RE: I have several questions

okcdan
Nice grass picture!
I used alfala pellets on the yard this year. I found that even opened all the way up my rotary spreader was too erratic and slow to dispense. I ended up dumping two 50 lb bags into my wheel barrow and spreading by hand. One double handfull slung in a wide arc, step a few feet and repeat. Worked great (and fast). That's one thing I love about organic ferts, an even application is nice, but not critical. Another thing I love is not having to water in, or apply at the exact right time.
The price here in North Central Florida for 50 lb alfalfa just went up from $10 to $11. $33 to fertilize about 9000 sq ft.


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RE: I have several questions

thats what I do. i just throw the stuff around. Its really quite fun!


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RE: I have several questions

I am looking into chem free lawn&gardening after finding some very good results from this and other web information sites.I had a fungus problem early in the year and used corn meal to treat it not only has got rid of fungus, my St. Aug. grass is greener then I have ever seen it. I have bought everthing I need to start making compost tea to apply on the lawn.Will I need to add more protein based fertilizers thru the summer to keep it this green here in north Fla. Maybe vance8b has some experience with this living in the same area as myself.Any advice is welcomed.


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RE: I have several questions

  • Posted by okcdan 7 Oklahoma City (My Page) on
    Sun, May 13, 07 at 12:03

rickbubba, welcome to the forum.

For your SA grass, using protein based grains 4 times per year should be quite adequate. Early spring, late spring, early fall & late fall would be great. You'll be quite pleased with the deep dark green healthy lawn you have.

Good day, Dan


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