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Help Going organic in Chicago suburbs

Posted by Omar80 none (My Page) on
Sun, Sep 29, 13 at 0:59

Hello everyone after being a homeowner for four years I can not have the green or healthy grass that I want . My grass will only look good for a couple of months thanks to fertilizers and water but than will turn yellow . After searching here I decided to go organic and give it a try . Can someone tell me how to start . first where can I get a good soil test second what to use corn meal or what feed also any feed stores near the northwest suburbs by elgin il thanks in advance.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Help Going organic in Chicago suburbs

Your university of Illinois offers soil testing as well as advice about what you might need to do to create a good, healthy soil. The feed stores around here have all converted to cooperatives and do not sell to the general public any more. However, there are other farm supply stores to choose from
Aside from commercial meals what other types of organic matter are available to you? Grass clippings? Deciduous tree leaves? Yard and garden waste?
What does you soil need other than something, maybe, to adjust the pH? Would these simple soil tests, along with a test for pH, Phosphorus, Potash, Calcium, and Magnesium be of some use?
1) Soil test for organic matter. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. For example, a good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.

2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drains’ too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer your soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.

Here is a link that might be useful: UI CES

RE: Help Going organic in Chicago suburbs

Thanks I will look into the UOi for the soil test I did find cracked corn and alfalfa pellets in a near by tractor store when should I apply it

RE: Help Going organic in Chicago suburbs

Grains, such as cracked corn, and the Alfalfa pellets can be applied anytime you have time to do that. Now would be a good time, while the soil is still warm and the Soil Food Web is still active and can convert what you put down into nutrients the grass can use. Toward the end of October may be getting a bit late up in this area of the world.
Dave may come in and suggest applying these 4 times a year, about the major holidays just as the synthetic fertilizer world suggests, but I find that a once a year application is adequate for me. Feeding the soil more often than that, and providing adequate moisture, simply means the grass grows faster and needs to be cut more often.

RE: Help Going organic in Chicago suburbs

If chemical fertilizer cannot keep your lawn green, there might be a chemical imbalance in the soil which restricts the availability of iron to the plants. The soil test should tell you. As an alternative to your local university, Logan Labs in Ohio has been the "go to" lab for soil testing in other lawn forums. There is one lawn forum which specializes in reading Logan Labs reports. One of the members here, morpheusPA, is one of those experts. Whether he would read one here or not, I don't know. The LL test costs $20 and gives more results than other labs' tests which cost much more than that.

Yes, organic materials can be applied any day of the year that is convenient for you. I have what I call the federal holiday schedule. It starts on Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. For those of us in the south, I add Washington's Birthday. I picked those based on watching my lawn green up, remain green, and then go off toward yellow. Also they are very easy to remember. As kimmsr mentioned, his lawn is different. Probably everyone's is different.

Here is a picture of MorpheusPA's lawn the year when he applied 50 pounds of organic fertilizer per 1,000 square feet every weekend...

That picture was taken in July of 2010. Morph will correct me if I got the year wrong on that. His neighbors do not have the same hybrid Kentucky bluegrass that he has, but the real difference is in his highly tuned up soil and, secondarily, the weekly overdose of organics.

With chemical fertilizers you cannot apply in the heat of summer. With organics you can, so you can carry the fertility over through the heat when others cannot. Then all you need is water.

RE: Help Going organic in Chicago suburbs

I think my mistake was that I use to much fertilizer and water too often than stop watering I use to water Monday wed and sat here's a few pict of how my lawn look from the beginning

RE: Help Going organic in Chicago suburbs

This one was back in June

RE: Help Going organic in Chicago suburbs

This one is from last week

can I apply both corn and alfalfa at the same time or do I need to wait also what do I need to do to winterize the lawn sorry for all these questions and thank you for your time .

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